Annabella Lwin the Original Bow Wow Wow

Dano Photography

From the ’80s punk rock revolution to the start of Sony’s Mini Disc Player featured in her video Carsex,” to today’s digital streaming MP3’s and 4’s, Annabella Lwin still rocks! The birth of  punk rock  in the London Underground movement began self-expression through music and fashion, idle-no-more mentality, and girls with Mohawks.  Annabella Lwin set that trend, and it is still popular today.


Annabella was among those who held the front line after the notorious Sex Pistols and Malcolm McClaren waged a war against the government by sticking two fingers up at London society, alongside the likes of Adam AntX-Ray SpexBuzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers. First as the teenaged lead singer of McClaren’s group Bow Wow Wow, and then with her solo career, Annabella  is still lighting up stages today, supporting causes close to her, reminding women that they can survive in the music industry, provided the rose-colored spectacles are removed.


All these years later, keeping spirits alive in the name of music, she carries on, head bowed, as a talent to be reckoned with–still  underrated and unrecognized in the Hollywood star trip machine, yet determined to never let “live” music die…


Annabella Lwin at Coasters, Edinburgh November 15, 1982
Photo by Duncan Mclean
Keno: Thank you for granting me this interview. I got to catch your show at the Brick & Mortar in San Francisco, and I was totally blown away over how you commanded the audience and stage. Afterward I wondered how such a beautiful women was able to survive in the music industry since the ’80s and still be able to carry such a genuine smile?

Belle: Thank you for saying that.

Keno: What secret could you share with BAM Magazine and other female artists who are in it for the long haul?

Belle: Have patience and pray!

It’s still no easier to be in the music industry if one is born a woman. An important thing to remember is:  don’t allow others to intimidate you, but at the same time, keep your ego in check, as we’re in the business of making music to help others through this crazy life.


Coasters, Edinburgh 1982

Keno: Punk rock, Mohawks, Sex Pistols, Malcolm Mclaren, Vivenne Westwood, the underground London scene, you were at the forefront of it all and must have a wealth of experiences. Could you tell us a little bit about your journey, and what you’re most thankful for, looking back on it all today?

Belle: Well…can’t divulge that much in a few paragraphs–not the way I like to talk!–but to sum it up, music and my Buddhist practice. For those who don’t know about the ’80s in the U.K.–too dang young, right?–it was a heaving, pulsating, thriving, colorful backdrop of diverse sounds and interesting-looking people. And some were involved in music.

I was a half-Asian/English school girl who was auditioned by a predominantly white group of 20-something musicians. The drummer and lead guitarist were remnants of an already famous band called Adam & the Ants. Apparently, it was the lead singer’s band, but he got passed up by the other musicians after he paid a famous manager from another band, The Sex Pistols,  to work with him. This manager was Malcolm McClaren [deceased, 2010].

I was 13-and-a-half when I auditioned and knew nothing about this, or indeed, had no clue about the music industry. I just knew I loved singing!

Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy Live at Casablanca 1983


Keno: And could you tell us if you’re satisfied with how your family and friends accepted your choice to be a female punk rocker?

Belle: Whoa! That’s a whole other story right there. Unfortunately, I had to join the band without the blessing of my only parent, my mother. I was without a father, as my parents divorced when i was very young. This was in my early years in Burma [now renamed Myan Mar]. My father was a captain in the Burmese Navy, then retired as a practicing Buddhist monk, and lived there all of his life.

Keno: What challenges did you have to face, and how did you overcome them?

Belle: I guess that’s when challenges began. Parents divorcing, moving away to live in my mother’s country. a very different language, and  life in an already over-populated city far away from the consciously religious way of living in the Far East. Being an only child–or so I thought–for several years was lonely, but I tried to fit in.

I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me, as I was like a round peg in a square hole! I started singing to help me overcome unhappiness. My mother was unable to look after me for a while because she was struggling in the nursing profession, working all the time, mainly nights at various hospitals. She sent me to live with her sisters, my aunties,  in the English countryside.

Keno: And what about your band,  the original members of Bow Wow Wow?

Belle: The lead guitarist died in 1995. The original band, sadly, lasted three years, 1980-83. Unfortunately, the guys in the band did the same to me as they did to Adam Ant. The only difference was, I was never friends with any of them. They were grown men, after all. I read in an English music paper at the time that I had stormed off stage on a U.S. tour–something wouldn’t do.


Photo by Holger Roschlaub

Keno: Rumor has it that the bass player is currently promoting Bow Wow Wow shows, but there’s a different singer. Is this true?  Are all the original members endorsing this project?

Belle: Can only say, presumably the bass player, his manager and agent are booking shows advertised as a band I’m still an original member of. It was done without my knowledge, permission, or consent. I just hope the real fans don’t buy the “stories” put out about me by all those who gain financially from misrepresentation of the original band.

Keno: Well, after seeing you ripping up the stage at your last show, it’s pretty clear that no one could ever substitute for you, and I guess it’s safe to say that you’re back. Could you tell us what new projects you have in the works, and where your dedicated fans can see you again?

Belle: Thanks, how nice of you to say. Moving on in every area of my life, so I guess we shall see where the music takes me! My Facebook page shall update when necessary.

Facebook Connection


Dano Photography

Keno: Your history in the music business is absolutely fascinating. Is there any chance that we will get to hear the entire story from you? I believe there are many fans out there who would really like to know the full story.

Belle: Hmm..well, that’s good to know!

Keno: Thank you again for sharing with us at BAM Magazine, Belle. Before you go, could you answer one more question for me? What could you tell new musicians out there about what you are hearing in the music they’re making today? And what would you like to hear more of in the music of our tomorrow?

Belle: It’s different for everyone, as we’re all so unique.! I would just say, to those who truly enjoy making music: do it for the right reasons, not just the fame/glamor side. Make sure you have people around that genuinely care about your well-being and help to nurture whatever it is you feel the need to do artistically. As it is an Art.

Music on CD Baby

White Smoke, Blue Smoke
Tell It Like It Is

Lwin, Annabella

Keno Mapp is a musician, producer, poet, book publisher and label owner whose work has appeared around the world. Keno can be reached at