Sunday, April 24, 2011

The ballad of Michael Steele

One of the first musicians I admired for who they were was Michael Steele, the red-haired bassist from the Bangles. I don't think I saw it like that at the time but looking back she may be very well the first famous woman I had a crush on. I was a big fan of the Bangles, also after they split (I'm not so after 2005 when Michael left/got kicked out of the Bangles) buying all their records, all versions of the singles, etc. As far as Michael was concerned, I wanted her hair, I so wanted her hair. My mother tried to help me with it ('That's henna red' she said so I tried that, it's disgusting and had little result) but I never got it red so I settled for a Vicki Peterson blond string of hair in my dark brown hair (as where lay the key for not getting that red hair from the drug store). At art class in high school we once had to make an advertisement poster using a certain technique, advertising a product carrying your name. I made a concert poster, advertising myself 'and my bass guitar' drawing a gigantic bass guitar. The teacher had no idea how to deal with a concert poster and gave me a 6/10. But still, Michael Steele ruled!

And she still does.

After the Bangles split new music game into my life and with that punk and grunge. I do see, and try to convince people, that the Bangles very well could have fitted into the riot grrrl scene if they had started in the early 90s rather than early 80s. They were very garage before Prince decided to step in and write them a very sweet Manic Monday. The Bangles have been marketed by their record company and the women all regret not having stepped up more for themselves. It didn't all went the way they wanted it too go which in the end was the reason for disbanding the band.

But, like I said, other music game into my life and the Bangles moved a little bit to the background with me occasionally picking up their records again, mostly their older records, rarely 'Different Light', their pop-album featuring 'Manic Monday' and 'Walk like an Egyptian' (their break-through album). I have always loved Michael's songs the best. Her voice is raw and still very warm. She has written the best songs in my opinion as well. Michael Steele always stood out with the Bangles, it wasn't just her hair, but it was also her attitude. The more internet came to live, the more I was able to look up and the more it became clear. Michael somehow was the black sheep of the Bangles. None surprising she was the one with the least media attention after the split, she kept a low profile with underground bands, taking care of dogs she had rescued from the shelter, with her garden and her painting. She's mysterious, hence her quite cult-like following. And none-surprising, she was the last Bangle to re-join the band issuing concerns about the band still being taken seriously. She left 5 years and 1 year later, feeling that the others in the band didn't take it as seriously as she did. The others quite blamed her for not being understanding. I think it went down pretty ugly.

Due to Michael, I can't get into the Runaways. The oh so cool it hurts Runaways. She was a member of that band, has recorded 1 album that's only been released as a demo-re-release in 1993, and she was the bassist and main vocalist for the time that it lasted. She never wanted to be reminded of that time, called some song ideas retarted and couldn't conform to the sexist wishes of their management. The Runaways were a pretty marketed concept, young girls with guitars exploited for being young girls with guitars. Something young women with guitars 15 years later would rebel against. I do believe that the film made a few years back gives you a wrong picture of the band, Michael not being the only ex-member not wanting to be involved, hence you have a fictional band member in that film.

Michael Steele, she's a hero. She's a true musician. She's such a special lady and still looks amazing after all these years. You could say that unknowingly to myself, she's been an inspiration to me all my life. She still is. She still is in my top 5 musicians list (which only include bassists and drummers, I'm a sucker for the rhythm section, it started with her!). The Bangles can do whatever they want right now, I do not care. Michael Steele rocks. She got class and attitude and you better believe it.