There are very few women who started as musicians in the late 70’s and ’80s who continued to play and make a living out of punk and alternative music for many years. Some of the early punk girls, like Poly Styrene, had some success and fame before withdrawing to a private existence far away from the music industry. A significant number of these ex-punk girls seem to have gone into alternative therapies, mysticism and visual art.
There are also established (and male) punk bands – some of them quite well known – whose line up has included a female singer or musician for just a short period of time. These women may be listed on the Wikipedia ‘past members’ section but only appear in a couple of recordings or photographs. These interim punk girls are of great interest to us. Information about them may be scant online, but through publicising them, we’re hoping that people will get in touch and tell us (and you) more.
Laurel Ann Bowman, who died age 45 in 2009, is a great example of someone who lived a successful life working as a copywriter, creative director and eventually starting her own global digital media company. But, born in 1964, Bowman also dabbled in punk and alternative music. She was active in local scenes around Massachusetts in the USA.
At the moment, we can’t find out how Laurel Ann Bowman got into punk music, but we know that she played a small part in the history of political punk band The Proletariat – active in Boston during the 1980s and heavily influenced by The Clash, The Gang of Four and Wire.
After Richard Brown, the original Proletariat lead singer and Marxist driving force behind the band, left partway through recording the second album, Bowman stepped in, and sang on a couple of the tracks. The change proved too much for band members and fans alike and they disbanded within a year. The effect of Brown’s staccato vocals with Bowman’s more tuneful singing on the album is well worth a listen.
In later years, whilst working in advertising, Laurel continued to make music with The Lumen Band. Again, there is very little information available online except this picture of her playing guitar and singing.
We would love to find out more about Laurel Ann Bowman to add to this post.
An obituary, written by an ex-work colleague/friend includes the sort of descriptions that make you want to have met this woman and certainly to have engaged her to do your media.
“We landed work, thanks in no small part to the fact that when Laurel entered a room, things lit up. She was a force to be reckoned with. There was no denying her presence.” Sendai 77 blog