Room 319

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Room 319

Ari was born in Munich, West Germany.  Both her parents were involved in the music industry: Her father, Frank Forster, was a German schlager singer who had some success in the 50s and 60s while her mother Nora was a friend of Jimi Hendrix and dated Chris Spedding for three years. Ari's maternal grandfather was the wealthy German newspaper proprietor Franz Karl Maier, owner of Der Tagesspiegel. Her godfathers were Austrian singer/composer Udo Jürgens and Jon Anderson, the singer of the group Yes.

Nora later married the Sex Pistols' lead singer, John Lydon, in 1979. Their home was known to be something of a punk domain, where Nora would take in poor musicians. The constant presence of punk music led to Ari experimenting with it herself, learning to play the guitar from The Clash's Joe Strummer.

In 1976, at the age of 14, Ari formed The Slits with drummer Palmolive. Within a short time, guitarist Viv Albertine joined the group and found herself deeply impressed by the young singer. "English was her second language," Albertine noted in an interview. "It was not easy for her and she had to fight to be taken seriously."She succeeded: "Ari was the most dynamic woman I have ever known," said Albertine. "The way she carried herself was a revolution."

By the late 1970s, The Slits were touring as the opening act for The Clash.Ari Up's love of reggae led The Slits into a "jungly" dub style. She was the most flamboyant member of the group, becoming known for her wild hair and odd stage outfits. She can be seen briefly in The Clash film Rude Boy, associating with the band backstage. Her 1977 performances with The Slits are featured in The Punk Rock Movie, a documentary release of various punk group club performances, principally at The Roxy.