In 1962 Genya Ravan - the then lead-singer of Richard Perry's band The Escorts- met Ginger Panabianco in a New York club. Ginger was on stage, performing as the drummer for one of Perry's friends. The discovery of a female drummer inspired in Genya Ravan the idea of an all-female rock band. The name of the would-be band was decided upon rapidly: Goldie was the name by which Ravan's mother chose to call her after their arrival in the United States from post-war Poland, while gingerbread was a play on Ginger's name.
Richard Perry and the other members of The Escorts were college students. When the summer concert season ended, Genya and Ginger began to look for a pianist and soon recruited Carol O’ Grady. Finding a female guitarist turned out to be much harder. Various ad-hoc recruits filled in as and when required: when they accompanied Chubby Checker on his 1962 concert tour of West Germany and Switzerland, they had to perform without any guitar cover at all. The following year, Goldie and the Gingerbreads were temporarily enhanced by a bassist, Carol O’Grady was replaced by Margo Lewis, and guitarist and backing vocalist Carol MacDonald joined as the fourth permanent band member.
Troubles with British working visa requirements led to the band performing dates in West Germany (where many UK and US troops were then stationed as part of the NATO defences) at venues including the Star-Club in Hamburg while they waited for their British work permits to come through.
A subsequent appearance in Paris at the Olympia earned Goldie & The Gingerbreads a favourable introduction to the French music scene, despite technical difficulties that arose during the performance.
Throughout the early 1960s, when Goldie and the Gingerbreads were touring extensively throughout North America, club and venue promoters were not so much interested in their music as in the excitement that an all-female musical group caused. Another issue of contention and frustration was through the practice then widespread throughout the United States of separate radio stations for white music - who would not accept the Gingerbreads’ black music - whilst their counterpart black broadcast media were unable to feature white artists. Goldie and the Gingerbreads did have one single, "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat", that reached #25 on the British charts in 1965. Although the single was also released in the United States, a recording of the same song by the heavily promoted Herman's Hermits was released with great fanfare just two weeks prior to the Gingerbreads' release, thus fatally undermining the Gingerbreads' chances for their first hit single in the U.S.
Over the course of 1967 and 1968, Goldie and the Gingerbreads gradually broke up. They returned to the United States in an attempt to garner success, but failed. Genya Ravan's strong personality and forceful leadership of the band has been cited as a major factor in the band's split. Frustration due to making little profit from their record releases may also have been an issue.
Lewis, MacDonald and O'Grady, along with Suzi Ghezzi, later formed the nucleus of Jazz-Fusion band Isis. Ravan went on to release several solo albums, and later founded the jazz fusion band Ten Wheel Drive. Ravan's memoirs, entitled Lollipop Lounge: Memoirs of a Rock and Roll Refugee, were published in 2004 by Billboard Books.
On February 3, 1998, Goldie and The Gingerbreads were honored with the Touchstone Award for Women in Music. This distinction is given to women who "have the courage and inspiration to make a difference in the music industry and whose work has set new standards.
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