KLYMAXX BIO

Klymaxx

 

Life And Career:

 

 In 1979, Bernadette Cooper formed Klymaxx. She narrowed the band down to the original six girls who became the famous band. Klymaxx's uniqueness, due to the all-girl band's ability to play instruments, and a  groundbreaking sound influenced by Cooper's comedic, women power theme.

 

Klymaxx's original members are (vocalist, drummer) Bernadette Cooper, (vocalist) Lorena Porter (Stewart), (guitarist) Cheryl Cooley, (keyboardists) Lynn Malsby, (keyboardists) Robbin Grider and Bassist/ vocalist, Joyce Irby, was added later after the band signed to Solar records.

 

Inspired by the past generation of Mack divas (Lynn Collins, LaBelle, Brides of Funkenstein, and Chaka Khan) as well as Prince’s computer blue funk, Klymaxx was on a mission to define their own sound. 

 

“The forming of Klymaxx felt more like it was an out of body experience. It was guided by a force that I can’t explain,” Cooper says. “I remember the struggles and the sacrifice, but I also remember the camaraderie of the original five girls focusing on one goal. We sent out a few demos and immediately came to the attention of SOLAR (Sound of Los Angeles Records) through an executive named Margaret Nash; she urged her boss Dick Griffey to check us out. He came to our rehearsal, watched us play and immediately offered us a record deal.

 

On the West Coast during the 1980s, SOLAR represented the new music of young Black America. Sometimes called “the new Motown,” the label was owned and operated by Dick Griffey. As the home of chart-topping artists Shalamar, Midnight Star, Bobby Womack, Lakeside, the Whispers, Carrie Lucas and The Deele, they were thriving in a time when hip-hop was creeping up from the underground

 

With Griffey’s empire initially located in West Hollywood and later moved to 1635 N. Cahuenga in a building SOLAR owned; a recording studio on the premises was designed for his artist to record. A complicated man, Griffey was a mentor to both Babyface and Death Row founder Suge Knight. Although Griffey was seen as a gangster by some, to Cooper, he was always a gentleman. “Dick was a friend and a wonderful man,"  she says. “He took a girl from Compton, and, not only taught me the music business but also, introduced me to fine dining and instructed me on vast wines. I owe him my career.  It was destiny. I believe that if Dick hadn’t discovered the band, I wouldn’t be pursuing my dreams.”

 

After releasing their underwhelming debut, Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman, in 1981, which was controlled and conceptualized by their male counterparts, Klymaxx did not graduate until they discovered their own sound, style, and swag.

It wasn’t until their new wave, electro third album Meeting in the Ladies Room (1984) that they became a femme force in the industry With the catchy “The Men All Pause,” “Meeting in the Ladies Room” and their most successful single. 

the mushy ballad “I Miss You,”

 

Klymaxx became more self-contained, writing tracks and directing the sessions (“The Men All Pause” was co-produced by Steve Shockley, Bernadette Cooper and Joyce “Fenderella” Irby. “Joyce gave me the track, and I sat on the floor and wrote the lyrics in an hour. We began writing for ourselves because we were tired of men writing us subservient lyrics."  Cooper said, “We complained to Mr. Griffy, and he said, ‘Fine, make your own album.’ With those words, Klymaxx became a real band. We  were emancipated,  freedom is a beautiful thing.” As seen in “The Men All Pause” video, with Cooper clad in a fuzzy leopard-skinned top, it wasn’t uncommon for her to step from behind her drums to sing and talk smack on the mic.

 

The songs that KLYMAXX popularized are, "The Men All Pause", "Meeting In The Ladies Room,"I Miss You," "Divas Need Love Too," "Sexy," "Man Size Love," "I'd Still Say Yes," "Wild Girls" and Coopers solo, "I Look Good." which was later covered by Bette Midler.

 

At the same time, Bernadette started making creative strides as a songwriter and Klymaxx's producer.  The emerging producer's Jimmy and Terry who produced their earlier music gravitated towards her style and songs.  Griffey, a former drummer himself, had a knack for grooming producers, including Leon Sylvers III, Reggie and Vincent Calloway, LA and Babyface and Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam. Klymaxx was the first band Jam, and Lewis recorded back in 1982 after leaving 'Prince'  In the studio, Cooper closely observed the duo at work. “I was completely inspired by them and their methods and approach to music,” she says. “I watched, listened and  learned.”

