Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Liz Borden continues her series on Genya Ravan and Goldie & The Gingerbreads
News Flash! Ace Records will be releasing the first Goldie and The Gingerbreads CD of pre released singles!
Who Are Goldie and The Gingerbreads? Let’s get educated. Genya Zelkowitz was the lead singer in Richard Perry’s band,The Escorts. Genya met Ginger Panbianco, who was playing drums for one of Perry’s friends. Seeing a woman playing drums gave Genya the idea for an all-female band; they changed their names to Goldie Zelkowitz and Ginger Bianco, as a play on their two first names to fit their new band name Goldie and the Gingerbreads. With the addition of pianist Carol O’Grady, the trio toured West Germany and Switzerland with Chubby Checker in 1962. Afterwards, they hired guitarist/vocalist Carol MacDonald, and replaced O’Grady with Margo Lewis. The lineup was complete. Decca Records signed the group in 1963, making them the first female band to land a record deal from a major label. And yes, they had to pose cheesecake-style in glittery garb for publicity purposes.
Goldie And The Gingerbreads, an all-female American rock band from 1962 to 1967 consisting of 4 female musicians. Goldie and her bandmates were the first all-female rock band signed to a major record label. Breaking ground by attracting big record labels and live audiences. In the band, Goldie (Genya Zelkowitz, later Genya Ravan), Ginger Bianco, Margo Lewis, and Carol MacDonald were signed to Decca in 1963 and to Atlantic in 1964. The Band was as hired to At a party in 1964 in for Andy Warhol. Also in attendance, Ahmet Etegun of Atlantic Records. After seeing them play, he signed them to Atlantic right away. Ertegün convinced the band to leave Decca and signed them to Atlantic’s subsidiary label, Atco.
The band released a handful of singles; Including, Can You Feel My Heartbeat. Also at That party, The Rolling Stones.
The Goldie and the Gingerbreads 1964 recording of “Cant You Hear My Heartbeat” made it to #25 in the UK. In the USA ,Hermans Hermits released “Cant You Hear My Heartbeat” two weeks earlier; the heavy promotion of that song cut them out of the U. S. charts. That was done on purpose after the management company that managed both bands split. One manager took G&G and the other Hermans Hermits.To spite G&G’s manager, Herman’s Management, had H&H record it and release it before Goldie & The Gingerbreads. Because of that, the bands single didn’t chart in the USA, It made some noise but not the bang it should have thanks to Hermans Hermits early release, After meeting Eric Burdon and The Animals, Goldie and the Gingerbreads were signed for a European tour, where they performed with the biggest bands of the British Invasion: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Hollies, The Kinks and many more! Following in the footsteps of their male British counterparts, they played numerous gigs in West Germany, even appearing at The Beatles‘ early haunt, The Star Club in Hamburg. It turns out that Ringo himself was a fan. In 1965 he managed to get them a spot on the popular BBC variety show. The show was hosted by Dudley Moore and Peter Cook.
All of the band members of Goldie And The Gingerbreads, stayed active in the music business. Bianco and MacDonald formed the jazz-fusion band Isis. Lewis toured as a keyboardist with Bo Diddley and currently runs her own talent consulting company.
It is Goldie Zelkowitz that managed to keep her career going in the rock world. After Goldie and the Gingerbreads broke up, Goldie Zelkowitz changed her name to Genya Ravan. She then played in Ten Wheel Drive in 1969, where Ravan was accompanied by 10 male musicians.
In the Punk/New Wave era, Genya released Urban Desire in 1978. A don’t fuck with me, no-nonsense album from a kick ass woman Who is still kicking ass with her recent release of her album, Icon.
Genya appeared on TV talk shows, produced a comeback album for Ronnie Spector, served as head of production at CBGB Records, and currently hosts two Sirius/XM radio shows: Goldie’s Garage and Chicks and Broads. Her 2004 memoir Lollipop Lounge: Memoirs of a Rock and Roll Refugee takes the reader on a tour of her life. From her prison camp days in Poland to her struggles with alcohol and cancer.
If Goldie and the Gingerbreads were the first all-woman rock band to be signed to a major label, and Fanny was #3, who was the second? That would be The Pleasure Seekers, which was Suzi Quatro’s first band. In her memoir Unzipped Suzi said that she and her sisters searched through the dictionary for a name for their band. They found the word “hedonist” and took their name for one of the definitions for that word, “pleasure seeker”.
So, why aren’t Goldie and the Gingerbreads Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees? Is it the same reason Suzi Quatro and The Runaways are not?. Without The Runaways there would be no Joan Jett. Joan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame before any of the ground breaking musicians I just listed. Even before The Runaways. But Goldie And The Gingerbreads, as the first all-female guitar band, and the first to be signed by a major label they should qualify. They were all about the rock n roll. The were ground breakers and made a name for themselves throughout the world. They were role models, broke ground and opened the door for other female musicians. Like Suzi Quatro and The Runaways, they left a mark. They sold records. The have fans all over the world of all genders that would love to see this happen. Is it politics? Is it nobody is kissing the RRHOFs ass? In 2011 the Hall of Fame acknowledged Goldie And The Gingerbreads contributions to music by including the group in its traveling “Women in Music” exhibit.
Perhaps a more meaningful honor was one bestowed upon them by the Women in Music organization, which presented the first ladies of rock with a Touchstone Award. It’s given annually to women who possess “the courage and inspiration to make a difference in the music." I was there at that ceremony. It was emotional, exciting, redeeming and well deserved.
It was only fitting that one of the band’s earliest supporters, the legendary Ahmet Ertegün, presented them with their statuettes.
Goldie and the Gingerbreads performed one last time November 13,1997 to mark their 30th anniversary and to celebrate the release of the Rolling Stone Book Of Women In Rock.
Carol MacDonald passed away March 12 2007.