Punk girls come from all walks. Some from the cities, some from small towns and some who might have grown up on a military base in Germany with four older brothers. At the age of 17, Pearl Harbor decamped to back to her families native shores and landed in San Francisco with hopes of becoming a singer. Initially joining a very un-punk rock sounding dance troupe called the Wood Nymphs, by 1976 Pearl became a dancer for experimental proto-punk shock rocking show offs, The Tubes. After a period in a Tubes related off-shoot project Leila And The Snakes, which she described as “Four sets a night: punk, cocktail hour, comedy, skits, tap dancing, twirling hula hoops while singing. It was kind of like being in a play. Interesting and fun for a while, but you got tired of it…. I wanted to branch out into rock and roll.”
Leila And The Snakes released their own 1978 single called “Rock & Roll Weirdos”, but it was her new band, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions that was to cement her into Punk family history.
Signing to Warners in 1979, Pearl and her Explosions toured with Brit-punks Elvis Costello and The Clash and also warmed up a few crowds for the Talking Heads. Liking the cut of her new friends in the UK’s jib, Pearl’s head was turned, and in 1980 she left the Explosions and relocated to London. Still signed to Warners she set about recording her first solo album, backed by a band of her new Punk Rock superstar friends. With at least 3 members of The Clash, several Blockheads and guitarists Wilko Johnson and Steve New (rICH kIDS) all featuring on the record. Pearl even added an anglicised “u” to her surname, apparently because that’s how everyone in the UK spelt it anyway, and so in 1980 Pearl Harbour released one of post punk’s great lost albums “Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost Too”.
Pearl decided to not name the musicians on the record, because “it was more honest and “punk-rock” not to”, causing the frenzied marketing department sour puss’s at Warners to press only 2000 copies of the album and “release” her from the label. No matter, Pearl married bass playing sweetheart Paul Simonon in 1982, and then spent her time touring with the Clash, still finding time to record two more solo albums over the next three years.
In the clip above filmed in Japan in 1982, it’s interesting to see just how at ease Pearl is with this monster band behind her, and what’s also striking is that somewhere underneath that hair and the arm tattoo, and years before either of these even became notable, but there’s more than a hint of Amy about her.
After the couple split in 1989, Pearl moved back to the USA, where she still occasionally writes and performs music, including a 2013 show with Hugh Cornwell at The Echo in Los Angeles.
Punk girls really do come, and go, from all walks, and Pearl’s legacy is that of the get up and go girl, with enough charm to tame the Clash and enough front and style to actually get up there and front them as well.
You can visit Pearl’s own website HERE