Comprised of high schoolers in the Minnesota small town Fulda, 1960s garage rock group the Continental Co-ets may have been the first all-girl rock and roll group in the country — or at least in the Upper Midwest.
Claims to fame aside, the teenagers’ tenaciousness deserves recognition. With a DIY punk spirit, the girls started from scratch, practicing their instruments as freshmen in 1963. By the time they graduated and parted ways in 1967, they had toured Canada and the Upper Midwest.
“Those kids practiced until their fingers were just raw,” Dave Edwards, Fulda High School’s music teacher at the time, told Minnesota Public Radio in 2001. “That was the kind of drive and passion they had for playing.”
The band consisted of Carol Goins on lead guitar, Carolyn Behr on rhythm guitar, bassist Nancy Hofmann, drummer Vicki Steinman and and Mary Jo Hofmann on keyboard. Their dedication scored them a case of Orange Crush pop as a first place prize for a talent show, as well as one commercially released single, “I Don’t Love You No More.”
Though there were other girl bands at the time, the Continental Co-ets stood out because they played their own instruments, Carolyn Behr told MPR.
A testament to the perceived novelty of all-girl bands, a rock group called The Vultures asked the band to perform with them in a “Battle of the Sexes” themed concert. In preparation for the show, the Co-ets decided to add vocals to their music, as they had previously only played instrumental music, according to Murray County News.
After a successful turnout, the bands decided to turn the show into a series. As Mark Steil pointed out, all of the baby boomers were now teenagers (the average age in the band’s county was 25), which added to their potential audience. Also, the Beatles’ popularity helped people get interested in other rock and roll bands.
The group recorded a few songs for a record label in Iowa, and in 2002, they were inducted into Iowa’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Below, you can hear from that vinyl, which was re-issued by Get Hip in 1994.
Jackie Renzetti is a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is a projects editor at the Minnesota Daily and hosts Radio K’s “Off the Record.”