Film News and Review: Fanny: The Right to Rock Documentary available on PBS

If you are a person of a certain age that was rocking out in the 60s and 70s, there is a likely chance you may already be informed about and a fan of the all-female musical group from California, Fanny. The young women were self-taught musicians, accomplished rock instrumentalists, and singers who reached a level of success previously unheard of for a rock band composed solely of women. They are the first all-female rock act to record an album for a major record label (Warner/ Reprise, 1970) and rise to real prominence in the US and Europe. The four original members of Fanny were June Millington (guitar, vocals), Jean Millington (bass, vocals), Alice de Buhr (drums, vocals), and Nickey Barclay (keyboards, vocals). If the musical group does not ring any bells, it is time to view the documentary written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Bobbi Jo Hart, Fanny: The Right to Rock. Fanny’s groundbreaking impact in music was largely ignored until bandmates reunited 50 years later with a new rock record deal. I am so grateful to learn about this group now. It is a blast from the past to see the archival photos and articles about them and where they are now – continuing to rock on – after fighting early barriers of race, gender, and sexuality in the music industry, and now ageism. These incredible women are ready to claim their place in music and history.

Dubbed the “female Beatles” and discovered by legendary producer Richard Perry, Fanny was co-founded by two Filipino American sisters, June Millington and Jean Millington, in Sacramento and went on to conquer the rock world, performing at the legendary Whisky A-Go-Go night club on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, thus establishing their notoriety.

In the December 1999 Millennial issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, David Bowie hailed Fanny: “One of the most important female bands in American rock has been buried without a trace: Fanny. They were one of the finest rock bands of their time. They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, Revivify Fanny. And I will feel that my work is done.”

The audience will see Fanny’s journey from humble beginnings to meteoric rise as an all-female rock band in a male-dominated industry. It delves into their challenges as women and Asian Americans in the music scene and their incredible influence on generations of female musicians. The film has excellent archival footage of the band’s rocking past intercut, with its next chapter releasing a new LP. The film contains a video of Fabi Reyna (She Shreds magazine publisher) speaking to this.

The film features interviews with original band members (June Millington, Jean Millington, Alice de Buhr, Brie Darling, Patti Quatro) and music icons, including Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Bonnie Raitt, The Go-Go’s Kathy Valentine, Todd Rundgren, The Runaways’ Cherie Currie, Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, The B-52s’ Kate Pierson, Charles Neville and David Bowie guitarist and bassist Earl Slick and Gail Ann Dorsey.

Fanny toured tirelessly for up to nine months every year. Releasing five critically acclaimed albums from 1970 to 1975, Fanny had a string of hit singles and played on the studio recordings of some legendary artists, including Barbra Streisand. In addition to their many live gigs, they performed on top music and variety television shows of the time, including the BBC’s The Old Grey Whistle Test, the Sonny and Cher Show, American Bandstand, and The Beat Club, Germany’s most famous band program.

The film premiered at the 2021 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, where it was named one of five winners of the Rogers Audience Award. It was subsequently screened at the 2021 Inside Out Film and Video Festival, where it won the award for Best Canadian Film. Next, it screened at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAMFest) on May 19, and the band had an exceptional performance in San Francisco on May 20. Recently, the film screened at LA’s Grammy Museum on May 16, and the Fanny bandmates reunited on Stage for a 50th Anniversary Concert at the Famed Whisky A-Go-Go Nightclub on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles on May 17.

Fanny: The Right To Rock premiered on PBS in May during Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, May 22, and on the Austin PBS station, it will be available May 24 at 6:30 pm. For additional information, visit and view the Weekly Schedule | Austin PBS WORLD. More information about PBS is available at

96 Minutes | Documentary | Music | LGBTQ | English
Source: PBS, AARP

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