Ari Up (1962-2010)
Ariane Daniele Forster was more widely known by the stage name she adopted as a 14 year old punk rocker, Ari Up. Born in Munich, her mother Nora set up home in London around the time of Britain’s burgeoning punk scene (eventually marrying John Lydon).
Surrounded by punk musicians Ari learnt guitar from Joe Strummer, then became the front person of all-girl punks The Slits, the group she formed with ‘Palmolive’, Strummer’s onetime girlfriend. The Slits went on to support The Clash on their first major UK tour, the White Riot Tour.
Despite her tender years, Ari Up was a fearless and flamboyant performer. Rather than following the pack, her band eschewed the three-chord thrash that was quickly becoming clichéd, and explored reggae influences. Their debut album Cut is a post-punk masterpiece brimming with scratchy punk, dub reggae and catchy hooks. It also encapsulates the energetic impudence The Slits were famed for during their chaotic live performances.
After the band split in 1981, Ari and her husband and twin children lived amongst indigenous people in remoter areas of Indonesia and Belize. Later they settled in Kingston, Jamaica.
Musically, she continued to create wonderfully eclectic sounds, first with the New Age Steppers, then solo under the handles Baby Ari and Maduaa. Dread More Dan Dead, her first solo album, was released in 2005.
The Slits reformed in 2006 and toured extensively. Ari Up appeared appeared on Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry's 2008 album, Repentance.
One of her last recordings was in May 2010 in New York was on a track with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry recorded by Subatomic Sound System, released in August 2010 on 7" vinyl called ‘Hello, Hell is Very Low’ b/w ‘Bed Athletes’. The Slit's final work, the video for the song ‘Lazy Slam’ from Trapped Animal, was released posthumously in accordance with Ari Up's wishes.
Ari Up died in Los Angeles on 20 October 2010. She had been suffering from cancer. Her death was initially announced on John Lydon's website.