The Shaggs

To excuse my belated post, “I set my clocks early ’cause I know I’m always late” (in honor of the Fall Out Boy concert that I attended last night). Keeping that same note, many famous bands might have never come to fruition had they listened to their number one naysayers: their parents. With the 1 in 10,000 chance of reaching stardom, many parents reasonably advise against pursuing a career in music. However, denying a dream before it has the potential to blossom seems to be part of the problem.

Perhaps if more parents were initially supportive, we would have more Beyoncés. I mean Kris Jenner, the definition behind the word “momager,” demonstrates the influence that one can have over their child’s career. Yet what happens when the support takes on a different form?

Cue The Shaggs.

“It doesn’t matter what you do
It doesn’t matter what you say
There will always be
One who wants things the opposite way”

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Years Active: 1968-1975

Nationality: American

Known For: Dot (lyricist, vocals, lead guitar), Betty (vocals, rhythm guitar), and Helen (drums)

Upon a palm reading performed on Austin Wiggin’s mother, three prophecies were foretold – two of which came true (Austin would marry a strawberry blonde, and he would have two sons after his mother’s death). The last promised that Austin’s daughters would comprise a popular music group, and these would be the words that determined the course of his daughters’ lives. Dorothy (Dot), Helen, and Betty were withdrawn from school and enrolled in music and vocal lessons. In 1968, the Shaggs began a weekly Saturday night gig at the Fremont, New Hampshire Town Hall. Yet, it is important to note that the sisters did not necessarily want to be musicians. In 1975, the year that their father passed, the Shaggs disbanded, and other than their performance in 1999, the sisters rarely speak of their band.

“Some kids do as they please
They don’t know what life really means
They don’t listen to what the ones who really care have to say.”

The legacy of the Shaggs is controversial to say the least. Depending on who you ask, they are either the best (perhaps even better than The Beatles) or the worst band of all time. Despite their father’s insistence, the Shaggs never achieved renowned success but they amassed a bit of a cult-like fan base. Other than Dot, it seems that the other sisters remain indifferent (verging more on opposed) towards their band.

It seems odd to include a band of reluctant sisters in a World-Crushing Women series, yet similar to the Shaggs’ legacy, they can be interpreted in many ways. Perhaps what is most striking about the Shaggs can be found in their lyricist, Dot. Despite, and because of, the simplicity of her words, the songs performed by the Shaggs ring of a genuine energy. The Shaggs illustrate that while being unpolished might not be for everyone, the demand for it certainly remains present.

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