Five years ago, on October 20, 2010, Ariane Daniela Forster -- better known as "Ari Up" -- died of cancer in Los Angeles. She was only 48 years old.
Ari was the very essence of punk. After divorcing her German father, Ari's mother, Nora Forster, moved with Ariane to London and married John Lydon -- who was then in his "Johnny Rotten" incarnation -- making him Ari's step-father. Their household became a focus of intense musical and artistic activities of all sorts during the intensively creative period that followed The Ramones' first tour of the UK in 1976. That tour produced what is now referred to as "first generation punk", as well as "second generation punk", a term which covers bands such as The Buzzcocks, The Clash, The Ruts and The Slits, who were inspired by bands such as The Damned (the first band to record a "punk" single, "New Rose") and The Sex Pistols, which formed in reaction to The Ramones' 1976 tour, to DIY ("Spiral Scratch", the first Buzzcocks EP, was self-produced and self-distributed, which sparked an explosion in DIY labels and projects).
Ari's irresistible energy -- and that of the early punk scene -- is featured in a 5-minute segment from another documentary, "Raw Energy", shot in 1978 and released in 1979 -- which alternates between live performances and interviews.
The Slits also made an unforgettable appearance in the 1978 "The Punk Rock Movie", trashing a bloke's car. The live portion of the footage of The Slits in performance included in the movie was shot in 1977 by Don Letts, most famous as a movie-maker and photographer who documented the birth and death of the original punk movement, who was also a member of Mick Jones' post-Clash project Big Audio Dynamite.One of my favorite post-Slits side-projects of Ari's were her recordings and appearances with Adrian Sherwood's New Age Steppers -- who have been described as a "post-punk reggae supergroup" -- and which was/is comprised of many of the British-born "usual suspects" from the On-U stable of artists and produced by Adrian Sherwood. Here she is performing a reggae standard "My Guiding Star" with The New Age steppers.
Here is a more mellow dubwise version of "Me Done" with the lyrics delivered at a slower pace, recorded live by Ari Up & her band True Warriors live on the radio station that has done more to broaden my musical horizons than anything else in my life, WFMU, the world's oldest free-form radio station.
The Slits reformed in 2006, although Ari was only one of 2 original members to participate in the reassembly. For their initial EP, they recruited Paul Cook, who drummed for The Sex Pistols, and Marco Pirroni, who is best known for being Adam & The Ants lead guitarist and co-writer of most of Adam Ant's 1980s-era hits. As Narnack Records documented at her last label's website, the last project she worked on -- a video for The Slits' song "Lazy Slam" -- was released posthumously at Ari's request.