For this weeks edition of Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d honor the band that, in my humble opinion, is one of the most underrated acts in recent history: The Gits. Formed in 1986 in Ohio, The Gits consisted of Mia Zapata (vocals,) Joe Spleen (guitar,) Matthew Dresdner (bass,) and Steve Moriarty (drums.) After moving to Seattle at the height of the grunge movement in 1989, The Gits quickly became the act to see, despite their notoriously quiet private lives. Music lovers were in awe of Moriarty, Dresdner, and Spleen’s professional playing, and paired with a powerhouse like Zapata, the band was quickly on the fast track to the big times. After becoming the first band to tour Europe completely dependent on fan and friend help with no support from a label, the band returned to the states to prepare new music.
On July 7th, 1993, the unthinkable happened: Mia Zapata was raped and strangled to death in a Seattle alleyway while walking home from a bar. After an extensive three-year investigation of Zapata’s friends and family by the Seattle PD with no suspects, the case started to go cold fast. Luckily, Gits fans, friends, and family were not willing to let the killer go free, and started rapidly selling CDs and other merchandise to raise funds for a private investigator. The case eventually go the attention of rocker Joan Jett, who paired with the remaining members of The Gits to form “Evil Stig” (“Gits Live” backwards,) and did a charity concert and album with all proceeds going toward the investigation. In addition to the investigation, a charity was formed in Mia’s honor, titled “Home Alive,” which provided self-defense classes for the women of Seattle. After a long seven years of no leads in the murder case, a random DNA sample helped convict Cuban-American fisherman Jesus Mezquia, who was sentenced to 36 years in prison, which is the longest possible sentence in Washington state.
Although Zapata’s life ended too soon, her influence still lives on to this day, being cited as a muse for bands such as Everclear and 7 Year Bitch. Personally, I can say with absolute conviction that Mia inspires me daily with her irreplaceable voice, impassioned lyrics, and positive message she put into all of her music. You can check out the full documentary on The Gits below, and always remember: VIVA ZAPATA!