Rare footage of Fanny playing live is vivid proof of what a special band they were

Fanny on The Midnight Special
(Image credit: The Midnight Special)

Pioneering rockers Fanny are the subject of the latest video to appear on The Midnight Special's YouTube channel. 

The quartet's performance of their cover of Randy Newman's Last Night I Had A Dream – the opening track of their 1973 album Mother's Pride – was originally broadcast on April 13 of that year, when the band's original lineup of Jean Millington (bass, vocals), sister June Millington (guitar, vocals), Nickey Barclay (keyboards, vocals) and drummer Alice de Buhr joined a bill that also featured Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, Billy Preston, Steely Dan and Taj Mahal.  

“Women who could rock hard were a rarity in those days,” bassist Jean Millington told Classic Rock. “Most of the girl bands were novelty acts. When we were sixteen, seventeen years old and playing up in Reno, there was a band called Eight Of A Kind – four females who performed topless, you know what I mean? 

"That’s what we were up against. They were radically different times. We had to prove that we were serious and that we could really play our instruments."

The talent of Barclay, who sings the lead vocal on I Had A Dream, had already been recognised by Joe Cocker, who took her on the infamous Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour in 1970. She also played on Barbra Streisand's classic Stoney End in 1971 (the entire band appeared on the follow-up, Barbra Joan Streisand), while her song Solid Gold was covered by Keith Moon on his ill-advised solo album Two Sides Of The Moon.

In 2016, the Millington sisters reunited onstage at show in Massachusetts, joined by former drummer Brie Darling, and in 2018 released an album as Fanny Walked The Earth, named partly in tribute to their trail-blazing, and partly to their status as rock dinosaurs. And in May of this year, billed as Fanny & Friends, they played at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in San Francisco, CA. A documentary, The Right To Rock, was released in 2021. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 37 years in music industry, online for 24. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.