Photo by Steven Depolo
If there has ever been a go-to rock star for a good, click-baiting soundbite it’s Noel Gallagher. The former Oasis kingpin is interviewed more often than not for to get him to pronounce some sensational comment, often dismissing another musician who’s in the news. Of course, there is no biggest star in music right now than Adele, whose latest album 25 gives her bragging rights even over Gallagher, who knows a thing or two about selling millions (and bragging about it too).
In an interview with UK tabloid The Telegraph, the elder Gallagher brother was asked what he thought about Adele and her magical selling powers. As expected, he took the bait, saying, “If someone wants to know what I think of Adele, I’ll fucking tell them… I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. I don’t like her music. I think it’s music for fucking grannies.”
Obviously Gallagher is referring to the stereotypical fucking grannies, the blue-haired oldies who rely on their Lifecall medical alarms and pass the time knitting doilies. And being the “cool millennial Celine Dion” there is no denying that Adele has a gigantic reach with the older generations. But it sure is fun trying to prove a big gob like Noel Gallagher wrong, so here are some hardcore grannies who you probably wouldn’t catch dead listening to Adele (note: some are already deceased, but, y’know, if they were still alive…)
Arguably the most intimidating and iconic supermodel of her generation, the Queen of Gay Discos is yes, also a fucking granny. A quintuple threat (model, lyricist, singer, actor, dancer), Grace Jones is best known for her towering presence, killer stare, and muscular physique. But she might be the only granny in history to ever kick ass alongside Conan the Destroyer, do the deed with 007 and suck the blood of some college dudes on the big screen.
Most Hardcore Fact: She once struck talk show host Russell Hart because she felt she was being disrespected. And because she was on “bad coke” and “covered in pigeon shit” at the time.
Sadly passing away back in 2007, Alice Coltrane was not only an influential musician in both free jazz and New Age, but also a grandmother of five. In fact, after her late husband, the legendary John Coltrane passed away in 1967, she made raising her children her priority. But that didn’t stop her from leading bands and recording with Pharoah Sanders, Charlie Haden and Joe Henderson over her 44-year career. After studying prayer and meditation with Swami Satchidananda in India, she changed her name to Turiyasangitananda and opened up an ashram.
Most Hardcore Fact: Doom metal behemoths Sunn O))) dedicated a song to Coltrane called “Alice” on their 2009 album, Monoliths & Dimensions.
Yes, the Godmother of Punk is also the grandmother to her son Jackson’s child. Patti Smith might just be the coolest gran imaginable, with her celebrated career as punk’s most revered poet and a figure whose style, wide-ranging body of work and poise has remained unrivalled over the past 40 years. Before she found fame, she discovered her artistry while living with controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe—an experience that became the subject for her 2010 memoir, Just Kids.
Most Hardcore Fact: The grandfather of Smith’s grandson would have been Fred “Sonic” Smith, the late guitarist of proto-punk rabble rousers, MC5.
Millie Jackson’s 1989 live album, Back to the Shit!, featured the soul singer on the john taking a shit, and a track called “Muffle That Fart,” where she dispenses advice to women on how to stifle flatulence in front of a man. Need I say more?
Most Hardcore Fact: It doesn’t get more hardcore than that.
She’s Neneh Cherry to everyone in the world but one person: to her daughter’s son Flynn, she’s “Nana” Cherry. Raised the stepdaughter of the late influential jazz trumpeter Don Cherry (and sister to one Eagle Eye Cherry), Neneh Cherry taught us all how to hang in a “Buffalo Stance” in 1989, and since then has collaborated with Michael Stipe, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, Pulp, Gorillaz, fellow Swede Robyn and Four Tet. Not bad for a fucking granny.
Most Hardcore Fact: Cherry recorded an album with Norwegian jazz punks the Thing featuring covers of songs by Suicide, the Stooges, Madvillain and Ornette Coleman.
She might have the right granny shade of grey as a hair colour, but country maven Emmylou Harris has hardly been signing lullabies for the last 46 years. In that time, she was mentored by the one and only grievous angel himself, Gram Parsons, appeared in The Last Waltz, and became the Godmother of Alt-Country with the 1996 stone cold classic, Wrecking Ball.
Most Hardcore Fact: Harris was charged with a hit-and-run in 2012, after she crashed her rental car into another vehicle, then fled the scene. I doubt she was listening to Adele’s 21 at the time.
Obviously when Noel Gallagher made that comment, he had forgotten all about Yoko Ono, because he’s based his whole career on the music of her late husband, John Lennon. Considering all that she’s done—with and without Lennon—one can argue that no 82-year-old has ever been as hardcore as Yoko Ono. From her continuous journey to create and perform avant-garde music and visual art, to her undying passion for activism, to her ability to slay in hotpants, Ono is an innovator in basically every thing she does. Oh, and she allegedly broke up the biggest band in the history of music.
Most Hardcore Fact: On her 82nd birthday, Ono released two 10” vinyl singles featuring collaborations with transgender singer Antony Hegarty (the artist now known as ANOHNI) and skronk sax composer John Zorn.
The Grindmother, the 67-year-old gran who wrote and recorded a grindcore track called “Any Cost,” which called out Canada’s shamed former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.
Viva Hamnell, the 82-year-old subject of the 2014 documentary, Viva Punk Rebel. 82., who once fronted the ’70s punk band the Bricks, and never gave up her punk spirit despite having great-grankids.
Cam Lindsay is a writer living in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter.