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Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics)

Wendy Orlean Williams (May 28, 1949 – April 6, 1998), better known as Wendy O. Williams, was the lead singer for the American punk band the Plasmatics, as well as a solo artist. Her stage theatrics included blowing up equipment, near nudity and chain-sawing guitars. Dubbed "The Queen of Shock Rock," Williams was widely considered the most controversial and radical female singer of her day. She often sported a Mohawk haircut. Williams was nominated in 1985 for a Grammy in the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance category during the height of her popularity as a solo artist.

Williams was born in Webster, New York. She attended R.L. Thomas (public) High School in Webster at least partway through the tenth grade, but apparently left school before graduating. At the age of 16, she hitchhiked her way to Colorado where she earned money selling crocheted string bikinis. She headed for Florida and then to Europe, where she worked as a macrobiotic cook in London and then as a dancer with a gypsy dance troupe. In 1976 she arrived at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City where she saw an ad in Show Business Magazine that lay open on the bus station floor. It was a casting call for radical anti-artist and Yale MFA graduate Rod Swenson's experimental "Captain Kink's Theatre". She replied to the ad and there was immediate chemistry between Swenson, known as Captain Kink, and Williams, which began a 22-year relationship that would see her launched as lead singer of the punk/metal rock group the Plasmatics some two years later.

In January 1981, Milwaukee police arrested her for simulating sex on stage. Also charged with battery to an officer and obscene conduct, she was later cleared. Later that same year in Cleveland, Ohio, Williams was acquitted of an obscenity charge for simulating sex on stage wearing only shaving cream (she subsequently covered her nipples with electrical tape to avoid arrest). Then, in November, an Illinois judge sentenced her to one year supervision and fined her $35 for roughing up a freelance photographer who had attempted to take her picture as she jogged along the Chicago lakefront. Meanwhile, the Plasmatics toured the world, having a concert in London cancelled on safety grounds, where the press dubbed them "anarchists." During shooting of an appearance on NBC's SCTV comedy program in 1981, studio heads said they would not air Williams unless she changed out of a stage costume that revealed her nipples. Williams refused. The show's make-up artists found a compromise and painted her breasts black.

In 1979 she appeared in Gail Palmer's XXX-rated adult production, Candy Goes to Hollywood playing herself (though she is credited as Wendy Williams). She is featured as a performer on a parody of The Gong Show where she shoots ping pong balls across the set from her vagina. Wendy recorded a duet of the country hit "Stand by Your Man" with Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead in 1982. In 1984, she released the W.O.W. album, produced by Gene Simmons of Kiss. Kiss members Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Eric Carr, and Vinnie Vincent also perform on the album. In 1985 Wendy starred in The Rocky Horror Show at the Westport Playhouse in St. Louis. The show played for over six months, but a nationwide tour fell through. In 1986, she starred in Tom DeSimone's indie-film Reform School Girls. Neither she nor manager Rod Swenson liked the film when it came out, but at this point the producers had heard Kommander of Kaos (her second solo album) and wanted to include 3 tracks from the album in the movie score. They approached Rod about producing the title track for the film and having Wendy sing it. The band reluctantly agreed to do it. Uncle Brian from the Broc joined Rod as co-producer and also played sax. He also appeared in the video that the film company had asked Rod to produce and direct, playing the sax and wearing a tutu. In 1987, she starred as the part-time friend/enemy in the underground spy world to the title character on Fox's The New Adventures of Beans Baxter. The Plasmatics' last tour was in late 1988. Williams appeared in Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog, directed by Paul S. Parco, in 1990. In 1988, Wendy put out another solo album, this time a "thrash rap" album called Deffest! and Baddest! under the name "Ultrafly and the Hometown Girls." Wendy's last known performance of a Plasmatics song occurred due to the prompting of Joey Ramone. She performed "Masterplan" one final time with Richie Stotts, when Richie's band opened for the Ramones on New Year's Eve, 1988.

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 health food store in Manchester. She explained this move by saying that she "was pretty fed up dealing with people." Despite her reputation as a fearsome performer, Williams in her personal life was deeply devoted to the welfare of animals, a passion that included a vegetarian diet, working as a wildlife rehabilitator and being a natural foods activist. In one TV talk show appearance on KPIX's The Morning Show, she accused Debbi Fields (of "Mrs. Fields" cookies) of being "no better than a heroin pusher" for using so much processed white sugar in her products.

