Happy birthday the Queen of Shock Rock: Wendy O. Williams!
If she were alive, she’d be 70 today.
She came to prominence as the lead singer of a conceptual punk rock group, “the world’s most shocking rock ‘n’ roll band”, Plasmatics.
After leaving home at 16, traveled accross the US and Europe landing various jobs such as lifeguard, stripper, performing live sex shows and appeared in the adult film Candy Goes to Hollywood.
In 1979 she was approached by Rod Swenson, recruited her to the Plasmatics. The band shortly became known on the New York City underground scene, performing at clubs such as CBGB.
Williams recorded a duet of the country hit “Stand by Your Man” with Lemmy of Motörhead in 1982. In 1984, she released her solo debut, W.O.W., produced by Gene Simmons of Kiss.
Williams was considered the most controversial and radical female singer of her time. Performing her own stunts in videos, she often sported a Mohawk hairstyle. In 1985, during the height of her popularity as a solo artist, she was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
In 1991, Williams moved to Storrs, Connecticut, where she lived with her long-time companion and former manager, Rod Swenson, and worked as an animal rehabilitator and at a food co-op in Willimantic. She explained her retirement by saying that she “was pretty fed up dealing with people.”
Williams died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 6, 1998, when she was 48.
Featured image photo via Hazlitt.