Ari Up: Remembering a punk legend

Ari-UpImage Credit: David Corio/Retna LtdPunk lost one of its most important figures when Ari Up passed away yesterday at the far too young age of 48. Scratch that — the loss is all of music’s, regardless of genre. As lead singer of the Slits from the age of 14, Up helped push punk past its primal beginnings toward avant-garde reggae grooves and beyond. The fearless music on Slits albums like 1979’s Cut has continued inspiring artists for decades now.

Ari Up was influential in other ways, too. The punk scene in 1970s London was still largely dominated by men when the Slits began making noise. They changed that dynamic forever, proving that a young, all-female band could have even more attitude and ambition than their macho peers. Up remains a feminist heroine to many today.

For an idea of how highly Ari Up is still regarded by her fellow artists, check out what ex-Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein had to say in a blog post this morning. “The Slits were a life-changing band that made life-changing music,” Brownstein wrote. “What does life-changing mean? It means someone puts a song on a mix tape or throws a record on and you stop dead in your tracks because now, whatever path you were on no longer exists… Not once did a Slits song cease to amaze me, not after repeat listens, literally hundreds of listens.”

We here at the Music Mix are most definitely among the Slits’ many fans. Last summer, EW’s Leah Greenblatt paid tribute to their enduring significance in this space. Check out the Slits’ “Love Und Romance” and their awesome cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” after the jump, and please share your favorite Slits memories in the comments.

(Follow The Music Mix on Twitter:@EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (8 total) Add your comment
  • Laurel

    Rest In Punk Ari Up!!! You are a continuous inspiration to me, and so loving, supportive and so cool! A roll model for rocker women for ever!!! XOXOXOX

  • martin atkins

    i remember Ari with her two kids at the PiL loft in NYC in the early 80’s…….a true spark for sure. So sorry for Noras loss

  • cfkane

    How sad. And even sadder that mine is only the third comment. Rest in peace, Ari. Your art will live on for those who truly love music long after the trendy garbage this magazine wastes all too much space on is a faded and forgotten echo.

  • Sis

    I was gutted to hear about Ari last night; she was one of a kind & a true rebel. What a loss for the world; hoping that her mother & sons are holding up all right. Shedding tears for a lovely soul who is with us no more.

  • tim

    RIP Ari. Thanks for all the revolutionary music!!!

  • Diva Peach

    You all know her as Ari Up..but in Jamaica & the dancehall world we know her as our beloved Medusa!! I can’t believe this I just saw Ari Up aka Medusa early this year all happy. OMG….the dancehall lost a shining star for real yo! DAMN..bless up Medusa as we in dancehall call you…make sure you teach the angels how to rub a dub boo!!!!

  • Clockwork Allen

    My beloved Ari – a great Parent, Musician, Activist and most of all you were a good friend to me. I love you and I will miss ya madly you crazy Punk Rock ball of Blood, Guts and Love. You were a unique individual. You stood by me and encouraged me when my life had hit rock bottom. I am grateful to have known you and I will forever be honored to have been your Drummie in The True Warriors from time to time. May Hashem elevate your precious soul. Now you get to play your wonderful music to the Lord of Hosts. Give my regards to the King sweetheart. One Love!

  • Senuke X discount

    Heya i am for the primary time here. I found this board and I to find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to present something back and help others like you helped me.

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