Although they formed a little over two years ago, all-girl punk and new wave cover band The Sex Pissed Dolls (who have been increasingly going by the shortened name of ‘The Dolls’) have enjoyed rather a meteoric rise. From club gigs before a few curious folk to headlining steadily bigger venues, and with a growing fan base (some of whom will think nothing of travelling up and down the country to wherever they play), they’ve recently made a jump to performing at the legendary Isle of Wight festival before several thousand people. With the band having also signed up with the prestigious Solo agency and promoter, their rise seemed to be unstoppable.
It therefore came as a surprise to many fans when a Facebook post appeared (just days after their Isle of Wight appearances) inviting applicants for the guitarist position. As far as fans were aware they already had two guitarists, and with no further information forthcoming at that point their followers began to wonder which of the two would be leaving the group. We got our answer late on Thursday night, when it surfaced that both lead guitarist Connie Rotter and rhythm guitarist Kitty Vacant had parted company with the Dolls. They announced their departure via Facebook, but the posts were missed by some followers. The posts explained that as neither of them had access to the profiles set up in their stage names any longer, they had announced their departure using the profiles set up with their real names.
The news was a big blow to the fanbase (informally dubbed the ‘Dolls Barmy Army’); both girls were very popular as they brought not just good looks, but personality and considerable playing talent to the group. Connie had been with the group since summer 2014; coming in for their original guitarist who hadn’t worked out and was let go after some early gigs. She was soon joined by Kitty, expanding the original quartet to a quintet. The addition of a rhythm guitar player made a massive difference to their sound; I’d felt on the two occasions I’d seen them before they pitched up in Liverpool in April 2015 that they could do with a bit more ‘punch’ to their live sound and that was exactly what Kitty Vacant provided. She was the final piece in the jigsaw with her heavier sound giving the Dolls a much more solid foundation. Until then, it had been singer Nancy Doll who had essentially carried the whole thing along with her dynamic performances, but now she had a rock-solid band behind her. The tour in Spring 2015 took in many o2 Academy type venues, and I was so impressed with the new-look Dolls line-up that I began to follow them more regularly, going to see them in Manchester, Wrexham, Holmfirth, Wigan and even going further afield, to Nottingham, Lincoln and Bilston when schedules permitted. I began to notice there were a crowd of regulars also following them around and before I knew it, I was a member of the Dolls Barmy Army myself!
As word spread about the Dolls, they began to attract bigger crowds and by the autumn, they’d arranged a special show at Warrington Parr Hall which was to be filmed for a live DVD release. The gig was a success, drawing fans from all over the country, and the DVD was issued in double-quick time coming just a month after the show itself took place. By the end of that year, plans were already in place for their next tour and they revealed they were to perform at several high-profile events including the Isle of Wight festival, and at an afterparty following the British Grand Prix. With what looked to be a packed schedule, and with the band’s profile still rising, it is very surprising looking at it from the outside, that they’d lose both their guitar players at the same time just days after their biggest triumph to date.
The timing suggests they’d made the decision jointly and that they’d agreed to play the Isle of Wight before announcing their exit. The Dolls camp themselves only posted about it the next day, thanking them for their contributions and confirming all future dates booked would take place. That suggests that they have a replacement already lined up, given that it is only a couple of weeks before they are due to perform again they’d surely need time to meet the new guitarist (or guitarists!), get to know her, settle in and get some rehearsal in before unveiling the new axelady to the Dolls Barmy Army. At the time of writing the identity of this new six-stringer is unknown but what is clear is that she will have a big job following Connie and Kitty. I would hope that the band don’t do what they did when their original drummer moved to LA; her stage name of ‘Anna Key’ was reused for her successor. They got away with that because at the time of the original Anna’s departure, they were still getting themselves known. When the new Anna took over, she was captured on video for the aforementioned live DVD, and they have since become a popular live act, so it is the current drummer who is now firmly established as ‘Anna Key’. To reuse either the ‘Connie Rotter’ or ‘Kitty Vacant’ stage names for any new guitarist will not work however, the names may have been thought up by the management (and very good they were) but it was the petite blonde with the Les Paul who breathed life into Connie Rotter; similarly the feisty, Telecaster wielding Kitty Vacant was given life by the shy young brunette girl she reverted to once off stage.
So a new start and may I suggest, a new name for the next Dolls guitarist. With a new stage name she’ll settle in much quicker and be much more readily accepted by the band’s followers. If anyone from the Dolls camp is reading this rather long post, they are welcome to use ‘Catherine Sensible’, or even ‘Shelley Peters’ for free! 😀
As for the artists formerly known as Connie Rotter and Kitty Vacant, both have fresh plans and have invited Dolls fans to stay in contact in order to hear what they come up with next. Linked is a photo album collecting pictures of the girls on stage during their tenure with the Dolls, followed by embedded links to their current Facebook pages.