The Topp Twins Profile

Redmer Yska
6 Apr 2018

Jools and Lynda Topp seem an unlikely entertainment phenomenon: a pair of stroppy, political lesbian country singers from the Waikato backblocks who went from high street busking to TV superstardom.

They see themselves as musicians first, but are aware of that despite being at the cutting edge politically, their diversity as entertainers comes from an earlier era. “We never see ourselves as just musicians or singers,” says Jools Topp in a 2018 interview for AudioCulture. “We certainly don’t just see ourselves as comedians, you see, we’re vaudeville! We’re old school!”

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The Topp Twins, Don McGlashan and the Seven Sisters tour the vineyards, 2010
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-177-0, Alexander Turnbull Library
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Topp Twins: "Untouchable Girls" (Live at the Black Barn, Hawkes Bay, 2011 with the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, Tami Neilson, Marian Burns, Cameron Luxton)
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A flyer from Camp Mother's campaign for the mayoralty of Auckland, 1998
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-108, Alexander Turnbull Library
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The Topp Twins, 1998, from left: Lynda and Jools
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"Nuclear free" cassette re-issue of the Topp Twins' 1982 album 'Go Vinyl' 
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-38-2, Alexander Turnbull Library
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Jools and Lynda Topp in the foyer of the National Library, Wellington, at the opening of an exhibition dedicated to their career, 26 March 2018
Photo credit: Mark Beatty/National Library of NZ
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Merchandising from the Topp Twins' TV series, 2000s
Photo credit: PAColl-10215-36, Alexander Turnbull Library 
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Topp Twins: live yodelling demonstration, New York, 2011
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Lynda and Jools Topp: a publicity still from the early 1980s
Photo credit: PA-Coll-10215-23, Alexander Turnbull Library
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Helen Clark, Jools and Lynda Topp, and Jacinda Ardern at the launch of the Topp Twins' exhibition at the National Library, Wellington, 26 March 2018
Photo credit: Mark Beatty/National Library of NZ
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Lynda and Jools Topp check out a National Library exhibition marking the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage. Among the signatories on the petition is an ancestor, Charlotte Elizabeth Topp - Wellington, 26 March 2018
Photo credit: Mark Beatty/National Library of NZ
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Topp-ical: the Topp Twins' newsletter, September 1998
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-117, Alexander Turnbull Library
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The Topp Twins News, volume one, number one, May1995
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-117, Alexander Turnbull Library
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Bruce Topp, the twins' brother who gave them their first guitar, continues his support in 2017. 
Photo credit: Topp Twins collection
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Lynda Topp's court summons after being arrested for obstruction - ie, busking - on Queen Street, Auckland, 1989. 
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-05, Alexander Turnbull Library
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Lynda and Jools Topp perform 'Untouchable Girls' at the opening of the exhibition celebrating their career: National Library, Wellington, 26 March 2018
Photo credit: Mark Beatty/National Library of NZ
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The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls trailer (2009)
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Liner notes for the combined cassette release of the Topp Twins' 'Go Vinyl' (1982) and 'Twinset & Pearls' (1984) albums
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-38-3, Alexander Turnbull Library
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Jools and Lynda Topp at the opening of the exhibition celebrating their career: National Library, Wellington, 26 March 2018
Photo credit: Mark Beatty/National Library of NZ
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Jools Topp
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Lynda and Jools Topp arrive at Radio New Zealand's Auckland studios to "play favourites" with Kim Hill, 2015
Photo credit: RNZ/Dru Faulkner
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Two Topp Twins, Tony Waine, Mike Chunn and Andy Dickson at the 1984 APRA Silver Scrolls. 
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Lynda and Jools Topp with their New Zealand Music Award for the best country album: Flowergirls & Cowgirls (2007)
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Liner sleeve for the Topp Twins' 1992 cassette 'Hightime'
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-38-4, Alexander Turnbull Library 
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An urgent fax of 'Untouchable Girls' guitar chords, 2002
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-182, Alexander Turnbull Library
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Good sisters gone bad: punkish Topp Twins in concert, early 1980s
Photo credit: PA-Coll-10215-01, Alexander Turnbull Library 
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Revelry at the 1984 APRA Silver Scolls. Sitting, in a brown jacket, is Benny Levin. Behind him are, from left, Ray Columbus, Ashley Heenan and Lynda and Jools Topp.
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Recording demos for the 'Out of the Corners' compilation at The Lab studio, Auckland, 1982. From left: engineer Bill Latimer, Lynda Topp, and Mahinarangi Tocker
Photo credit: Bill Latimer collection
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Lynda Topp in the Territorial Force Signals Platoon, Nelson, 1977
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-09, Alexander Turnbull Library
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Jools and Lynda Topp with guests exploring the exhibition celebrating their career: National Library, Wellington, 26 March 2018. From left: Lynda Topp, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, National Librarian Bill Macnaught, former Prime Minister Helen Clark, and Jools Topp
Photo credit: Mark Beatty/National Library of NZ
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The Topp Twins on the Redhat stage at Nambassa, 1981 - a festival of "peace, love and barfi".
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Bruno Lawrence, Jools Topp and Tama Renata
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An itinerary for the first two months of the Topp Twins' Great New Zealand Caravan tour, 1989
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-50-1, Alexander Turnbull Library 
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The Topp Twins on the cover of the NZ Women's Weekly, 29 June 1998
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Lynda Topp discusses activism - or caravans - with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, National Library, Wellington, 26 March 2018. Slightly obscured between them is Andy Lowe, the director of Te Manawa Museum, Palmerston North, which developed the touring exhibition about the Topp Twins.
Photo credit: Mark Beatty/National Library of NZ
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The Topp Twins, Lynda and Jools, early 1980s
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
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Excerpt from Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, 2009
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Lynda Topp, left, with Hattie St John, and Jools Topp
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The Topp Twins play the Sydney Fringe Festival, 1986
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-177-1, Alexander Turnbull Library

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The Topp Twins in their element
Photo credit: PAColl-10215-24, Alexander Turnbull Library
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The Chicks with the Topp Twins, Volume Exhibition, Auckland Museum, 2016. Left to Right: Judy Hindman, Jools Topp, Suzanne Lynch, Lynda Topp.
Photo credit: Judy Donaldson collection
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The Topp Twins' 'Flowergirls and Cowgirls' was judged the best country album at the New Zealand music awards, 2007
Photo credit: MS-Papers-11685-38-1, Alexander Turnbull Library
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Members:

Jools Topp - vocals, guitar

Lynda Topp - vocals, guitar

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