MUSIC HISTORY

Godmother of Grunge Tina Bell Set the Stage for ’90s Rock with Bam Bam

The overlooked proto-grunge band and their distinguishable frontwoman

Alexander Razin
Published in
5 min readApr 28, 2023

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Image Credit: Buttocks Productions

Women of color have had a tough break in rock. If they’re a woman of color, you must be a hip-hop, soul, or R&B artist. There are no other options.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe invented rock and roll, yet her male contemporaries took charge. Rosetta Tharpe had her struggles, given she was a Black woman in the 1940s. So, it isn’t taboo that an African American woman forty years later will succeed in rock.

It isn’t the case.

In the early ’80s, a four-piece out of Seattle, Washington, played music categorized as Grunge. Not only did they have an unheard-of sound, but they also had a powerful yet elegant frontwoman.

Said woman was Tina Bell: a Seattle native who fronted Bam Bam. Alongside Bell were guitarist and husband Tommy Martin. Scotty “Buttocks” Ledgerwood joined them on bass and Matt Cameron on drums.

Matt Cameron became the drummer in Soundgarden and Pearl Jam when he quit Bam Bam. Tom Hendrickson replaced him and solidified the lineup thereupon.

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Alexander Razin
The Riff

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