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Fetchin' Bones

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Fetchin Bones missed the boat. Grungy years before grunge became an international phenomenon, Fetchin Bones wrote the blueprint for loud, metal-fueled, and female-led alternative groups like L7 and Hole to eventually reconstruct and take to the masses. Once college-radio all-stars, Fetchin Bones became forgotten left-of-the-dial pioneers, probably because their bluesy, American hard-rock sound polarized the mostly British tastes of campus programmers in the mid to late ‘80s. Featuring vocalist Hope Nicholls, guitarist Gary White, bassist Danna Pentes, and drummer Marc Mueller, Fetchin Bones' country-fried metallic bombast originated in North Carolina. The band debuted in 1985 with Cabin Flounder, which merely hinted at the melodic din the group would eventually create, highlighted by Nicholls' powerhouse voice, which recalled Janis Joplin in its dirty intensity. Under the guidance of producer Don Dixon, Fetchin Bones found an appreciative crowd on college radio. By 1987's Galaxy 500, White and Mueller were replaced by Errol Stewart and Clay Richardson, also marking a stylistic shift as Fetchin Bones drifted more towards straightforward rock with a funky edge; it was certainly accessible enough for FM radio, but the band would never find such commercial success. The group's last album, 1989's Monster, was released too early; if it had come out in 1992, this collection of raw, hook-driven heavy metal with a punk sensibility would've fit in somewhere between Nirvana and Jane's Addiction on the big alternative radio stations. The head-banging fury of "Love Crushing" certainly had as much guitar crunch and sonic boom than any of the flannel rock in the early ‘90s. Monster solidified their following on campus stations and had the glossy production and amp power for a mainstream breakthrough. Instead, the album was a bust, and the band broke up. Nicholls then formed Sugarsmack with her husband, guitarist Aaron Pitkin, releasing Top Loader in 1993 on an independent label before signing with Sire Records. Fetchin Bones' contributions to the alternative rock scene are largely neglected. They were a truly underrated group that didn't hit it big when they should've and quickly slipped from the radar once their best shot for platinum failed to strike the target. ~ Michael Sutton

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1985 in North Carolina

Years Active:

'80s, '90s