Thursday, March 16, 2017

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: The Motels and Theodora

March is Girl Women's History Month.

Fact: girls can do things too!

Fact: girls can't do rock and roll, or so one might conclude from the paucity of females inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (motto: "We've got Randy Newman!"). Real fact: girls can do rock and roll (some of them).

Since I am enjoying getting on my high horse (or getting high on horse), I'm going to double dip with a series of girl-on-girl posts. It's a combination of a female musical act (or a band with a female member [possibly more]) that merits* induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a female who did something like bake a cake or killed a guy (Laura Bush killed a guy).

I wonder if the overlapping careers of The Motels, Scandal, and Quarterflash was too much for 1982 America to handle, thus imploding all 3 bands.

Follow-up question: would you include Missing Persons on that list?

The Motels have a long and confusing history, starting more than a decade before their MTV-aided success. Singer Martha Davis seems like a consistent presence in the band and clearly felt sufficient importance that the band became The Motels featuring Matha Davis then Martha Davis and the Motels and there's even a section on Martha Davis's solo career in the Wikipedia entry for The Motels. Could Martha's need to assert her role in terms of branding the band be the reason there are 31 former band members listed there? (You might be one of them, be sure to check!)

Would I have even said something if it was about Rob Thomas and Matchbox 20 or Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers? Yes. I totally would bust anyone who started as a member who of a band and who puts him/herself ahead of the others in billing. If you want to be Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, start as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I will also allow for that naming convention if an established artist joins and established band: Gloria Estefan and the Attractions, for example. 

Theodora was an empress in the Byzantine empire and is a Saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Like the influential women of Juan Perón's life, Theodora's early career was in a brothel and/or as a nightclub performer. Then, when she turned 16, she traveled as a concubine of the Syrian governor of part of Libya (better than working at Hardee's).

Eventually she married Emperor Justinian and when rival factions tried to install a new emperor, it was Theodora who persuaded Justinian's course of action, keeping him in power. She is responsible for reforms to the laws around the rights of women, many of them related to owning women as sex slaves (for some reason she was against this).

* There is a wide spectrum of rock & roll gravitas for the artists included in the 31 I will include. I feel like a reasonable case can be made for each, and everyone one of these is at least as worthy as Randy Newman, 2103 inductee.

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