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Genya Ravan: Girl power

A rock ’n’ roll pioneer, Genya Ravan fronted the first successful all-girl band Goldie and the Gingerbreads and produced Ronnie Spector and the Dead Boys.

Genya Ravan is a rock ’n’ roll pioneer. She has single-handedly busted down the male-dominated walls of every facet of the record industry.

Being part of the first successful all-girl band, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, she paved the way for bands like Fanny, The Go-Go’s and The Bangles. She went on to front the powerful horn band Ten Wheel Drive, and she has many production credits, including Ronnie Spector and The Dead Boys, and she started her own record label.

The roads Genya took were twisted, tortured and rocky. While she sometimes was down, she was never out. Her fiery determination wouldn’t let that happen.

She always came back bigger and better than before. After all Ravan has accomplished, is there anything else she could possibly do? The answer is, yes.

Today, Genya hosts, not one, but two shows in Little Steven’s “Underground Garage.” “Chicks and Broads” runs the first Friday of every month and focuses on the music of women who have played a big part in the history of rock ’n’ roll, a fitting topic for Genya. On the third Friday of every month, “Goldie’s Garage” has 12 bands competing to deliver the world the next great Garage Band.

Recently discussing Genya’s impact on the music world, Little Steven Van Zandt, creator and executive producer of the “Underground Garage”, E Street Band guitarist extraordinaire and “Sopranos” star, said, “Genya is not just a good friend and amazingly entertaining radio personality but, as a member of the first all-girl rock band, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, continues to be an inspiration to the unprecedented number of young girls starting out.”

The constants in Genya’s storied career are that she doesn’t sit still for long, she is tough as nails, resilient, has great vision, refuses to take “no” for an answer, and on top of all of this, she has an extraordinarily soulful voice. As Little Steven says, “Genya IS the GOODS!”

The Escorts and Goldie and the Gingerbreads

Genya’s singing career started in 1962 on a dare in a Brooklyn club called the Lollipop Lounge. The band that was playing that night, The Escorts, was lead by Richard Perry, who became a legendary producer for a number of recording artists, including Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, Art Garfunkel, Harry Nilsson, Fats Domino and Diana Ross.

Within a week of belting out Connie Francis’ “Stupid Cupid” and The Hearts’ “Lonely Nights,” Genya was asked to join the Escorts. At the time, the band was on the verge of recording its first single for Coral

Records, “Somewhere,” from “West Side Story.”

While Genya was not crazy about the song selection, the record did shoot to #1 in Michigan and Ohio, and it gave her the opportunity to work with one of the all-time great drummers, Bernard Purdie. The next two singles, “One Hand, One Heart” and “Something Has Changed Him,” did not fare as well as “Somewhere,” but The Escorts continued to work the clubs, and that is where Genya first met Ginger Panabianco, who was drumming for another band. Though that first meeting was uneventful, it ended up being a turning point in both of their lives.

In no time, Genya, who was nicknamed “Goldie” by her mother, became fast friends with Ginger. They spent most of their time thinking about how cool it would be to have an all-girl band. Their dream turned into a reality when they combined their names to form the band Goldie and the