In the post Quatro world, Gaye along with US doppelgänger Joan Jett, provided the bridge between glam and the brave new future promised by Punk. One in which girls were now in bands and that in itself, was no big deal.
Gaye, with her distinctive black hair, black leather jacket, heavily kohled eyes and a black bass became a reluctant Britpunk “It Girl”, but to us and other tweenie-punks, it was the fact that she was in a band and playing a bass guitar at all, that was the highlight.
There weren’t many girls in bands, and although Punk delivered some of the most memorable front women popular music has ever seen like Poly, Debbie, and Siouxsie, actual guitar wielding girls were few and far between, so Gaye quickly became a focus of attention.
“I hated being singled out because I was female, I just wanted to get on with playing. The more positive side, these days, is when I meet musicians who say they were inspired to play because of me”. Despite being one of the first punk poster girls, Gaye didn’t play up to cameras, pout, dance or jump around onstage, she just stood still, simply glancing up every so often from under her fringe. Why should she? She was there to play, I already understood that much. A keen wearer of Punk accessories, she was often seen in dog collars, school ties, punk badges and her leopard skin guitar strap. And as a keen imitator, I noticed all of these things too.
“I loved the sound of basses at live gigs, the sound would go right through you. I have never been a fan of wibbly guitar solos, so I had more of an urge to play bass”.
Gaye Advert was the first punk girl we ever saw on Top Of The Pops when The Adverts arrived in the charts in August 1977 with “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes”. The episode which aired on 25th August 1977, was hosted by Noel Edmunds, and featured fellow punk rockers the Boomtown Rats and Eddie and the Hot Rods along with Legs and Co who were Way Down-ing along to the swan song by the recently deceased Elvis. TV Smith performed a live vocal, an Gaye stared at the fretboard as the TV cameras zoomed around.
A self-confessed teenage Metal fan, Gaye has name-checked Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” as one of her most influential albums, and more recently has become a regular contributor and reviewer with Louderthanwar – specialist subject Black Metal.
After The Adverts disbanded in 1979, Gaye reverted to her pre-punk name, which like the jacket, the bass, the Sabbath, and the eyeliner was also, Black.
Now an artist, writer, she curated the acclaimed Beyond Punk exhibition in London in 2010. The show included her own work alongside pieces by former punks turned artists, including Adam Ant, Poly Styrene and Charlie Harper. She described her own exhibition pieces to arrestedmotion.com thus,
“I am putting in a piece called ‘Christening’ which contains my christening dress and a photo of me wearing it, along with other old photos and my first ‘bone vases’. They are hollowed ancient bones that I find on the shore of the Thames, with old fake flowers in. The piece is enclosed in a glazed box that I had made. I am also including Evil Squirrel as he has quite a fan club! He has ‘corpse painted’ eyes and is surrounded by bones and remains, and lives in a bell jar. I also have a piece called Don’t Play with Mummy’s things’ – a baby drowned in jewelry. I also have some small resin coated collages that I have just completed. They feature the eyes of black metal musicians, who I photographed in Norway, put into skulls”.
Still getting on with the job in hand, still playing by her own rules. Happy Birthday Gaye Advert.
You can browse or buy more of Gaye Black’s art HERE