They found little mainstream success (and never really sought any), but they continue to inspire a devoted cult following and have recorded numerous critically acclaimed albums, released in small editions by labels like Placebo, Majora, Eclipse Records, Amarillo Records, and their own Abduction imprint. Critic Steve Leggett writes, „Throughout its history SCG has remained a challenging, unpredictable, and eclectic musical unit, operating outside the commercially driven aspirations of the mainstream recording industry, and the group has become somewhat of a beacon to independent musicians and artists everywhere.“ Writing in the Village Voice, Ted Hendrickson argues, „They’ve never made any sense, conventionally speaking, and that’s what makes them fun.“
Originating from the Arizona punk rock scene which included Meat Puppets, JFA and the The Feederz, Sun City Girls quickly began to incorporate lengthy improvisations, beat poetry, surf music, jazz, tape music, and elements of South Asian, South American, Middle Eastern and African musics. SCG performances were often wildly unpredictable, sometimes verging on performance art, with elaborate costumes, kabuki-inspired makeup, and the creation of a festive, ritualistic atmospshere with audience participation. The group’s interest in mysticism, paranormal topics (especially UFOs), religious cults and other esoterica is often manifested in their song titles, lyrics and album art.
Until the late 1980s, most of the band’s releases were issued on audio cassettes which gained legendary status among cassette culture enthusiasts. But a shift to the LP format had already begun with seminal records such as Sun City Girls (1984), Grotto of Miracles (1986), Torch of the Mystics (1990), Dawn of the Devi (1991), Bright Surroundings, Dark Beginnings (1993), and Kaliflower (1994). Dante’s Disneyland Inferno and 330,003 Crossdressers from Beyond the Rig Veda, both double-CDs released in 1996, were perhaps the pinnacle of the band’s aesthetic. Frequent SCG collaborators in recent years have included violinist Eyvind Kang and sound engineer Scott Colburn.
The Sun City Girls band remaining members currently reside in Seattle, Washington. Alan Bishop heads the label Sublime Frequencies and performs and releases records under the names Alvarius B and Uncle Jim. In the early 1980s, he was in the shortlived band Paris 1942 with Maureen Tucker from the Velvet Underground. In 2005, he edited a compilation titled Crime and Dissonance of Ennio Morricone’s late 1960s and early 1970s soundtrack work. Rick Bishop performs as a solo guitarist under the name Sir Richard Bishop. Charles Gocher released a solo CD called Pint-Sized Spartacus in 1997, and performed with a number of groups, including the Master Musicians of Bukkake, Tripod, and the New Session People.
Gocher died after a long battle with cancer on February 19, 2007. After his death, Alan and Rick announced that they would no longer perform or record music using the Sun City Girls name. However, they do plan to release existing archival Sun City Girls recordings as time permits.
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