Arianna Forster, aka Ari Up, front-woman for pioneering English punk band The Slits, passed away on Wednesday, October 20th, according to the website of John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd., who was also Up’s stepfather. According to Lydon’s site, Up died “after a serious illness.” She was 48 years old.
Ari Up formed The Slits in 1976 with drummer Palmolive when she was just 14 years old. The band quickly became one of the most notorious of the nascent punk rock movement, not only because its members were predominantly young girls, but also due to their outrageous style and on- and off-stage antics. The Slits appeared topless, caked in mud, on the cover of their 1979 debut, Cut – an album that would go on to be massively influential for coming generations of punks and riot grrrls. However, their combination of joyful, hell-raising, ramshackle punk and reggae rhythms would prove difficult to imitate.
The Slits followed Cut with 1981’s more experimental Return of the Giant Slits, and then broke up. Up went on to work with Adrian Sherwood’s New Age Steppers project and record music solo. In 2005, Up reunited with bassist Tessa Pollitt and reformed The Slits, releasing an EP, Revenge of the Killer Slits, in 2006 and an album, Trapped Animal, in 2009.