“The whole time the wheels were slowly falling off the bus."
Exactly 30 years ago, on the ARIA chart for the week ending April 26, 1992, five fresh-faced girls burst onto the music scene with their debut single.
Take It From Me by Girlfriend soared to #1 and a new pop phenomenon was born, seemingly overnight. In the new episode of podcast A Journey Through Aussie Pop, four of the members of the homegrown girl group reminisce about their road to stardom, their period of hit singles and sold-out tours, and what happened when “it all started to unravel”, according to Melanie Alexander.
Alexander, along with Robyn Loau, Jacqui Cowell, Siobhann Heidenreich and Lorinda Noble (the only former member unable to join the two-part podcast special), maintained a rigorous schedule across 1992 and 1993, with multiple overseas promo trips, a stream of hit singles from their two albums and a constant presence in the local media. That workload took its toll, especially with the girls surviving on a diet of cereal and buttered toast and relying on roadies to shout them lunch.
“We were working so hard and not seeing anything,” Loau recalled. “We were selling out venues every single school holidays and only getting paid $50 a show. There were loads of people that needed to be paid before we were paid.”
When Loau left the group to go solo in 1994, Girlfriend became GF4, with the new-look group taking on a sexier image. A recording trip to the US to work with producers like Nile Rodgers, Steve Kipner and Tommy Faragher and Lotti Golden suggested big things were still to come, but instead the group ended in 1995.
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“The whole time the wheels were slowly falling off the bus,” Alexander said. “We just didn’t want to give it up.”
Although relatively short-lived, Girlfriend left an important legacy, with the Australian girl group providing the template and “girl power” catchphrase for a team of UK managers to put together another quintet who would follow in their footsteps.
Listen to A Journey Through Aussie Pop on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and all major podcast platforms or at chartbeats.com.au/aussie.