Who is Klymaxx?
If you’re well versed in the sounds that pioneered a new wave of Pop/R&B music in the 1980s,
then you’re no stranger to the iconic all-female American band that changed the face of music
and still does today. Klymaxx, hailing from Los Angeles, California, pioneered the music industry
by being the first all-female band to write, produce and perform their very own music.
Created by front-woman and drummer Bernadette Cooper. This sensational female force coined the infectious name Klymaxx and, over the years, revolutionized the role women in the music industry play.
The road to establishing the all-girl collective started when Bernadette put her studies on hold,
took a leap of faith, and decided to pursue her dream full-time. Adamant on finding the
right fit for the Klymaxx sound and brand, she held auditions for years until she was able to
secure female musicians to match the vision of what Cooper felt the band needed. Once the core group had been established with guitarist Cheryl Cooley, keyboardist Lynn Malsby, and Robbin Grider, the search came to a sweet end once vocalist Lorena Porter (Stewart) came on board. Later, after signing their first contract, Cooper made personnel changes, and bassist/vocalist Joyce Irby
joined the group. Together the girls carried the Klymaxx sound to the next level.
What made the collective stand out from the crowd was their resolute passion for changing the face
of what a musician was in the 80s by creating their personal infectious sound; then performing their
own music. This shook the industry, and Klymaxx became Pop/R&B pioneers, and they took the nation by storm.
Not only was the band making headlines for being the first of its kind, but the message in their
music disrupted the status quo and left an impact on the Pop/R&B genre to this day. Klymaxx
has always been a musical entity that uplifts women and brings that energy into the 80s
forced everyone to pay attention to their empowering lyrics in songs like, ‘The Men All
Pause,’ ‘Sexy’ and ‘Divas Need Love Too’ gave the band the recognition they deserved, and
with the release of ‘I Miss You,’ the girls entered the dome of pop stardom.
Klymaxx made their debut into the Pop/R&B world in 1981, when the then-president of Solar
Records, Mr. Dick Griffey extended the opportunity of a lifetime and signed the band to the
label. Soon after, they worked meticulously in the studio to get their debut album out.
Unfortunately, the album Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman was not received
well. However, even though the album didn’t meet their expectations, Klymaxx alerted the
music industry that a new sound was on the rise, and it was backed by an all-female crew that
shook the image of a textbook pop band.
Without much hesitation and no time to rest, the group got to work on their next album. This
time around, they brought on industry heavy-hitters like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of The
Time was one of the first acts to work with the writers/producers. Together, the team
wrote and produced ‘Wild Girls and released their second album titled, Girls, will be Girls.
Although this album finally allowed them more expression, the ladies still struggled to fully form
Fast forward a few years, the band’s label switched to the MCA distributed Constellation label,
and at last, the girls were able to really experiment and figure out their own sound. With this
new-found spark and creative freedom, Klymaxx released Meeting in the Ladies Room, their
third album, which features their first hit, ‘The Men All Pause.’
In no time, the Men All Pause with lyrics crafted by Cooper skyrocketed, and they were on their
way to pop success. Their next single, ‘I Miss You,’ written by Lynn Malsby, released in 1985,
became a major hit record – peaking at #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart and #5
on the Billboard Hot 100. The single remained on the Hot 100 for a consecutive 29 weeks, the
longest chart run of the decade, making it the third best-selling song of 1986. I Miss You was
the first song of its kind to make it to the top 10 spots.
Finally, the song ‘Meeting in the Ladies Room’ made the band serious contenders in the
music world. Now offers came in for television and movie projects, such as ‘Man Size Love,’
written by Rod Temperton for the motion picture soundtrack of the movie, Running Scared.
This hit was also included in Klymaxx’s greatest hits album.
In 1987, the band released their fourth self-titled project, which featured another collection of
hits such as ‘SEXY,’ ‘Divas Need Love Too,’ and ‘I’d Still Say Yes,’ which was written by
Babyface (credited as K. Edmonds). ‘I’d Still Say Yes’ peaked at #8 on the Billboard Adult
Contemporary and #18 on the Hot 100.
