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Pussycat emerged during the 1970s thanks to the musical aspirations of the Kowalczyk sisters -- Tonny Willé, Betty Drastra, and Marianne Hensen. Growing up in Limburg, Netherlands, the girls first came to the public's attention as Zingende Zusjes (the Singing Sisters), with a well-received repertoire of German-language songs. Adding a female drummer to the brew, the group completely revamped its sound and changed its name, becoming the BG's from Holland -- a direct nod to the burgeoning big beat movement sweeping the country, and the youthful assumption that they would break out of their local scene. Recording came quickly to the nascent group. They cut a single, "Tell Alain," as Sweet Reaction for the Telstar label in 1973. With the sisters still the core members of the group, by early 1975 they had recruited drummer Theo Coumans, bassist Theo Wetzels, and guitarist John Theunissen, and updated their image once again -- now finally emerging as Pussycat. Signing to the EMI label, they recorded their first single, "Mississippi." The song became a massive seller for Pussycat, pushing them into the charts across Europe and England, where it reached number one in August 1976. The band pushed one further single, "Smile," into the U.K. charts that December before the group's star faded in that country. Elsewhere, however, Pussycat continued to soar with a stellar European career that ultimately, at its peak, spanned some ten years and included some 17 albums. By 1978 Hans Lutjens had replaced Theo Coumans on drums, as the band continued to release albums and tour, frequently traveling as far afield as South Africa. But as the 1980s rolled around, the sisters found it increasingly difficult to finance huge tours with so many musicians on the roster. So, replacing their backing band with taped music, Pussycat shifted their image one last time. They continued to play and record through the mid-'80s when they finally, and amicably, decided to call it quits in favor of pursuing their own careers. Tonny, whose own extracurricular activities had commenced back in 1973 with the single "For You" (under the alias Sally Lane), proved especially prolific, unleashing a string of albums, of which New Words to an Old Love Song saw her elected Best Female Country Singer of the Year by the Dutch magazine Country Gazette. With a stellar reissue market churning out compilations and Pussycat hits packages, it's clear the group may now be out of sight, but will never be out of mind.
© Amy Hanson /TiVo


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