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The guitarist Kim McAuliffe from Girlschool is still going strong after more than 45 years of rocking

Girlschool, recognized as the longest-running all-female rock band, toured numerous times with the British band Motörhead over nearly 40 years.

Girlschool, known as the longest-running all-female rock band, toured many times with the British band Motörhead for almost 40 years.

Guitarist Kim McAuliffe can clearly recall one of their early encounters. Initially hesitant about meeting them because they had only seen a photograph of the band, she said with a laugh that they thought 'What the hell?' photograph of them, and we thought ‘What the hell?’” she said with a laugh — the band turned out to be “just cuddly bears basically” and one of Girlschool’s biggest champions. And, of course, they liked to have fun and play pranks, especially singer/bassist Lemmy Kilmister.

“They always used to bring us in a crate of beer — this was on the very first tour because we had no money. So he always used to just bring us in quite a bit, wish us good luck to the gig, blah blah blah, and this particular time, Lemmy was hanging around a bit longer than normal,” McAuliffe recalled in a recent Zoom call from Manningtree, England. “They’d just come in, and we were just about to go on stage, thinking this is a bit strange; eventually he leaves the dressing room.

“Then we were just about to go on and I opened my guitar case and I screamed my head off. I thought there was a human head in there, but it was half a pig’s head with its ears sticking up. I can still see it now, even all these years later, and that’s obviously what he was waiting for, but he didn’t have the satisfaction of actually seeing it, but he could hear us screaming,” she said with a laugh.

That’s just one of the stories McAuliffe could share about her 46 years in Girlschool, if she ever decides to write an autobiography. And there could be more to add, as the band is currently on Part 1 of its final North American tour. They’ll visit Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale on April 4 along with Lillian Axe and Alcatrazz.

This will be their first full North American tour since 2015 — “It’s been bloody difficult getting there, I’ve got to say that,” McAuliffe said. “I mean talk about jumping through hoops with all the interviews, the embassy things, whatever, but they finally allowed us in.”

Did the band raise a little bit too much hell the last time they were here?

“Yeah probably. They said, yeah, we’re not having them back,” she said with a laugh.

It’s also quite possibly their first Pittsburgh stop since Feb. 26, 1984, when they opened for Blue Öyster Cult at the Stanley Theatre (now the Benedum Center). That tour didn’t ring a bell for McAuliffe.

“Bloody hell. I don’t remember being in that,” she said. “I know we’ve toured with Blue Oyster Cult many times; I don’t remember being in America (with them).”


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Whether it was Blue Öyster Cult or Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Deep Purple or Motörhead, Girlschool hit the road with many of their favorites.

“Throughout the years, there’s been so many,” McAuliffe said. “We’re so lucky to have met and become friends with quite a few of our childhood heroes, which is, if you’d have told me then when I was like 15, 16, I would never have believed it.”

Girlschool started in 1978 as a band that played songs by other artists and didn't plan to be only a girl group.

McAuliffe said they became a female band because no boys wanted to play with them, and they weren't very good at playing music at first.

They improved a lot as they went on tours and released albums like “Demolition” in 1980, “Hit and Run” in 1981 and “Screaming Blue Murder” in 1982. They sometimes had difficulty being categorized, despite thinking of themselves as a rock and roll band.

They faced challenges when playing in different music clubs, being labelled as punk in heavy metal clubs and vice versa.

McAuliffe doesn't think about being a pioneer much, but she believes that similar bands would come after Girlschool.

They were expecting to see many girl bands or female musicians emerge, but it didn't happen until fairly recently, which surprised them. only It took a while for many female musicians to emerge, and they were surprised that it only happened fairly recently.

Throughout their career, there were changes in the lineup, but McAuliffe and drummer Denise Dufort remained constant. They lost founding guitarist Kelly Johnson to spinal cancer in 2007 and founding bassist Enid Williams has been in and out, departing again in 2019.

With McAuliffe, Dufort, bassist Tracey Lamb and lead guitarist Jackie Chambers, the band released their latest album “WTFortyfive?” last year which was well received.

Their previous release was in 2015, and their record label kept urging them for another record. The release was delayed due to covid, until UDR Music insisted on its completion.

With great songs like lead single “Are You Ready?” and “It Is What It Is,” Girlschool demonstrated that they are still as catchy and heavy as before.

They are very pleased with the album but are surprised that the record company is already asking for another one, considering it took them 8 to 10 years to make the last one.

If this was to be their final album, they wanted it to be memorable and go out with a bang.

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