Williams had first attempted suicide in 1993 by hammering a knife into her chest; the knife lodged in her sternum and she changed her mind, calling Swenson to take her to hospital. She attempted suicide again in 1997 with an overdose of ephedrine. Williams died at age 48 on April 6, 1998 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a wooded area near her home. While some argued that rather than compromise her art, she committed suicide, Swenson reportedly described her as "despondent" at the time of her death. This is what she is said to have written in a suicide note regarding her decision: “ 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. ” Gene Simmons, Joey Ramone, and many others issued statements on her achievement 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 this song officially 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 possibly TC Tolliver) played a six-song set with four of them handling the vocals.

The Plasmatics were an American heavy metal and punk band formed by Yale University art school graduate Rod Swenson with Wendy O. Williams. The band was a controversial group known for wild live shows that broke countless taboos. In addition to chainsawing guitars, blowing up speaker cabinets and sledgehammering television sets, Williams and the Plasmatics blew up automobiles live on stage. Williams was arrested in Milwaukee by the Milwaukee police before being charged with public indecency. The Plasmatics' career spanned five studio albums, and multiple EPs. The band was composed of vocalist/front person Wendy O. Williams and various other musicians rotated behind her over time. Aside from Wendy and manager Rod Swenson, Guitarist Wes Beech was the only other permanent member of the group. Guitarist Richie Stotts was a co-founder of the band and a mainstay of the pre-breakup core group (1978–1983). After the breakup of the band following the release of Coup d'Etat, Richie was edited out of band videos and not referred to by name in a 2006 compilation DVD released by Plasmatics Media LLC (via plasmatics.com).

In 1977, Rod Swenson, who received his MFA in 1969 from Yale where he specialized in conceptual, performance, and neo-dadaist art, held the view that the measure of true or high art is how confrontational it is. He began a series of counter-culture projects which, by the mid-70s, found him in the heart of Times Square producing experimental counter-culture theater as well as video and shows with the likes of the then-little-known bands The Dead Boys, The Ramones, Patti Smith, and others. It was there that he met Wendy O. Williams (her actual birth-given name, the O. standing for Orlean and her initials spelling "WOW") after Wendy happened upon a copy of Show Business Weekly someone had discarded on the bus station floor. The issue lay open to a page with an ad in the casting calls section for Rod's theater show Captain Kink's Sex Fantasy Theater. She answered the ad and applied for a job. The earliest known photo of the Plasmatics taken in the 1970s.Wendy and Rod began auditioning potential band members in 1977 and, in July 1978, the "Plasmatics" gave their first public performance at what would later become the rock shrine CBGB on New York City's Bowery. The earliest version of the band was a three piece put together with a strong emphasis on visuals. The band quickly realized they needed another guitarist to hold them together musically. Guitarist Wes Beech joined the group; he would become, after Wendy, the only permanent member of the group playing or touring behind or involved in the production of every Plasmatics and Wendy O. Williams record ever recorded. From their initial gig at CBGB's, The Plasmatics quickly rose in the New York City Punk Underground scene of the time. From playing a single weekday night, they moved quickly to playing repeated stands of four nights straight with two sold-out shows each night. They had lines stretching around the block and brought more fans into CBGB's during this time than any other band in its history. The group quickly outgrew CBGB's, largely because there were no intermediate rock venues to play in New York City at that time. The band's stage show soon became notorious, with acts such as chainsawing guitars in half part of their performance. Jim Farber of Sounds described the show: "Lead singer/ex-porn star/current weight lifter Wendy Orleans Williams (W.O.W. for short) spends most of the Plasmatics' show fondling her family size breasts, scratching her sweaty snatch and eating the drum kit, among other playful events". Rod Swenson soon made a deal to book what was then a little known polka hall called Irving Plaza from the Polish War Veterans who ran it at the time. The band repeatedly sold out the venue, with The Plasmatics helping to give Irving Plaza national recognition and launch it on the path to becoming an established rock venue in New York City. Having then caught the full attention of the most important people in the entertainment world of New York City, the Plasmatics headlined the Palladium Theater on November 16, 1979, the first group in history to do so at full ticket prices and without a major label recording contract.

