Belly Biography

Based in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, Belly was the brainchild of the mercurial Tanya Donelly (14 July 1966, Newport, Rhode Island, USA; vocals/guitar). Donelly, along with half-sister Kristin Hersh, was a founding member of Throwing Muses. She was able to write the occasional song within that band, but inevitably felt constrained; when Hersh took time out to start a family, Donelly left amicably after recording The Real Ramona. She had already worked with the Breeders, a female punk pop supergroup featuring Kim Deal (Pixies) and Josephine Wiggs (Perfect Disaster). However, this too was primarily someone else’s band and Donelly finally moved on to Belly. They originally formed in December 1991 with brothers Thomas (b. 20 May 1966, USA; lead guitar) and Chris Gorman (b. Christopher Toll Gorman, 29 August 1967, USA; drums) and bass player Fred Abong (ex-Throwing Muses). He was replaced by Leslie Langston (ex-Throwing Muses), who in turn was replaced by Gail Greenwood (b. 3 October 1960, USA), who had had stints with the all-female band the Dames and hardcore outfit Boneyard. She also worked as a freelance illustrator, designing Aerosmith’s fan club Christmas cards.

Belly debuted with the EPs Slow Dust and then Gepetto, which preceded the album Star. Recorded in Nashville, Star featured a confident Donelly welding perverse, abusive and uplifting lyrics to a smothering mesh of guitar and sweet vocals. In its wake, the Feed The Tree EP gave them unlikely daytime airplay and a first chart hit, before the album soared to number 2 in the UK charts. Included on it was a version of ‘Trust In Me’ (from The Jungle Book), a song that summed up the band’s appeal: a clash of the nice and the nasty. King was recorded at the end of 1994 in Nassau, Bahamas, with producer Glyn Johns, and featured writing contributions from Tom Gorman and Greenwood for the first time. For Donelly’s part, the lyrics switched to a first person focus, though when pressed for a summary she described the album as ‘just pop rock like everything else’. The band went belly up in late 1995. Donelly embarked on a solo career, while Greenwood joined L7.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.