June Millington has been making music since she was a child playing ukulele in her native Philippines.

Having moved from Manila to California in the early sixties, she and her sister, Jean, turned in their folk guitars for electric and formed a succession of all-girl bands.

Learn more about the Institute of Musical Arts in our full feature on the IMA.

Read the full transcript:

June Millington, Artistic Director: Music is the consuming passion of my life. And music is what liberated me and my sister. Half Asian, half American, kids in Manila. People didn’t really talk to us. So we were – we felt kind of left out. But, boy, we could sing with the radio and what was on the radio? American music.

You know, we had to learn how to be a band. Nobody was going to teach us. Now, try to imagine a world in which there were no role models, no girls in a band whatsoever. We didn’t have anybody to teach us, but we had our passion. We had the joy that music elicited from us. We just had to jump in the deep end.

So we did. My mom, of course, had gotten us the equipment and we just got together in our drummer’s living room. And by the way, we would play – her parents would be sitting there on the couch and we were playing over here and they watched us like TV. It was incredible.

Then we get to LA and our lead guitar player quit – oh and Jean and Alice turned to me and said, Well, now you got to play lead. And I was like, What? And so what happened? I got better and better. I made friends with Little George of Little Feat and Skunk Baxter of Steely Dan and later Doobie Brothers.

See, the better the player, the nicer they were to me. They were not competing. They knew they were the greatest, so why would they compete with little old June Millington? But, they were thrilled by the fact that I could play and that I wanted more.

So it was that kind of scene – everyone really wanted to see the chicks and the mansion, and we kept giving it to them. We got better and better. Sometimes with the help of great fans who would come over and we just played all the time. All the time.

You couldn’t make this up, honestly, you could not make this up. But it happened. I’m here to tell you actually happened.