JUNE MILLINGTON EXITED Fanny in late 1973 in part because of a near “nervous breakdown,” she said in a video interview. “I’m glad I left, because I knew that my life was on the line on some major level.” She was sitting in front of a crackling fire at her home on the campus of the Institute for the Musical Arts, a nonprofit recording and retreat facility she co-founded with her longtime partner, Ann Hackler, in Goshen, Mass. On the mantel were various Buddhist objects — Millington is a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism — and a framed photo of Jimi Hendrix.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back,” Millington said, was the record company’s insistence that Fanny, whose members favored ’70s California chic, dress up in glammy, more revealing outfits onstage. (“My top was $45 worth of American coins, looped together, that just pinched my nipples,” de Buhr said.) Millington saw it as a sign that Reprise had lost faith in the band. “I took it as an insult,” she said.
A new version of Fanny — featuring Adamian, Barclay, Darling and Quatro — signed with Casablanca Records and released a final album, “Rock and Roll Survivors,” in 1974. That record featured the single “Butter Boy,” which Adamian said was inspired by — but not about, as has been widely reported — her then-boyfriend, Bowie, and his gender-bending ways.
“‘He was hard as a rock, but I was ready to roll, what a shock to find out I was in control of the situation,’” Adamian said, reciting the song’s opening lines. “I mean, those kinds of lyrics were very tongue-in-cheek and intended to be provocative.” “Butter Boy” became Fanny’s biggest hit, reaching No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1975. But by that time, the band had split up for reasons both artistic and personal.
Fanny has technically never reunited. But in 2016, Millington, Adamian and Darling played together at a concert in Northampton, Mass., a collaboration that led to the self-titled album “Fanny Walked the Earth.” That LP includes appearances by de Buhr and Quatro, plus Valentine of the Go-Go’s and members of fellow all-female groups the Runaways and the Bangles.
A tentative plan to tour behind the Fanny Walked the Earth album was scuttled when, two months before the record’s March 2018 release, Adamian suffered a stroke that affected the right side of her body. Today, she uses a wheelchair to get around. “I cannot play bass,” she said. “I keep looking at my two fingers, going, ‘If just one of you would move, that would be good.’ It’s absolutely frustrating.”