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L7 was formed by René Lucas on bass guitar, Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner on shared electric guitar and shared vocals in 1985. A year prior, 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 René Lucas who left the band to raise a family, and Roy Koutsky on drums. Koutsky left shortly after and Demetra "Dee" Plakas 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.
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 was their most successful release.
L7's fourth album, Hungry for Stink, was released in July 1994 and coincided with their Lollapalooza tour, in which they shared the stage with many of the era's most successful acts such as The Smashing Pumpkins and The Breeders.
Finch left the band during the recording of their next album, with Sparks and Greta Brinkman playing bass on their fifth album The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum, after which Gail Greenwood, (formerly of the band Belly) became the band's full-time 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 Donita Sparks and The Stellar Moments. Finch is working in a punk rock group, The Shocker. During this time, Donita Sparks was working on a documentary about the band, with a rumoured 2014 release date.
On December 10, 2014, L7 announced, on their official Facebook page, that they would be reuniting, featuring Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Jennifer Finch and Demetra Plakas. As part of the reunion, the band revamped their website and included a mailing list for fans.
A documentary is being made about the band and was being funded through Kickstarter. Fanart Banner