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Genya Ravan, a.k.a. Goldie (born Genyusha Zelkovicz; April 19, 1940) is an American rock singer and producer. She was lead singer of The Escorts, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, and Ten Wheel Drive.
Life and career
Ravan was born in Łódź, Poland in 1940 and emigrated to the United States in 1947, accompanied by her parents and one sister. They were her only family members who had survived the Nazi Holocaust in Europe; she also had two brothers, who both died. The family did not speak any English when they arrived. Genya was named 'Goldie' by her mother, who claimed Genyusha was not American enough.
Early success and Goldie and The Gingerbreads
Goldie's career started in 1962 in a Brooklyn club called The Lollipop Lounge, which is also the title of her autobiography published by Billboard Books. On a dare, she jumped up to sing, which she states was the first time she had heard her voice. She was asked to join the band The Escorts, which featured Richard Perry as one of the members. After signing to Decca's subsidiary Coral Records and being produced by Henry Jerome, she found success with a cover of "Somewhere" from West Side Story, which went to number one in parts of the Midwest.
In 1963, she formed Goldie and The Gingerbreads after meeting drummer Ginger Bianco in a Greenwich Village bar. After seeing the band at a party for the Rolling Stones, Atlantic Records Chairman Ahmet Ertegün signed them to Atlantic subsidiary Atco Records.
While playing at New York City's hot spot The Wagon Wheel on 45th Street in Times Square, Mike Jeffries, Eric Burdon, Hilton Valentine, and Chas Chandler spotted them and wanted them to come to England. Goldie and The Gingerbreads toured with the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, the Hollies and Manfred Mann. They released their hit song "Can't You Hear My Heart Beat" in 1965, which reached number 25 on the UK Singles Chart. The band stayed in London for two years.
Ten Wheel Drive and solo career
Billed as "Goldie", she released the original version of the Carole King-Gerry Goffin composition "Goin' Back" in the spring of 1966. However, this single was withdrawn within a week by producer Andrew Loog Oldham due to disagreements with Goffin and King over altered lyrics. The song was covered by Dusty Springfield three months later, making the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
In 1969, Ravan and partners Aram Schefrin and Mike Zager formed Ten Wheel Drive, which lasted three years. They recorded three albums for Polydor Records: Construction number 1, Brief Replies, Peculiar Friends Are Better Than No Friends. Ravan left the band in 1972. She was signed to Columbia Records by Clive Davis where she made one album in 1972 titled Genya Ravan. She made four more solo albums through the 1970s.
"She oversings, the band's ordinary, and the lyrics (both hers and those she chooses) often get blowzy; the only grade-A cuts are 'Jerry's Pigeons' and (A plus) 'The Sweetest One.' So maybe I'm soft—maybe I just can't resist a real New York doll. In a woman who combines the hip cool of Lou Reed with the emotionality of Springsteen, a case of Joplinitis—a rare disease these days—is rather endearing."
–Review of Urban Desire in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981)
Ravan performed at the Atlanta Pop Festival, twice at Carnegie Hall and twice at Madison Square Garden, along with various clubs in Boston, and Philadelphia, and New York City, including the famous CBGB. She appeared on television shows including The Mike Douglas Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Della, and The Dick Cavett Show.
Many Ten Wheel Drive tracks have been sampled by hip hop artists, including "Ain't Gonna Happen", which Jay-Z used in his song "1-900-Hustler" on the 2000 album The Dynasty. He also sampled Ravan's version of "Whipping Post" from her album Goldie Zelkowitz for his song "Oh My God" on the 2006 album Kingdom Come.
In 2011, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum included Goldie and The Gingerbreads in their "Women in Music" exhibit, which traveled from state to state. Genya Ravan toured in 2013, selling out New York City's Iridium.
