Baby Roulette And The Rave Ons, Backstage Pass, Blame It All On The Night, Bomp! Records, Che Zuro, Get Crazy, Hollywood Confidential, Hollywood Heartbeat, Jan King, Kim Fowley, Laurie Bell, Laurie McAllister, Lost in the Grooves, MCA Records, Mystery Records, Puss n Boots, Spectropop, Stingray and The Wads, Sunbie Harrel, Tantrum, the Bangles, the Go-Gos, The Orchids, The Runaways, Tony Sclafani, Vampires From Outer Space, Vicki Blue, Wendy Wu, When Does Love Turn Out Right?
As I was actually getting into my research on The Runaways I – more or less accidentally – got hold of yet another, to me previously unknown female Rockband: The Orchids.
To be precise, since there is or has been more than one Band using this name in the course of history, I stumbled upon the late 70s/early 80s group who were supposed to fill the shoes (or rather boots) The Runaways once put on very successfully. The band featured former Runaways member Laurie McAllister, but this for sure was no guarantee for The Orchids’ hit potential.
“Lightning doesn’t usually strike twice. So it’s no surprise that when rock impresario Kim Fowley tried to replicate the success of his all-girl band The Runaways with another all-girl ensemble, the results fizzled instead of sizzled.That’s a shame because the group in question, The Orchids, released a pretty good album in 1980. The self-titled release eschews The Runaways overdrive sound in favor of girl-group melodicism and snappy new wave tempos. Producer Fowley (who also takes credit as “director”) wrote or co-wrote almost all the songs on this LP, and while there are no flashes of brilliance, it’s consistently listenable and enjoyable.
Lead vocalist Jan King (not the author of the same name!) shows a lot of range, coasting through the ballads, rockers and mid-tempo numbers with ease. A few years after The Orchids came and went, several all-women bands like The Go-Go’s and The Bangles reaped lots of commercial success with similar sounds.
The Orchids LP doesn’t touch the best work of either of those bands, but is definitely worth hearing, especially if you’re a fan of obscure new wave acts.”
An all girl pop/rock band verging slightly on New Wave, The Orchids were created and managed by Kim Fowley and featured bassist Laurie McAllister who had replaced Vicki Blue in The Runaways for a short period before they fragmented.
The Orchids were formed rather ironically from two Bomp Records Kim was producing at the time, Vampires From Outer Space and Hollywood Confidential. Blonde bombshell drummer Laurie Bell had recorded the track ‘If You’re Gonna Change Your Heart’ for Vampires. The album also featured Laurie McAllister playing bass and singing lead in the group Baby Roulette And The Rave Ons on a tune entitled ‘Black Orchids’. Laurie McAllister was also featured as lead vocalist on a tune called ‘On Suburban Lawns’ on Hollywood Confidential, that was billed as The Runaways. Laurie Bell had actually worked with Fowley previously on his Sunset Blvd album, appearing on the improvised title track. Joining forces with Laurie Bell and Laurie McAllister were vocalist / guitarist Jan King (from Stingray and The Wads) and guitarists Sunbie Harrel and Che Zuro, who Fowley recruited from Backstage Pass.
The Orchids as they became known, released an EP on Kim Fowley’s Mystery Records and signed to MCA Records for self-titled album in 1980. One single was released entitled ‘When Does Love Turn Out Right?’. A promotional video of ‘Blame It All On The Night’ aired one time on the pre-MTV video program called ‘Hollywood Heartbeat’ in the summer of 1980. The final Orchids gig was in December of 1980 in the San Fernando Valley.
Shortly after The Orchids break-up Laurie Bell formed the short-lived all girl metal band Tantrum. Jan and Che recorded a demo under the name Valentine and soon after Che Zuro flew off to the UK to replace singer Wendy Wu in The Photos. When the label passed on the demos that were recorded, Che returned to Los Angeles. Laurie Bell and Che Zuro both appeared in the 1984 film ‘Get Crazy’ and shortly thereafter formed ‘Puss n Boots’ with singer Jan King. Both Jan and Che have continued music careers, Che in the Los Angeles area and Jan in Chicago.
Information taken from The Orchids’ MySpace Page
There was also a British Girl Group called The Orchids, that was active in the 60s. Find out more about them on Spectropop!
This concludes my little collection on The Orchids and to give a some further impression, here are more pictures I found of them – enjoy!