The Slits

The Slits were an English avant-reggae/funk combo from London that released the album Cut on Island/Antilles in 1979, followed by Return of the Giant Slits on CBS in 1981.

Members: Ari Up [Arianna Forster, aka Ari-Upp] (vocals), Suzi Gutsy (bass, 1976-77), Kate Korus (guitar, 1976-77), Palmolive (drums, vocals, 1976-79), Viv Albertine (guitar, vocals, 1977-81), Tessa Pollitt (bass, vocals, 1977-present), Budgie (drums, 1978-79), Bruce Smith (drums, 1979-81)

The Slits were formed in October 1976 by some of the earliest female clubgoers on the London punk scene. During a Patti Smith concert that month at the Hammersmith Odeon, aspiring drummer Paloma Romero (b. 1954) spotted 14-year-old fan Ariane Forster (b. 1962) making waves in the crowd. Amused by the girl’s energy, Romera proposed they form a band.

Forster, who went by the name Ari Up, was the daughter of affluent German newspaper heir Nora Forster — who would later marry Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon — and the goddaughter of Yes frontman Jon Anderson.

Romero, a Spanish expat, started frequenting the clubs two years earlier when her then-boyfriend, Joe Strummer, fronted a band called the 101ers. It was through this association that she witnessed the formative stages of The Clash in May/June 1976. Their bassist, Paul Simonon, mispronounced her name as “Palmolive,” hence her nickname.

Another party to these early Clash rehearsals was budding Australian-born guitarist Viv Albertine (b. 1954), an attendee of the 100 Club Punk Special in September 1976. A fellow attendee, Pistols-fan and momentary Banshee John Ritchie (aka Sid Vicious), invited Viv and Palmolive to join him in a band with guitarist Keith Levine, who’d briefly played in the embryonic Clash. Sid’s band, the Flowers of Romance, rehearsed for a few weeks but quickly collapsed after the two women spurned his advances.

Immediately after the Flowers debacle, Palmolive and Ari formed The Slits with bassist Suzi Gutsy and American-born guitarist Kate Korus.


  • Cut (1979)
  • Return of the Giant Slits (1981)
  • In the Beginning: A Live Anthology 1977-81 (1997)


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