Formed in February 1986, Talulah Gosh were a guitar-pop group from Oxford, who formed because they wanted to support The Pastels. They quickly became one of the leading bands of the twee pop movement (“innocent” music, naive image, sloppy clothes and hairstyles, hesitant stance, “Cuties”, anoraks etc).
Led by Marigold and Pebbles, Talulah Gosh (from the Jodie Foster character in Bugsy Malone, nobody knows where the missing ‘L’ went) blended young guitars, which half-hustled with an infectious joy, with a bright, wide-eyed innocence which recalled the Marine Girls.
Live, they stood stock-still, smiled sweetly and then blew the audience away with a hurtling and shambolic wall of guitar, sending shards of splintering little girl pop perfection flying like crippling pop shrapnel through songs with titles like Beatnik Boy, Steaming Train, and Pastels Badge.
They signed to the Edinburgh label 53rd & 3rd, recording their first single over a weekend trip to Scotland in the summer of 1986.
Many people tended to react to Talulah Gosh with derision or outright hostility. The music press loathed them and in some quarters their name is still a byword for the effete underachieving tweeness of pre-Madchester indie.
The band were taken more seriously in the US, where people were less inclined to scoff at hairslides and lollipops and recognise a steely feminism at the core of their approach. They were an influence on the unique punk scene in Washington’s Olympia, and thus on the Riot Grrrl movement it spawned.
Singer Liz Price left in late 1986 and was replaced in the new year by Eithne Farry, a punk girl from Battersea.
The group announced their breakup in early 1988. In an interview at the time, Amelia explained how Mathew (her brother) wanted the band to play hard-core punk, Peter wanted to be like The Stooges, Chris wanted to go into avant-garde noise and Eithne into hip-hop. Amelia herself favoured disco.
With such unity of purpose, it is really no wonder that Talulah Gosh split up, playing their last show at the London School of Economics on 5 February 1988.
Elizabeth Price went on to win the 2012 Turner Prize for her video The Woolworth’s Choir of 1979.
Drummer Mathew Fletcher committed suicide in 1996.
Elizabeth “Pebbles” Price
Amelia “Marigold” Fletcher