HomeBensalem TimesGirlschool’s final North American tour coming to Broken Goblet

Girlschool’s final North American tour coming to Broken Goblet

Guitarist Jackie Chambers shares details on the all-female rock band’s impressive 46-year history

Rockstars: Girlschool is (from L) Tracey Lamb, Kim McAuliffe, Denise Dufort and Jackie Chambers. Source: Dragon Productions

Throughout the history of rock music, the genre has always been largely male-dominated. From Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, it’s a rarity to find an all-female band, let alone one with lasting success in the industry. 

But Girlschool is the exception. 

Comprised of Jackie Chambers, Kim McAuliffe, Denise Dufort and Tracey Lamb, the London-based group, known for hit tracks like “Demolition Boys” and “Emergency,” formed in 1978. Forty-six years later, these ladies are still going strong. In fact, the NWOBHM (new wave of British heavy metal) legends make up the longest-tenured all-women rock band in history. 

Recently, Girlschool announced that it’s embarking on its final North American tour, which includes a stop at Broken Goblet Brewing, 2500 State Road in Bensalem, on March 27, with Lillian Axe and Alcatrazz also on the bill. 

Ahead of the show, The Times caught up with Chambers to discuss the decision behind this last U.S. tour, the unbreakable camaraderie that she and her bandmates share, and what it means to still be doing what she loves at almost 60 years old.

According to Chambers, the reason why Girlschool won’t be heading to the states for long stretches anymore is simple.

“It’s just getting too expensive,” Chambers admitted. “We can’t afford it. The visas were thousands of dollars just to get us there, and that’s before booking hotels, ground transport, crew, petrol, food. We’re definitely not gonna make any money. We might even lose money.”

Plus, the women of Girlschool are getting older. Chambers is on the brink of turning 60, and the rest of the band is already there. Since it’s usually five or six years between each U.S. run, Chambers doesn’t envision them enduring a grueling travel schedule at almost 70. 

However, Chambers stressed, this is not the end of Girlschool. After the North American tour, which is hitting the east coast now and west coast this summer, the band will continue performing overseas and isn’t opposed to returning to the U.S. for a one-off gig. 

“A lot of people, when they saw that on Facebook, they started panicking,” said Chambers. “They’re like, ‘Oh, you’re quitting! Is this it?’ No, no, no, just America. It’s too expensive. It’s priced everybody out.”  

Being on the road, especially in a foreign country, can certainly get tiresome … especially if you’re among bad company. However, Chambers proudly shared that Girlschool is like a sisterhood. This means that, even while traveling together for countless hours per day, they still enjoy being around each other. 

“It’s all good fun. We’re all really good friends, which is always helpful in a band, especially with women,” she said. “We’ve always got something to talk about, which seems incredible to other bands. It’s like, ‘What have you still got to say? You talk all day long!’ We even talk to each other on stage.” 

Their friendship — and true passion for the music — is what has kept Girlschool together for the past 46 years. 

“It’s all about being friends and just enjoying what you do,” said Chambers. “If you don’t enjoy it, you’re never gonna stay together. If you’re going through the motions, it shows on stage. If you’re not enjoying it, it shows on stage. So we definitely do still enjoy it, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it.”

Girlschool, founded by McAuliffe and Enid Williams, has undergone a few lineup changes over the years. After original lead guitarist Kelly Johnson was diagnosed with cancer, she left the band and was replaced by Chambers in 1999. Johnson lost her battle in 2007. Then, in 2019, Girlschool parted ways with bassist Williams and brought back Lamb, a former member. Currently, McAuliffe and Dufort are the only Girlschool originals.

Despite their varying tenures, nobody can believe that the band has seen such lasting success.  

“It’s a strange one, isn’t it? I mean, 25 years to me is, it’s just gone really quickly,” said Chambers. “And I asked Kim and Denise, because they’re the only two who have been in right from the beginning, and they’re like, ‘Forty-five years has just gone like that really.’ And we never split up either, so it’s literally 46 years.” 

Throughout Girlschool’s history, it has released numerous studio albums (including 2023’s WTFortyFive), performed at major rock and metal festivals, and toured all over the world. Still, one of its biggest achievements is serving as inspiration to other women who want to play rock music. 

“Everytime we do a gig, a girl comes up to us and says, ‘Because of you, I picked up guitar,’ or, ‘Because of you, I picked up drums,’ which is always wonderful to hear,” Chambers said. 

Plus, in addition to longtime fans, the next generation of Girlschool listeners are showing up for concerts, many of whom were introduced to the band by their mom. 

“It’s just amazing to hear that, and it’s still relevant today. We’re still relevant apparently. This is a good thing!,” said Chambers. “And having a new album out that’s done quite well is great because new people are coming to see us now.” 

At Broken Goblet, attendees will hear music spanning Girlschool’s entire career, including numerous fan-favorites from the 1981 album Hit and Run and a handful of tracks from last year’s release that celebrated the 45-year milestone. While it’s impossible to please everyone, Chambers believes the setlist they came up with is the perfect blend of classic and fresh. 

Post-North American tour, Chambers doesn’t have plans to slow down anytime soon. In addition to performing at festivals with Girlschool, she also has dates booked for her other rock band Syteria. 

“I’m fortunate enough to still be playing at my age, so I’m making the most of it,” she said. “I enjoy it still. I think if I stopped enjoying it, I would quit. But I still love it. So I’m out there playing as much as possible.”

Visit brokengoblet.com/event-details/girlschool-with-lillian-axe-alcatrazz for tickets and more information. 

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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