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Jul 3, 2018

The Girl in the Back


The Girl in the Back, a Female Drummer’s Life with Bowie, Blondie, and the 70’s Rock Scene by Laura Davis-Chainin ’78?. While students at Friends, Laura and her friend Bill Arning were drawn to the exciting world of rock, playing out just a few blocks away at rock-mecca CBGB. When they decide to form their own band, the Student Teachers, Laura finds herself struggling to maintain equilibrium between her daytime school life and her nighttime rehearsals and gigs in the band. With minimal parental support, Laura is swept into a world of drugs, easy money alternating with homelessness, and intense relationships with men who seem to have made it to the big time. Laura tries to figure out who she is and how to push back to reach her own goals. Jimmy Destri of Blondie becomes a major love, and this relationship propels her willy-nilly into adulthood. Through Destri, she meets Bowie, who despite his star glamour, cuts through the haziness surrounding Laura, to guide her towards her own dreams.

So often in that era, Bill would come up to me in the cafeteria and tell me about CBGB and the Student Teachers. I regret that I never went to see them play, but fortunately they are available on YouTube. There they are, so achingly young, so truly adorable and talented, filled with so much longing to take the world by storm.

Laura’s life took some major turns after she left the rock world, but many of the friendships from that era are lasting. The photos are wonderful; I loved seeing Mary Beth (Laura’s sister) just as I remember her. There’s an introduction by Georgia Hubley, a Friends alum who became a well-known drummer; she testifies to the importance of the female percussion section of the Student Teachers to her own career.


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