John Lydon, her stepfather, announced the sad news yesterday in a succinct note published on her website:
“John and Nora have asked us to let everyone know that Nora’s daughter, Arianna (aka Ari-Up), died today (Wednesday, 20th October) after a serious illness. She will be sadly missed.”
Born in Munich on 1st January 1962 into a wealthy family (she was the granddaughter of the proprietor of “Der Spiegel”, one of the most important German newspapers), Ari Up will always be remembered as the soul and vocalist of The Slits (founded in London in 1976 with Paloma Romero, a.k.a. Palmolive, when she was just 14), the band that played a fundamental role in the history of British punk. Their debut album, “Cut” (Island/Antilles, 1979), ranks high in the creative peaks of English post-punk. Close friends with The Clash (Ari took her first guitar lessons from Joe Strummer) and Don Letts (he was their manager for two years), The Slits became the main representatives of guitar punk with Jamaican reggae dub influences, and one of the few truly feminine and feminist voices—more than The Raincoats or Kleeniex/Liliput—on the punk scene.
Although her following productions (after The Slits split in 1981, Ari joined New Age Steppers, one of the collectives associated with the On-U Sound label, and then continued playing solo as Baby Ari, Madussa or Ari Up) never reached the levels of brilliance of her first albums with The Slits, her enormous influence can be tracked in numerous fields, from the riot grrrl movement of the mid-90’s to the post-punk revival and contemporary dubstep.
In 2005, Ari Up reactivated The Slits with the original bass player, Tessa Pollitt. Since then, they had been touring and recording sporadically, their last album being “Trapped Animal” (Narnack, 2009), released in October last year.
There won’t be more music by Ari Up. Rest in peace.