Patricia Morrison has lived a proper musician’s life; she’s been a key member in several different and cool bands and her visual style has taken punk to goth to simply beautiful in black. As a teenager she started playing bass, pictured below rehearsing in her first band ‘Femme Fatale’ with Margo Reyes. Patricia’s original inspiration as a Californian teenager were Iggy Pop, The Doors and lots of UK artists such as Bowie, Queen and Roxy Music.
“When punk came along it opened up opportunities with like minded people deciding to give it a go and I was one of those people. I found two other girls (most boys wouldn’t consider playing with girls back then unless they were the singer or on keyboards), and we started playing with cheap drug store bought instruments. It was all so exciting between ‘being in a band’ and going to see concerts of old and new bands.”
In 1976, Patricia teamed up with Alice Armendariz and others to form punk band The Bags. They were one of the earliest L.A. punk bands – their gimmick was to wear paper bags on their heads as in this picture: – and they played extensively, including venues where the new punk sound was not appreciated.
“Any females I have played with have been strong characters and in some ways more single-minded than the men. Also, back then you had to try harder if you were a girl. As I started playing with women first, it never seemed odd or different to me—it was down to the individual’s personality so not much difference looking back on it. Male and female, we all had the same problems, issues, camaraderie and egos.”
Here’s a good interview done recently by Alice Bag, where she talks with Patricia: http://alicebag.com/women-in-la-punk/2015/8/29/patricia-vanian
After leaving The Bags, Patricia played for a while with Legal Weapon before being asked to join The Gun Club in 1982. She moved to London with the band, but was soon involved in many other projects, including Fur Bible. Again, Patricia was in demand as a musician when The Sisters of Mercy founder Andrew Eldritch lost the other members of the band. With her cool image and ability to play, Patricia Morrison was ideal.
Following a period of time recording and touring as a solo artist with her own band, Patricia was asked to stand in as bassist for The Damned following an accident that injured previous bass player Paul Gray. Several tours followed and then Morrison married lead singer Dave Vanian in Las Vegas.
“I was a fan beforehand so it was incredible to me I was actually in The Damned. Before me, Paul Gray was in the band and quit after being hit with a beer glass. Captain asked me if I would play and I said I would give it a go. I stayed in the band until I was eight months pregnant with Emily. By the end I had to hold the bass to the side of me. I did a US tour, one last London gig and put my bass away.”
We salute you, Patricia for having made so much great music, and having such a big impact on female musicianship and style. But we’re sure that there is more to come and we look forward to seeing and hearing more from you!
21 thoughts on “Patricia Morrison – from The Bags to The Damned”
Excellent article. Have always been a fan of Patricia Morrison!
My ex wife and I were married in Vegas a day after Patricia and Dave. Same “mature” Elvis (Norm) who was a great guy and, who (after my tipsy mother-in-law let him know that I “was a musician”) asked me and my then bride if we knew of a band called The Damned!
Well…of course we did! We not only knew them/their entire catalogue of music…but, they were one of my absolute favourite bands EVER! And, my digital camera case even had a “classic” BLACK ALBUM badge on it.
He showed us the photo of him marrying Patricia and Dave THE PREVIOUS DAY and, was so impressed by the many wonderful connecting points that he gave us an extra bottle of their econo Sparkling Wine and, offered to sing 2 *bonus* Elvis tunes for us at no charge – as long as I duetted with him on “Viva Las Vegas” as a finale.
One last crazy coincidence was that his son was in a Religious Studies Program at a Private College in Canada that was located around 40 miles from our home!
That was a long time ago…BUT…I was chatting with Paul Gray about 2yrs ago on Messenger and related the crazy awesome flukey series of events and he actually took notes because he thought it was a riot. He then relayed the tale to Mr Vanian on tour. And, of course – Dave relayed the story to Patricia.
Life sure can be kooky eh!
Dusty Doug (Vancouver Canada)