Bananarama open up on how they inspired a nation of female bands including All Saints and Spice Girls

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·4 min read
Bananarama, who are still performing together today, say they're happy to have inspired feisty female groups! (Image: Getty Images)
Bananarama, who are still performing together today, say they're happy to have inspired feisty female groups! (Image: Getty Images)

As one of the most successful female groups of all time, Bananarama had 28 top 50 hits between 1982 and 2009. Their legacy doesn’t just lie in great, up-tempo pop tunes though – their often-maligned attitude also spawned a host of girl bands who were doing it for themselves.

Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin, who were appearing on White Wine Question Time, were chatting with Kate Thornton about forging paths for women in music – in particular, the Spice Girls

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“I think Emma [Bunton] said we were the first concert she went to, which was very sweet,” recalled Dallin.

“Mel B is always very flattering. She said she'd seen us on TV and just thought ‘That attitude, that whole thing that, you know, I want to do that!’

Thornton, who is good friends with All Saints, said that she knew Bananarama had been a huge influence on them.

Listen now: Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin recall their career highlights

“You wrote the handbook for other female bands that came after you,” she said.

“I remember Nic and Nat [Appleton] sort of going, when somebody was pushing them into doing something they didn't want to do in All Saints, ‘F*** it, Bananarama wouldn't do it!”

In an interview with Music News a few years ago, Natalie Appleton admitted how much of an influence Bananarama had been on her and the rest of the band.

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“We were always more like boys anyway,” she said. “I think emotionally, even though musically they weren’t similar at all, the closest predecessor we had was probably Bananarama. They didn’t give a s*** about what other people thought either. They just had a laugh.”

Woodward said when the duo were promoting their album last year she was surprised on how many women in high powered jobs they had inspired.

All Saints have often said that Bananarama were an influence on him (Image: Getty Images)
All Saints have often said that Bananarama were an influence on him (Image: Getty Images)

The singer recalled: “I was amazed at how many women, such as editors in high powered jobs said, 'Oh, I don't think I'd be doing this if I hadn't looked up to you because it sort of made me think I can do that!'.”

Dallin, who looked up to Debbie Harry when she was a teenager, said it was important for young girls to have role models.

“They just need someone to look up to in all kinds of industries,” said the 58-year-old, “to just think ‘Yes, I can do that!’ because if it's not there, you can't aspire to that.

As a trio, the band had a reputation for being surly and ‘difficult’. The girls however believe that label came about because taking control annoyed the men who ran the industry in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

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“Being called difficult is so irritating,” admitted Keren. “It just means that people can't take advantage of you - that's what it is really.”

“To be able to wear what you want and sort of look how you want as opposed to, you know, some record execs idea of what might sell a record…. They let us get on with it when it was working!”

Pete Waterman, who worked with the band for several years, admitted that they were an interesting band to work with. In a previous interview, he called them “outrageous”.

Pete Waterman has said that the trio were 'outrageous' but great fun to work with (Image: Getty Images)
Pete Waterman has said that the trio were 'outrageous' but great fun to work with (Image: Getty Images)

“I look back at 30 years and working with Bananarama was the best buzz because you never knew what you were going to get,” he recalled.

“They’d drive you to dementia or get you locked up – there was nothing in between. You could be outrageous when you were with Bananarama because they would be doubly outrageous. “

Despite having a huge string of hits and making it into the Guinness Book Of Records for achieving the world's highest number of chart entries by an all-female group, the pair both agree that being a role model has been one of the most gratifying aspects of their career.

“It's more satisfying to hear from other women than getting an award or anything, to actually know that you may have inspired somebody,” said Dallin.

Listen to the full episode to hear Keren and Sarah reminiscence about their time living in the Sex Pistol’s studio and why their friendship has lasted so long. Find it now on iTunes and Spotify.

Watch: Mel C is championing a Spice Girls reunion