1 9 7 6 – 1 9 7 7 (UK)
12 x 50 minute episodes
Penned by emigre New Yorker Howard Schuman, Rock Follies followed the fortunes of singers Dee (Julie Covington, who later went on to fame as Evita with Don’t Cry For Me Argentina), Anna (Charlotte Cornwell) and Q (Rula Lenska), through the ruthless world of the music business with all its ups and downs.
The three girls initially meet up at a West End audition for a 1930s musical called Broadway Annie. Dee is working as a magician’s assistant, Anna is a “resting” actor and ‘Q’ has been starring in skin flicks.
Fate brings them together and they become The Little Ladies, dreaming of gigging at Wembley as the greatest female rock group in the world.
The Little Ladies tour Britain singing in pubs, bingo halls, discos and clubs, and when they earn an encore at Cambridge, they know their plan is working. Meanwhile, Dee picks up a groupie who becomes their roadie.
Following a number of ups and downs, the group meet Stavros Kuklas, a Greek millionaire who has decided to diversify from shipping into rock ‘n’ roll.
Stavros doesn’t like their style, their look, their clothes, their songs or their arrangements – but he does like their raw material.
He has big plans, big ideas and an image change for the girls, which results in them becoming a sensation at ‘Idols’ nightclub.
Eccentric, utterly original and a teeny bit weird, Rock Follies won the BAFTA Best Drama Series award in 1976.
In the second series, Follies of ’77, The Little Ladies are managed by the dynamic and splendidly outrageous Kitty Schreiber (Beth Porter), whose catchphrase is “Kray-Zee”.
Hitting the recording studio, success becomes a reality for the girls as the group score on Rock Box, a TV show, with their single Welcome to the Follies of ’77. And at the Electric Empire, they pack in the fans.
However, their success begins to create tensions, and Kitty has her hands full trying to paper over the cracks. The girls are briefly joined by a Welsh singer, Rox, making the group a quartet.
The Little Ladies celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee with an electrifying tour and finally make it all the way to Wembley. But as the show bites the dust, Anna discovers that her voice had been re-recorded behind her back by Dee.
This Thames Television serial was very hip at the time – Drugs, sex, homosexuality, the whole seventies trip . . . and it was as exciting visually as it often was musically.
Dee and Anna were the only two who could actually sing but Q looked fantastic!
The original Rock Follies series aired between February 24th and March 30th, 1976. The Follies of ’77 series aired between May 4th and June 8th, 1977. Two albums of surprisingly good music from the series were released, mostly composed by Andy Mackay of Roxy Music.
A few years after The Rock Follies ended, the Americans attempted to recreate the success with 3 Girls 3. It was described as “a variety show about the lives of three cabaret-style singers”. It did not translate well and was a flop.
Three actresses who sang together as a group called Rock Bottom (who?) claimed Rock Follies was about them and won half a million pounds in a court case for it.
“Q” Nancy Cunard de Longchamps
Devonia “Dee” Rhodes
The Show Business | The Little Ladies | The Road | The Talking Pictures | The Pounds Sterling | The Blitz || The Band Who Wouldn’t Die | The Empire | The Hype | The Loony Tunes | The Divorce | The Real Life