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Singer and cult heroine Cath Carroll was born August 25, 1960 in Avon, England; raised primarily in Manchester, she bore witness to early performances of bands including Warsaw (later rechristened Joy Division) and the Fall, and ran in some of the same social circles as a then-unknown Stephen Morrissey. With friend Liz Naylor, Carroll played in the band the Gay Animals, and also published the famously vitriolic fanzine City Fun. Among the 'zine's most vocal supporters was Factory Records, and according to legend, she and Naylor were granted the very first memberships to Factory's famed nightclub the Haçienda.
Carroll relocated to London in 1984, where she began writing for the weekly New Musical Express, later editing their "T-Zers" gossip column; she also fronted the indie band Miaow, best remembered for their classic 1986 Factory single "When It All Comes Down" as well as their appearance on NME's seminal C-86 collection. She relocated to Chicago in 1990 to be with her future husband, ex-Big Black bassist Santiago Durango, and that same year issued her debut solo EP, Beast; the full-length England Made Me followed a year later, launching the single "Moves Like You."
In 1993, the American indie band Unrest issued their final album, Perfect Teeth; not only did the album feature a Robert Mapplethorpe portrait of Carroll, but the first single was also called "Cath Carroll," complete with lyrical references to Durango, Naylor, and even her NME pseudonym Myrna Minkoff. Although Unrest frontman and Teen Beat Records honcho Mark Robinson invited her to open for one of the band's Chicago live dates, she declined; Robinson's persistence ultimately led Carroll to sign with Teen Beat, however, and in 1994 she made her label debut with "My Cold Heart." The full-length, True Crime Motel, followed a year later.