The Rise of the Solo Careers
By the late 80s, the band’s progress had begun to slow down as the girls found themselves
engulfed in solo projects and aspirations. In 1988, Bernadette began working on her own
project with her newly formed girl group, Madam X. Bernadette wrote and produced their
the critically acclaimed self-titled album, Madame X, through Sylvia Rhône at Atlantic Records;
securing a #5 spot for the hit song Just That Type of Girl.
By the end of 1989, the group’s presence came to a halt when Bernadette and Joyce began
their own respective solo careers, and the band was now down to three members: Lorena,
Cheryl and Robbin.
However, just one year later, the remaining girls began to decline with the newly emerging
sounds of the New Jack Swing era. The band couldn’t keep up and was consequently dropped
by the label.
In 1990, Bernadette signed with MCA Records and released a critically acclaimed solo album
entitled Drama According to Bernadette Cooper. The album had three singles, of which ‘I
Look Good’ hit #10 on the charts. Later, this song would be featured in Klymaxx’s greatest hits
album, Stupid, followed by Underground soon after. During this time, Bernadette made a
cameo appearance on Teena Marie’s 1990 single, ‘Here’s Looking at You.’
Bernadette was now a well-recognized force in the entertainment industry and had begun
being sought out as a musical innovator. She began writing and producing for other artists such
as Cheryl Lynn, Shalimar, Lenny Kravitz, Paula Abdul, Prince’s protégé band Mazarati, and many
Along with this, Bernadette collaborated with Hip Hop’s dynamic duo, Salt N Pepa, where she
performed and wrote the song ‘I am the Body Beautiful.’ This hit became the opening song
and soundtrack to the motion picture movie, Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie
Newmar’ with Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze. Building up her career milestones, she was
able to quickly add Music Supervisor to her portfolio for the movie Action Jackson, having
written and produced the title track.
In 1997, Bette Midler revisited and revived, ‘I Look Good’ and premiered it as the opening
song for her ‘Diva Las Vegas’ show and still today has adapted the song as part of her tour.
Bernadette continued her presence in the entertainment industry by discovering new talents, including John B and Rob Bacon.
The Klymaxx Revival
Moving into the new century, the 2000s breathed a breath of fresh air for the band as the tides
of a revival began to turn. In 2004, five of the six members from the classic Klymaxx lineup
appeared on an episode of the VH1 series, Bands Reunited. During the episode, the girls got
in sync and performed their classic hit singles. After the VH1 performance, a majority of the
band continued to tour and re-introduce the world to the iconic sound of Klymaxx.
In 2012, the band made their mark on a cable network with the release of their documentary
titled Klymaxx. The documentary appeared on TV One and featured all six members of the all-
girl collective, chronicling the story of the group’s genesis and rise to fame. That same year,
Saturday Night Life spoofed a portrayal of Klymaxx, having Halle Berry play Bernadette.
In 2014, Bernadette created and starred in her one-woman show, currently billed as KLYMAXX
presents Bernadette Cooper, Diva & A Turntable. The theatrical show focuses on Bernadette
with two singing divas and a DJ. On occasion, the show features a live drummer, and the
intimate setting showcases performances of her hits, both from Cooper’s solo career and songs
she’s written and produced for other artists and, of course, hits from KLYMAXX.
For the next year, the band continued touring together, as a collective, under the banner.
‘KLYMAXX ft. Bernadette Cooper.’
Fast forward to this last year,
In 2019, the band saw themselves portrayed again on Saturday Night Live. This time, with
Actress Emma Stone as Bernadette, and Leslie Jones rocking the iconic hairstyle that Lorena Lungs
made famous, remaking one of Klymaxx’s music videos.
2019 the show Empire showcased the lyrics that Cooper made famous in The Men All Pause, “ I
know I was looking good, I had my Gianni Versace blue leather suit on, my nails were done, and
my hair was fierce, and I was riding in Cooper’s Limousine...Don’t you want to ride?”
With the start of a new decade,
2022 Bernadette Cooper had a successful touring year and plans to repeat it in 2023.