 

While women are often excluded from the production process, Griffey took a chance. “He instinctively recognized my raw talent,” Cooper says. “There aren’t many men in this industry who respect the vision of a woman, but Dick wasn’t afraid.”

Cooper’s sound became a mixture of Minneapolis styled synthesizers, George Clinton’s cosmic slop, James Brown eternal funk and the majestic pop of Quincy Jones, that was distinctively her own.

 

In 1987, due to the band's internal conflicts, Cooper dismissed herself to pursue outside projects. "With all great bands, people outgrow situations," Cooper said of the break-up. "It's plain and simple in the beginning we were all equal in poverty; hungry, reaching for the same goal, going forward towards that light together. However, as time [went] on - people wanted to have babies, get married, and envy on steroids was running rampant, especially when one or two members became the focus. Everybody began doing their own thing." She continued. "Our vision, as a unit, simply changed. I was getting a lot of spotlight because of my fearlessness and outrageousness. If you didn't notice me, I was going to make sure you did; this is the business of show. I wanted to be remarkable, the band wanted me to blend in which was very difficult for me to do. My personal mission is not to blend in, but to be innovative."

 

 

Touring:

 {VH1 Bands Reunited]

2005. VH1 Bands Reunited, Reunited Klymaxx for the popular TV show. Five members reunited, Robbin Grider could not be located. Cheryl Cooley did not participate in the performance due to friction between her and the other band mates for unsuccessfully trying to trademark the name without the members knowing and forming her own version of Klymaxx without permission. After reuniting and performing on television, original members Bernadette Cooper, Joyce Irby and Lorena Stewart decided to tour. There were now two versions of Klymaxx performing: One led by Cooley and her band of unknowns, while the original members toured together under the banner,  Klymaxx featuring Bernadette Cooper 'Real Divas Never Die tour.

 

Unsung (BET)

2009, Unsung premiered on the TV One cable network The documentary Klymaxx: chronicling the story of the group's genesis and rise to fame. This time, all six members of the classic lineup, including Grider, appeared. Cooper began touring with the band again. 

 

Two years after the show Cooper created another concept. She began to put her plan in motion.

Bernadette decided to put into action a long time dream of hers, to embark on a new journey, a one-woman show with minimal instrumentation. Klymaxx Presents Bernadette Cooper Diva & A Turntable.

 

Trademark Decision (Google)

2012, "It all began while we are on hiatus, Cooper say's, One of the members of the group continued to tour with the band’s name, and we asked her to stop.

The KLYMAXX Trademark issue was settled. The court decided that the name can be used by any original member, however, to not mislead the public, the member's name must be featured. The record is in evidence regarding which, if any, of the parties, has or had the right to control the parties’ band(s) or any band’s use of the KLYMAXX mark; There were procedural complications in the opposition too; at some point applicant Irby disappeared, and so while Cooley and Cooper agreed on abandoning the application, the application couldn’t be abandoned because Irby was on the application as joint owner and hadn’t formally agreed. (Demonstrating once again, should you have had any doubt, that joint ownership by individuals is a bad, bad idea.

The court decided that the name can be used by any original member, however, to not mislead the public, the member's name must be featured. 

Cooper states, that during the trademark settlement, "Cooley and I corresponded on this. It's not pretty, however, very common now. I say, whichever version of Klymaxx is touring... Just go and support us. For me, It's the legacy, the music, my vision and the love of performing that is being kept alive. Collectively, we should be honored."

 

 

KLYMAXX Feat, Bernadette Cooper, and Diva & A Turntable

2015-current, Getting back to her roots, the spontaneity of live music and reclaiming what she started in the beginning. Cooper is currently on tour with her revised version of Klymaxx Featuring, Bernadette Cooper (the band) and her DJ version "Diva & A Turntable: Under the revamped banner "Real Divas Never Die."  "The banner is powerful," Cooper says.  "It's letting women know that you are fly forever."