The Plasmatics were soon selling out shows in Philadelphia, Boston, venues in New Jersey, and elsewhere in the Northeast. Chris Knowles of Classic Rock magazine wrote: The Plasmatics "were the biggest live attraction in New York... and the media was on them like white on rice... It's one thing to play at subversiveness, but The Plasmatics, unlike other Punk bands... put their Punk philosophy into action." Many U.S. record labels were afraid to sign the band; The band was signed by Stiff Records, a British label, in March 1980, and appeared on the cover of Sounds in June that year. Artists and Repertoire (A&R) from Stiff Records flew to New York City to see a show in person to determine if what they had been reading and hearing could possibly be real. The day after seeing the performance, Stiff put in an offer and a deal was inked within a month. A few months later, The Plasmatics began to record songs in New York City for what would become the album New Hope for the Wretched. In addition to songs like "Corruption" and "Living Dead", which were linked to TV smashing and automobile destruction, the song "Butcher Baby" featured a chainsaw sawing through a guitar in place of a guitar solo which also took place during their live shows. The Plasmatics visited the UK for a tour, which met with opposition from some quarters including the GLC, particularly for their intention to blow up a car as part of their stage show and Williams' semi-nudity, and the GLC cancelled the band's show at the Hammersmith Odeon after fire inspectors decided the show would not meet safety requirements, although police had already arrived to disperse the gathering crowd before the decision had officially been taken. Stiff released "Butcher Baby" as a single where it reached #55 on the UK Singles Chart. Stiff America had scheduled a release and a US tour. To capitalize on the band's popularity, the US edition of the album came packaged with a poster for the cancelled Hammersmith Odeon show and an insert for the Plasmatics Secret Service, the official fan club. The album reached #55 on the UK Albums Chart. The band was set to tour the West Coast for the first time after the London cancellation and get their momentum back. To kick off the tour, Wendy drove a Cadillac towards a stage at a free concert on New York City's Pier 62 loaded with explosives, jumping out moments before the car would hit the stage, blowing up all the equipment. The permits needed for this were hard to get and only allowed for an estimated 5-6,000 people. The day of the performance, 10,000 showed up, jamming the downtown streets and lining the rooftops. Even though it cost virtually the entire advance for the US release of New Hope for the Wretched to do it, Wendy was quoted by a reporter from the Associated Press as saying, "It was worth it because it showed that these are just things and... people shouldn't worship them," a point she'd repeat more than once. The Plasmatics debut in Los Angeles was at the famed Whisky a Go Go. The show was originally planned for only 2 nights, but was later expanded to 4 due to large sold-out crowds. The ABC show Fridays, which was looking to be a more cutting-edge version of Saturday Night Live, booked Wendy and the Plasmatics to appear in late December to go live on national TV. In January 1981, Wiliams' stage performance in Milwaukee led to her arrest on charges of indecency after she reportedly "simulated masturbation with a sledge hammer in front of an audience". After objecting to being searched she was thrown to the ground and reportedly kicked in the face (later requiring a dozen stitches), with manager Rod Swenson also beaten unconscious when he tried to intervene. Williams was charged with battery of a police officer, resisting arrest, and "conduct in violation of a Milwaukee city ordnance pertaining to establishments that sell liquor", with Swenson also charged, but both were later cleared of all charges. A subsequent performance at the Palm Club sold out, and passed without incident, although the venue was raided after the show by the vice squad, with more than 30 police officers in attendance in case of trouble. Williams was also arrested on obscenity charges in Cleveland, but she was again acquitted.

5.0 out of 5 stars Punk rock turns classic Metal, September 30, 2011 By R. F. Harrington "pooksmasterjam" (Cumming, GA USA) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: Coup D'Etat (Reis) (Mlps) (Audio CD) I had this LP back in Jr. high and forgot about the Shock-Punk rock band Plasmatics. Their first few albums rocked, but were short and sweet. Nothing like these freaks and Wendy O Williams carried the flag with her crazy antics and skimpy outfits. coup D'etat is their 3rd album and when they crossed over into more of a metal sound. All 10 tracks really rock it and somehow I remembered the lyrics after 25 years. The remastered cd/album packaging is cool and got for under $10. Def check this one out and move backwards in the catalog.

5.0 out of 5 stars classic, September 14, 2011 By D. Austrian - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: Coup D'Etat (Reis) (Mlps) (Audio CD) Anyone that loves metal should love this CD. It is solid from beginning to the end. Melodies to rip your face off. The best female singer in metal ever. If this one is not in your collection you might as well start listening to the oak ridge boys because your not really metal.

