Laura Kennedy, the original bassist and co-founder of seminal no wave band Bush Tetras who has spent the past 12 years living in Minneapolis, passed away on Monday afternoon.
Kennedy was diagnosed nearly two decades ago with Hepatitis C, a "scourge of an illness" she once wrote she believed she contracted in the '80s while living and playing in New York. Born in Cleveland, she moved to NYC in the late '70s and eventually made her way to the Twin Cities 12 years ago to live with her girlfriend. Complications from the disease eventually led to liver failure, and after a long wait and struggle she received a liver transplant in November of 2008 at the University of Minnesota. Shortly afterwards, friends from throughout the local punk community rallied to help her pay her astronomical medical bills, and in January of 2009 Bush Tetras reunited to perform their first Twin Cities show in 25 years with support from the Suicide Commandos, David Thomas of Pere Ubu, and Skoal Kodiak at a fundraiser at Nick and Eddie. (Writer and former Babes in Toyland member Michelle Leon wrote about Kennedy's benefit for City Pages at that time.)
Though she hasn't performed publicly for years, Kennedy's legacy will always be tied to her time in New York in the late '70s and '80s. Bush Tetras were one of the first female punk bands to gain notoreity in that era, and Kennedy's bass playing can be heard providing a creeping counter melody to Pat Place's angular guitar riffs in their best-known hit, 1980's "Too Many Creeps."
"I remember seeing Laura jump up with her bass in some kind of rock 'n' roll move (which no No Wave person would ever do) and it forever blowing my mind," Thurston Moore wrote in his book No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980. "I saw her as the coolest girl ever at that point. She certainly remains that way in my consciousness."
Other musicians from those early NYC punk days have stepped forward to express their own grief over Kennedy's passing. "She was a bright light to those who knew here and will be sorely missed," Richard Lloyd of Television wrote on his Facebook page.
For a better sense of Laura's spirit, however, we'll leave you with her own words, taken from a reflective essay she penned on her blog last year:
"Us New York City kids from the '80s, often transplanted from other cities, other countries, occasionally other planets (take a wild guess who I'm talking about) - we've kicked ass. We've taken names, too - and a good many of us have not only lived to tell, but are rockin' the telling and rollin' the living in a way that's inspirational... We keep going, and going and going. I defy you to tell me that all of us weren't defined by that moment in time that we shared. This has been apparent to me for a while, but more so now that we're a decade into the oughts. We were blessed to come together in this life at a time that defined the End of a Century."