In 2013, Ravan appeared at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, alongside legends like Wanda Jackson, Martha Reeves, Maria Muldaur and Tracy Nelson as part of the museum's "Women Who Rock" exhibit. She and Reeves discovered professional connections in that both worked with Richard Perry and were signed by Clive Davis. Further, one of the first songs Ravan learned when she came to the US was "What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue", made famous by Fats Waller; Reeves had performed the song while starring in the road show of Ain't Misbehavin'. The two planned on working on a future project together.
Ravan has worked as a producer for multiple record labels. Among others, she was responsible for the debut album Young Loud and Snotty by the punk rock band Dead Boys (1977), and the comeback album Siren by Ronnie Spector (1982). She also contributed vocals to the latter album. In 2001 Ravan discovered Tripod at CBGB and produced their demo CD, adding backup vocals to one track. She brought David Lasley and his blue-eyed soul group Rosie to Mike Berniker at RCA, got them a deal and produced their album Better Late Than Never.
In 2006, Steven Van Zandt recruited Ravan to host two monthly radio shows: Chicks and Broads, playing women from the 1950s to the present day, and Goldies Garage, which featured unsigned bands. Genya Ravan said, "So much talent out there and not enough places for them to be heard anymore" on Van Zandt's Underground Garage radio channel, aired on Sirius Satellite Radio in North America and on Sirius Internet Radio worldwide. Ravan joined a team of hosts that includes original Rolling Stones manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham, whom she worked with as Goldie.
- Construction #1, Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan, 1969
- Brief Replies, Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan, 1970
- Peculiar Friends, Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan, 1971
- Genya Ravan, 1972
- They Love Me, They Love Me Not, 1973
- Goldie Zelkowitz, 1974
- Urban Desire, 1978 - AUS #66
- ...And I Mean It!, 1979
- Best of Ten Wheel Drive Compilation, 1995
- For Fans Only!, 2003
- Genya Ravan Live, 2006
- Undercover, 2010
- Cheesecake Girl, 2013 Aha Music
- Icon, 2019 Aha Music
- Genya Live at CBGB (recorded in 2005) 2020 (Remaster/Reissue of 2006 CD) (Rum Bar Records)
- Thinking About The Good Times: Complete Recordings 1964-1966 Compilation, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, 2021 Ace
In early 2016, Royal Family Productions produced a workshop for a musical based on the life of Genya Ravan titled Rock And Roll Refugee.
In the movie The Warriors (1979), the song that plays when Cochise, Rembrandt and Vermin are in the Lizzie's HQ is "Love Is a Fire" by Genya Ravan. The song is featured on The Warriors soundtrack album.
- Browne, David; Browne, David (2021-07-01). "Goldie and the Gingerbreads Were One of Rock's First All-Women Bands. Why Are They Still So Obscure?". Rolling Stone (in American English). Retrieved 2022-01-17.
- "Genya Ravan". Discogs. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- "Genya Ravan". AllMusic. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "Goldie & The Gingerbreads". AllMusic. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 990. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
- Palmer, Robert (1978-08-04). "Pop: Genya Ravan At the Bottom Line". The New York Times (in American English). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-01-17.
- Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: R". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 10, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
- Mauck, Chrissy (October 18, 2013). "The MIM Presents Women Who Rock Exhibit". Fender.com. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
Emcee Beth McDonald of KEZ 99.9 FM hosted a Q&A session with Jackson and Reeves, as well as folk-blues singer Maria Muldaur, singer Tracy Nelson and Genya Ravan (aka Goldie of the groundbreaking all-female band Goldie and the Gingerbreads).
- Rockwell, John (1975-09-12). "Genya Ravan Evokes Joplin Manner". The New York Times (in American English). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-01-17.
- Better Late Than Never - Rosie | Credits | AllMusic, retrieved 2022-01-17
- Ravan, Genya (2016). Lollipop Lounge. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1492921820.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 246. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Rock & Roll Refugee | Times Square | Royal Family". Royalfamilyproductions.org. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
- "Stana Katic". IMDb.com. Retrieved May 23, 2013.