‘Play Like A Girl!’: June Millington’s Pop-Up Exhibit Opens in Northampton

Photo by Carolyn Brown '16 | An exhibition about June Millington of the band Fanny is on view in downtown Northampton.

Photo by Carolyn Brown ’16 | An exhibition about June Millington of the band Fanny is on view in downtown Northampton.

 

Laura Green ’18
Assistant Arts Editor

June Millington has been an icon in the music industry since the 1970s as one of the founding members of Fanny – the first all-female rock band to sign to a major label. Her extraordinary life is chronicled in a new pop-up exhibit entitled “Play Like A Girl!,” which is on display in the former Hempest storefront in downtown Northampton. The exhibit will remain up until Feb. 28. It is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day and has extended hours until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Born in Manila, Philippines, Millington discovered music at an early age. She started with piano, moving to ukulele and then acoustic guitar before discovering her passion for the electric guitar. After moving to Los Angeles, she started Fanny with her sister and two other women, and soon after, they were signed to the label that became Warner Bros. The band began to take off with its first self-titled album. They even played on two Barbra Streisand songs in 1971. “We were in love with the sound coming out of our throats,” Millington says in the video playing in a backroom of the exhibit.

The walls of the storefront-turned-gallery-space have been plastered with huge photos of the band, photos of Millington as a young girl and woman and newspaper clippings from the ’70s. The eyeliner and mini dresses are enviable. The memorabilia on display gives a glimpse of the glamour of the time, with records playing on a turntable and pieces of rock history all around.

Visitors can even play a guitar attached to an amp that toured with David Bowie.

Bowie once said of Fanny, “One of the most important female bands in American rock has been buried without a trace. And that is Fanny. They were one of the finest … rock bands of their time, in about 1973. They were extraordinary.” Millington left the band in 1973, saying she didn’t like the outfits they were made to wear. According to one of the wall texts at the exhibit, she realized she is a feminist around this time.

After leaving Fanny, Millington co-founded the Institute for Musical Arts, a rock n’ roll camp for girls to help them build self-esteem, encourage female friendships and, of course, learn to rock. This camp still operates to this day in Goshen, Mass.

“We’re changing the world, one girl at a time, with music,” Millington said of the project. She teaches campers the technical side of music as well, so they will be more capable and respected when they enter the music industry.

“Play Like A Girl!” brings Fanny and June Millington back into the spotlight in a big way. It highlights the importance of remembering the pioneers that came before us and how far we still have to go in terms of women’s equality in the music business. Millington has been an inspiration to many for over 40 years, and this exhibit shows all she has done for music and women. If you’re lucky, you might spot Millington by her long white hair, mingling in the crowd.

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