You can really go to town with prefixes for Nikki and the Corvettes; a late-seventies, all female, garage, surfer, bubblegum, punk band. Formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1977 by self confessed New York Dolls and Bowie fan Nikki Corvette, the band released their one and only album on the legendary Bomp! Label (Nikki and the Corvettes) in 1980. Often described as a cross between the Runaways and The Ramones, the Corvettes took the three-chord punk song and made it pop. Where the Runaways were provocative, and the Go-Gos were busy brandishing their shined up pop tunes on a sleeve of pure ambition, Nikki and the Corvettes plied what seems like a more sincere brand of poppy brat rock, and although not as commercially successful as some of their contemporaries, their legacy is still burning bright.
“The MC5 were one of the first bands I ever saw and have always been a huge influence on me….I think I was 16 and wanted to go see The MC5 and my mom told me no, so I ran away from home so I could see them, totally worth it!!!”
Nikki and the Corvettes are always a good reminder that Punk doesn’t have to be dark or difficult, and the Corvettes instead played their speedy three chord anthems with a sense of mischief mixed up with classic girl group harmonies.
Described by the journalist Adrian Mack as “snotty bubblegum punk”, the Corvettes started out playing in underground clubs in their native Detroit, a city bursting with its own musical references; from Motown to The Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper and Suzi Quatro, and more recently through to Eminem and The White Stripes. In 1979 Nikki and the band headed to Los Angeles and, as all great punk pop bands of the time, signed with Greg Shaw of Bomp! Records. Constant touring and juicy openers for bands like The Ramones and the very underated B-Girls, paved the way for Nikki’s own cult like status as something of a figurehead for girl powered garage pop.
In 1997, Nikki even found time to settle down at the business end of a typewriter to produce the book “Rock and Roll Heaven”, where she looked at the lives and deaths of some of her rock and rolling heroes.
Despite, or possibly because of the time she spent out of the spotlight, Nikki has become something of a cult figure to officianados of girl powered pop, and was even name checked by The Donnas in their 1998 bad girl song “Gimme My Radio”
“They took away my TV set, And my cheeba cigarette.
I wanna be like Nikki Corvette, so…Gimme my Radio…”
In 2002, Nikki dusted herself off and put together a new band, Nikki Corvette & the Stingrays, touring not only in the United States, but more interestingly Japan…home of Shonen Knife…cuddle pop and fantastic band graphics.
As of September 2018, Nikki has been back to Japan to tour, six times since 2004 and in an interview with punkglobe.com she tells writer Shawn Stevenson
“The shows were packed and I feel like a rock star there. There’s just so much love and every time I go I get to go to places that I’ve never been.”
“I always invite girls onstage for “Girls Like Me” and I have as many girls onstage as I can possibly fit for that song. You can just feel the excitement and the love. I understand because I am still a fan”.
The Japanese have taken to her so much that as well as regular tours, she even has a Japanese version of the “Corvettes” called “Nikki Corvette and the Let’s Go’s”.
“If you told me in 1978 that I would be touring the world in 2018 and still putting out records and writing new songs and still having this much fun I would have thought you were crazy. I can’t believe I even got to play in a different state. I still sometimes believe it’s not real. Sometimes I feel like I am being punked”.
You can keep up with Nikki on twitter HERE