4.0 out of 5 stars Plasmatics + good producer = great metal!, May 6, 2011 By Christopher Fryer (United States) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) This review is from: Coup D'Etat (Reis) (Mlps) (Audio CD) I was never a big fan of the Plasmatics when I was a teen in the 80s. I had heard about some guy who had the honor of Wendy coming over to his house to smash some TVs. I also saw the video for The Damned and thought the song was pretty good but I was not motivated to check out the album. Perhaps I thought at the time that they relied too much on image and attitude, not enough on the actual music. Up to this album the Plasmatics were more of a punk band. When they teamed up with legendary metal producer Dieter Dierks they became heavier and more polished. However, the bonus demos on my version of the CD sound very similar to the actual album so some fans may debate how much influence Dieter actually had. A few years ago I was able to download a few songs from this album and I was quite impressed with the songwriting. I soon bought the CD. Songs like Stop, Put Your Love In Me, Rock and Roll, and The Damned are metal classics! The riffs crush and Wendy sings her ass off. There is not a bad track on the album. It's a shame this album did not get the recognition it deserved because not long after this album Wendy went out on her own to make mediocre commercial metal.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars Attempted Overthrow, August 21, 2008 By Tim Brough "author and music buff" (Springfield, PA United States) - See all my reviews (TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (VINE VOICE) This review is from: Coup D'Etat (Reis) (Mlps) (Audio CD) A Coup D'Etat is defined as "a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force." With the third and final album composed of the primary original trio (Wendy Orlean Williams, Wes Beech and Richie Stotts), "Coup D'Etat" was the point where The Plasmatics dove headlong into Heavy Metal. Not like no-one could see that coming, as both Beyond the Valley of 1984 and the Dan Hartman produced Metal Priestess were inching towards thrash metal years before it was a full-on trend. "Coup" was also the album that found The Plasmatics off of original label Stiff and on to Capitol. This brought them bigger budget and a power producer, Dieter Dirks (Scorpions, [[ASIN:B000065AU3 Accept]]. While Stotts and Beech had become a more than formidable guitar team, Dirks buried Wendy deep in the mix. While that isn't always a bad thing, given that some of the songs are little more than two lines repeated over and over for four minutes, a message song like "Stop" deserves to have its lyrics front and center. Along with "Stop," there are two other Plasmatic classics here, the infamous "The Damned" and the cover of Motorhead's "No Class." "The Damned" got Wendy onto MTV, riding atop a school bus roof and leaping to safety just before it blows up, and "No Class" is a perfect match of singer to song. Wendy could have been Lemmy; it's easy to see why they became pals and eventually recorded their Stand By Your Man duet. "Coup D'Etat" also was formidable enough a rock album to draw the attentions of Kiss, who offered them an opening slot on their Creatures of the Night tour (and ultimately to Gene Simmons producing Wendy's WOW solo debut. Unfortunately, Capitol got gun-shy over The Plasmatics' controversial behavior and backed off promotional efforts on "Coup." It became the first Plasmatics album to not break onto the Billboard Top 200 albums (actually fairing worse than the albums on Stiff!). But don't be fooled. Wendy O Williams still had all the awesome power and the band had refined itself to a point where "Coup D'Etat" was more ahead of its time then anything else. It's an album that merits rediscovery.

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful: 3.0 out of 5 stars Reproduction Of Original, July 4, 2008 By Steven C. Birkes "scb rocker" (USA) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) This review is from: Coup D'Etat (Reis) (Mlps) (Audio CD) First I would like to say that I think "Coup d' Etat" is one of the Plasmatics best albums. Now for the bad news. There are several reproductions out there and the CD I bought was a Caroline Label and for some reason before they put this on the market they did not bother to listen to it first. They left out track 5, which is "No Class" and repeated the 4th track "Lightning Breaks", which is a great song, but does not deserve to be repeated. Wendy's cover of Motorhead's "No Class" is a great song and deserves to be heard. The track "Uniformed Guards" is totally missing from this reproduction too. The lesson here is to purchase Plasmatics merchandise released by "Plasmatics Media" then you are gauranteed to get an authentic high quality reproduction. Always Check Album/CD Label before purchasing. I recommend this album as a must for fans, just not a reproduction by Caroline Studio.

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars It still kills!, May 11, 2008 By idle "d-g-m" (Sammamish, WA USA) - See all my reviewsThis review is from: Coup D'Etat (UK) (MP3 Download) I love this album!!!! this is the 3rd version of it that I've had and it still sounds as good now as it did in the 80's when I bought the LP. Buy this version not the Coup D' Grace version this one's more polished and hits harder and Mistress of Taboo is way better that Mistress of Passion.