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November 10, 2018

Rare Photographs of Sugar Baby Doll, a Short-Lived Rock Band Formed by Courtney Love and Kat Bjelland

In the 1980s, a band called Sugar Babydoll was formed by Courtney Love and Kat Bjelland, two of grunge’s greatest women in rock.

Courtney Love had originally come up with the name and idea for the band in the early 1980s when she was a teenager in Portland, but aborted the project and moved to San Francisco in 1982 where she had a brief stint as a singer for Faith No More. Upon returning to Portland in 1983, Love met Kat Bjelland at the Satyricon nightclub. Both Love and Bjelland were frequent visitors to the rock club, known in the 1980s as a hub for punk rock shows and rock musicians.

According to Bjelland, after the two had met, Love, who was looking to form an all-female rock group, “fell to her knees” and begged “please, please be my guitarist.” In June 1985, Bjelland and Love were joined by Suzanne Ramsey and bassist Jennifer Finch in San Francisco, and the group went by the name Sugar Babydoll, a variation on a prior idea, Sugar Babylon.

Bjelland recalled her time in the band in a 1994 interview, commenting: “I’d quit the Venarays by this time and me and Courtney were trying to get a band together. We needed a bass player, so when we found Jennifer we formed Sugar Babydoll, Sugar Babylon, Sugar Bunny Farm or whatever it was called. We went through a few names, and we only played a couple of shows. It was the smallest thing I’ve ever done musically.”

After the departure of bassist Finch, Bjelland and Love recruited Janis Tanaka to play bass, and through Tanaka found a drummer/pianist, Deidre Schletter. The band soon began rehearsing in friends’ bedrooms, and played numerous covers and some originals during their jam sessions. During this time, the group went by the name Pagan Babies.

Below are some rare and early photographs of the band.



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