L7 (pronounced /ɛl ˈsɛvən/) was an American rock band from Los Angeles, that was active from 1985 to 2000. Due to their sound and image, they are often associated with the grunge movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
L7 was formed by Rene' Lucas on bass guitar, Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner on shared electric guitar and shared vocals. A year previous, Gardner had performed backing vocals on the Black Flag song "Slip It In". The punk rock duo were soon joined by Jennifer Finch on bass guitar replacing Rene' Lucas who left the band to raise a family and Roy Koutsky on drums. Koutsky left shortly after and Demetra Plakas ("Dee" for short) became their permanent drummer.
The band's name derives from a 1950s slang phrase meaning "square", but is often mistaken for a reference to the sex position, "69". The slang phrase "L7" can be heard in the Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs song "Wooly Bully" ("Let's not be L7, come and learn to dance..."), in the Rick James song "Bustin' Out" ("L7- just a little too damn straight..."), and in the Paul McCartney song "C Moon" ("I could be L7 and I'll never get to heaven if I fill my head with glue").
In 1991, the band formed Rock for Choice, a Pro-Choice women's rights group which was supported by other prominent bands of that era, including Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Rage Against the Machine. Rock for Choice still exists and organizes concerts today.
Their 1992 third album Bricks Are Heavy, produced by Butch Vig, was featured in Rolling Stone's May 1999 list of 'Essential recordings of the 1990s', and is widely considered their classic.
L7's fourth album, Hungry for Stink, was released in July 1994 during their Lollapalooza tour, where they shared the stage with The Smashing Pumpkins and The Breeders, among others.
Finch left the band during the recording of their next album, so Sparks and Greta Brinkman played bass on their fifth album The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum, after which Gail Greenwood, (formerly of the band Belly) became the bassist.
The band's most recent album, Slap-Happy, was released in 1999 and did not chart on either side of the Atlantic. To promote the record, on July 17, 1999, a plane flew over the crowd at the Lilith Fair at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, with a banner that read, "Bored? Tired? Try L7." The following day, a second airplane flew over the crowd at the Warped Tour at the Stone Pony lot in Asbury Park, New Jersey. This banner declared, "Warped needs more beaver...love, L7." Greenwood later left the band and was replaced by Janis Tanaka, formerly of the San Francisco band, Stone Fox. Tanaka would later go on to play bass for the singer Pink, while Greenwood would later play with the singer Bif Naked.
However, by 2001 the band was no longer touring. According to the band's website, "L7 are on an indefinite hiatus. We know that's vague, but that's just the way it is. The future of the band is a bit up in the air at the moment." L7 appears to be defunct for all practical purposes, as Sparks is currently pursuing her own solo career, along with Plakas, and two other guitarists in the band Stella Sparks and The Stellar Moments. Finch is working in a punk rock group, The Shocker.
The band made an appearance in the 1993 film Point of No Return starring Bridget Fonda, and an appearance in 1994's John Waters film Serial Mom under the name "Camel Lips", a reference to the visual imprint of a woman's vulva in the crotch of tight jeans, also known as a cameltoe. Their songs have also been featured on at least twenty compilation albums throughout their career; most notably the song "Shitlist" appeared on the soundtracks of the movies Natural Born Killers and Pet Sematary II. The Prodigy covered the Hungry for Stink track "Fuel My Fire" on their 1997 album "Fat of the Land". "Shirley" appears on the "Foxfire" soundtrack. "Shove" appears on the soundrack of the movie Tank Girl, and "Pretend We're Dead" appears on the soundtrack of the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and can be heard on an in-game radio station and on the music video game Rock Band 2. The band was also the subject of a concert film made by former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and a rockumentary Not Bad for a Girl. Finch and Plakas performed several times with hide, in 1994.
The Band, with Finch on bass, appeared in the 1999 cult video Decoupage: Return of the Goddess, performing a re-make of the Sonny and Cher song Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) with actress Karen Black, and being interviewed individually by Decoupage hostess Summer Caprice.
The band gained a certain amount of notoriety for their performance at the 1992 Reading Festival, when lead vocalist Sparks removed her used tampon on-stage and threw it into the crowd yelling "Eat my used tampon, fuckers!" in protest against the mud being thrown by the crowd. This has been referred to as one of the "most unsanitary pieces of rock memorabilia".
• Rene' Lucas – electric bass, writer (founding member)
• Donita Sparks – guitar, vocals (founding member)
• Suzi Gardner – guitar, vocals (founding member)
• Janis Tanaka – bass (2000)
• Demetra Plakas – drums, vocals (1988–2000)
• Jennifer Finch – bass, vocals (1987–1996)
• Gail Greenwood – bass, vocals (1996–1999)
• Roy Koutsky – drums (1987–1988)