Wendy O. Williams

Wendy O. Williams

Birth
Webster, Monroe County, New York, USA
Death 6 Apr 1998 (aged 48)
Storrs, Tolland County, Connecticut, USA
Burial Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown
Memorial ID 6723819 · View Source
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Singer, leader of the punk rock band, the Plasmatics. Called the Queen of Shock Rock, she was one of the most controversial singers of her day, and innovative in much of her hard rock style, setting trends that later bands would copy. Born Wendy Orlean Williams in Webster, New York (a suburb of Rochester), she attended R. L. Thomas Public High School there, dropping out of school in the 9th grade. At the age of 16, she left home and hitchhiked to Colorado, earning money by crocheting string bikinis. Traveling to Florida and then to Europe, she worked as a cook in London and as a dancer with a traveling dance troupe. By 1978, she returned to California where she performed in live sex shows, and soon began appearing in adult films, including her most noted adult film, "Candy Goes to Hollywood" (1979). In 1978, Manager Rod Swenson recruited her to join his newly forming punk rock band, the Plasmatics, which debuted in New York City nightclubs. Over the next twenty years, Swenson would become her constant companion and lover. The Plasmatics soon became known for its wild concerts, which would often land it and Wendy in local courts. They would chain-saw guitars, smash television sets, detonate amplifiers, and collapse lighting trusses during their performances. Wendy would frequently appear on stage wearing nothing more than strategically placed pieces of electrical tape. In January 1981, Milwaukee police arrested her for simulating sex on stage. During her arrest she allegedly cursed the police and struggled with them, which added the charges of assault and battery on a police officer and obstructing an officer; eventually all charges were dropped. Later that year, she was arrested in Cleveland on obscenity charges when she appeared at a concert wearing only shaving cream and simulating sex; she was acquitted at her trial. In November 1981, she again made the news, when she was sentenced to one year supervision and fined $35 for striking a free-lance photographer who tried to take her photo while she was jogging in Chicago. Despite her controversial style, which included her trademark Mohawk haircut and nearly naked, carefully shredded costumes, she was nominated in 1985 for a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal. The band's performances regularly included theatrics during their performances. During their tour of England, the group appeared on Tom Snyder's "Tomorrow" show, blowing up a car in the studio during their show. From 1981 until the band broke up in 1988, Wendy would often go solo without the band, returning for performances, and making several solo albums. After the Plasmatics broke up, her career began to fade during the 1990s, as audience tastes changed, which left her depressed. She and Rod Swenson moved to Storrs, Connecticut in 1995, where she worked as a health food advocate (she was vegetarian), and had established a wildlife preserve, The Quiet Corner Wildlife Center. On April 6, 1998, Swenson returned to their home in Storrs, CT, to discover a suicide note. Searching the woods nearby where she liked to walk, Swenson found her body and a pistol next to her. Part of her suicide note read: "The act of taking my own life is not something I am doing without a lot of thought. I don't believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time. I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have. For me, much of the world makes no sense, but my feelings about what I am doing ring loud and clear to an inner ear and a place where there is no self, only calm." She was 48 years old.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: A.J.
  • Added: 27 Aug 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6723819
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Wendy O. Williams (28 May 1949–6 Apr 1998), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6723819, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.