Barbie Army

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The Barbie Army was an all-girl punk rock garage band from Chicago in the 1980s, when all-girl punk bands were still pretty rare (before Riot Grrrls). Lead by Jean Lyons (center in the picture) the band was originally formed at The University of Chicago. Falling in with a barely-reputable t-shirt designer who had connections in the Chicago Blues scene, the band had a year of performing in the Chicago Blues "Chitlin Curciut", billing themselves as a Blues "Freak Show". Venues included the Cuddle Inn at 54th and Ashland, as well as the West Side's Sexy Kitten Lounge on North Avenue and, of course, the old Checkerboard Lounge at 43rd and King. It was at the Checkerboard that founder Jean Lyons was accosted by bluesman Junior Wells, who asked her the eternal question: "If there was a fight between me and a bulldog, who would you bet on?" The band enjoyed one out-of-state tour with the bands Sponge and Burning Rain where they played in Memphis, Nashville and Carbondale. They recorded their first cassette, Barbies Don't Bleed with Lee Popa in the famous Joy's Garage studio.

Their original song "Take Down the Flag" enjoyed a brief surge in popularity on college radio stations in the aftermath of September 11th. Group Members (from the band's website) "Group members: Back-stabbing, catfights and boyfriend-bashing broke up and refigured the band over the years. Founding members were Jean Lyons (guitar), Mary Dean (guitar), Tina Matlock (drums) and Judy Johnson (bass). Other talented women who played with the Barbies included bassists Glynis Johnson, Lyn Pusztai, Christine 'Sixteen' Garcia, Liz Tate, Joan Baby, and Tanya Mushinsky; and guitarists Ellen Phillips, Debbie Jurek and Alena Lemon."

Prior to Barbie Army, members Judy Johnson and Jean Lyons performed with Russ Forster in the short-lived band "Fudge Tunnel" in 1985.

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