Fanny starts with the riffs of June Millington’s 1956 Les Paul, played through the obvious combination of a Fender Bassman. It’s that kind of sound. She has learned to play the guitar almost totally by ear, her technical and theory background, while limited, doesn’t interfere with her perception on how a lead should be compatible with the band’s overall sound.
“I think a solo should be melodic first,” says June, “and, if you are an exceptional player, you can make it melodic and disjointed at the same time. But that’s a difficult trip to play. It also has to do with rhythm and syncopation with all the notes.”
Initially, June didn’t want to play lead guitar. Tapped for the role in one of her early bands, she “balked.”
“I was actually scared,” she says. “I thought what everybody else thought—that a chick couldn’t play lead. I was really inhibited.”
But she did make the attempt, beginning by listening to records and taping things, then slowing down the tapes to figure out what the lead guitar was doing.
“I did that night and day for a year,” June says. “I’d learn a little bit, and then I’d want to learn more. It became an obsession. Most of the time, when I listen to guys doing solos, I don’t think it sounds too good. I get bored myself, and I figure if I don’t dig it, why should I put that kind of thing on other people. There have been so many times when we’ve listened to a group, and said, ‘Yeah, he’s pretty good and he’s really fast, but he just isn’t saying anything.’”
Unusual in lead playing, June uses a fingerpick on her middle finger in combination with a Herco flat pick. One little trick she gets off on is turning the pick around and using the perforated side against the string for a “raspy sound.”
“I can also use the additional pick to play two notes at a time, and cut into semi-fingerpicking licks,” she says.
She plays in G tuning [low to high: D, G, D, G, B, D], and her only accessory is a no-name wah-wah from Holland.
Into musical directions, June just wants to be able to play a little bit of everything, and she never figures on settling on one particular style.
“Because I’m so spaced out being an Aries and all, I’m the one in the group who likes to try everything,” she says. “But it’s kind of groovy, too, because the group together selects what we will do out of all the things I want to do. Sometimes, I get into doing music I would never have considered. I never used to do country music before, and now I dig a lot of it. And I never used to dig the blues, and now I dig it. I think every facet of music can be good.”