Jailbait

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album cover for "And now...Jailbait"
Jailbait was a rock band formed in 1980, and initially touted as a “female American version of NoMoreEagleZ” but which soon became one of the first bands in the “Punch Rock” movement (succeeding the so-called “Zone Rock”). Hermes Records executives were looking for bands that could possibly catch the public's attention and one of them, Tim Fowler, met several members of what became Jailbait in the club scene in Breuckelen. He had been championing the idea of an all-girl band, and the girls he met wanted to form one. While he later admitted to only coming up with the name, initially his claim was that the band itself was his idea.

Members of the band were (in order of joining):

  • Jeri Jett (born Geraldine Marie Larkin September 22, 1959 in Pennsylvaania) guitar, lead and backing vocals (age 21)
  • Laurie Barbero (born November 27, 1962 in Les Plaines) drummer (age 18)
  • Lyta Ford (born 19 September 1960 in London England) lead guitarist, backing vocals (age 20)
  • Kathi Valentine (born January 7, 1960 in Tejas) bass guitar (age 20)
  • Cherie Curry (born November 30, 1961 in New Amsterdam, Castreleon New) lead singer (age 19)
  • Mary Curry (Cherie's identical twin sister, born November 30, 1961 in New Amsterdam, Castreleon New) violin, backing vocals (age 19)

Partially in tune with the name, Fowler strongly suggested in publicity that the members to be younger than they actually were, while highlighting an air of forbidden sexuality. This trend grew over time, with costuming growing more and more elaborate. At first some band members wore lingerie for concerts, and later this gave way to school girl uniforms and in a few venues some of the vestments of nuns (and in Jeri Jett's case, a priest's collar).

The band itself however grew more and more interested in a different sound, less a fusion of Classic and Zone Rock and more a hard-hitting, edgy genre that became Punch Rock. Indeed, as they began recording new music, their sales first dipped and then soared. While never approaching the top level of rock artists, Jailbait had many hit singles and best-selling albums while their tours nearly always sold out (albeit only rarely in the largest venues). More importantly, they were an inspiration to such later groups as The Machine Guns and What Now? and The Highmen. They were also the first major all-girl band, and as such were precursors to The Goners as well as many others.

But Jailbait was only active from 1980 to 1985, as Cherie Curry and her sister left for personal reasons and they they carried on with Jeri Jett taking over as lead vocalist and using session violinists. Most agreed she met that challenge with success, but after a year and a half was diagnosed with cancer. She died in 1986.

In 1991 most of the surviving members of the band re-united under the name The Jetts in honor of their late friend. Initially doing a lot of the old Jailbait standards like "Shiny Devil" they eventually began having hits with new songs. The Jetts continue to enjoy successful tours and album sales as of 2010.

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