Joyce Rooks first gained local notice with the Cockpits and the Dinettes, both originally all-girl bands who - á la Josie and the Pussycats - had a black girl in the group with singer/guitarist Rooks.
“I joined the Cockpits in 1978 by answering a Reader ad,” recalled Rooks in 2010. “I had a guitar and amp and a cello which I kept hidden, as it didn’t seem punk rock enough at the time.” The Cockpits played their first gig at Porter's Pub at UCSD; after several membership changes, including latterday male players like future Beat Farmer Country Dick Montana, the group essentially morphed into the Dinettes.
Runaways mastermind Kim Fowley booked the Dinettes for his Battle of the Girl Bands at the Coo Coo’s Nest in Costa Mesa in late 1979, expressing interest in signing them to some unspecified label or rep firm, though this never happened.
In late 1979, the Dinettes released a single recorded at Accusound, “Poison” b/w “T.V.” They also recorded demos at Straighta Head Sound, and a live tape was later circulated from a November 1979 gig at the Deaf Club in San Francisco (which is indeed for deaf people). Rooks split in 1980, and the Dinettes later allowed men to integrate that group as well, though they ultimately split for good around 1981.
Rooks next joined Trowsers, a ska/reggae band which Kim Fowley also had a fleeting interest in. “After the Trowsers, I hooked up with the Penetrators as a backup singer. Along the way, I would sing with the Country Dick Montana’s Pleasure Barons Revue and record with the Beat Farmers on their Poor and Famous album.”
Rooks then spent four years working at the Tower Records Sports Arena store, before moving to L.A. to work for CEMA Distribution (Capitol, EMI Music) from 1988 to 1994. “During the L.A. years, I continued to play guitar with a reggae band called the Ideals. I also did some recording gigs with Carla Olsen of the Textones and eventually began playing cello again with a band called Wait For Nothing. We recorded a CD and did a couple of European tours.”
After moving back to San Diego, Rooks played cello with folk singer Elizabeth Hummel and Cindy Lee Berryhill, as well as recording two CDs with Formula, a band formed by employees of Lou’s Records.
As a cello player, she turned up locally around the turn of the century with Cabaret Oscuro, featuring Bauhaus bassist David J (who was living in San Diego at the time). “I met David J in early in early 2001, after he had finished the Bauhaus Resurrection tour.”