DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Wendy O. Williams (aged 48)
Wendy Orlean Williams (May 28, 1949 – April 6, 1998) was an American singer, songwriter and actress. Born in Webster, New York, she came to prominence as the lead singer of the punk rock band Plasmatics. Her stage theatrics included partial nudity, blowing up equipment, and chain-sawing guitars.
DEATH: Williams died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 6, 1998, when she was 48. Swenson, her partner for more than 20 years, returned to their home in the area where they had lived since moving to Connecticut from New York City. He found a package she left for him that contained some noodles he liked, a packet of seeds for growing garden greens, some Oriental massage balm, and sealed letters from her.
The suicide letters, which included a “living will” denying life support, a love letter to Swenson and various lists of things to do, caused Swenson to begin searching the woods for her. After about an hour, as dusk fell, he found her body in a wooded area with a pistol lying on the ground nearby. “Wendy’s act was not an irrational in-the-moment act,” he said; for four years she had contemplated suicide. Swenson reportedly described her as “despondent” at the time of her death.
Joey Ramone and many others issued statements at the time of her death. On Motörhead’s 1999 live album Everything Louder Than Everyone Else, before the song “No Class,” Motörhead vocalist Lemmy said that he wanted to dedicate the song to her.
A memorial was held at CBGB on May 18. Several of Wendy’s former Plasmatics co-members (Chosei Funahara, Richie Stotts, Wes Beech, Stu Deutsch, Jean Beauvoir and TC Tolliver) played a six-song set with four of them handling the vocals.