Back To The Past (14):

The Tribute Story of WENDY O. WILLIAMS -
leadsinger to THE PLASMATICS and W.O.W.


Born on May 28, '49 in Rochester, New York and died on April 6, 1998 in Storrs, Connecticut - Wendy Orlean Williams, lead vocalist of the PLASMATICS and W.O.W. One of the most colourful people in the metal scene of the eighties. Also, one of the most misunderstood people in the scene, I guess. Her death made us decide to turn back time and tell you all the facts about her successful career. Cause although she may never have got the recognition she earned, Wendy always succeeded to become headline news all over the world. We enter the world of the sadly missed WENDY ORLEAN WILLIAMS.

Wendy showed her talents already at the age of six, when she appeared on television as a tap dancer. She was dropped out of the R.L. Thomas Highschool in the ninth grade. After awhile, she came in touch with Rod Swenson (aka Captain Kink), for whom she did live sex shows in New York City (1978). The same Swenson seemed to care for her more and he recruited her for his concept punkband, the PLASMATICS, with Wendy as eye-catching front lady. But I must admit that the other band members weren't the ideal sons-in-law, too. There was Wes Beech, the rhythm guitar player; he was in all the projects, Wendy was involved in. Wes now lives in Dearborn, Michigan, where he works at a local guitar store and he's still playing in a band. Stu Deutsch, the original drummer, who became a father only recently. O. Chosei Funahara, the original bass player and of course Richie Stotts, the 6'7" guitar player, who was famous for his outrageous costumes and excellent guitarwork. Richie now works with a band, called KING FLUX and he is currently getting a university degree.

Later on, the PLASMATICS went through some changes and switched a few band members. Some of them even made more career after their departure. Michael Ray, rhythm and lead guitar; he was also playing on Wendy's solo albums. Chris 'Junior' Romanelli, who played keyboards. Neil Smith, who was a guest drummer and other drummers, like Ray Callahan, T.C. Olliver, the late Joey Reese (who unfortunately died in '94) and ex-TWISTED SISTER drummer Tony Petri. They all were band members of the PLASMATICS once. But I saved the most successful member for last. Bassplayer Jean Beauvoir, who just like Wendy, had a mo-hawk back in those days. He's the man, who had the most success-ful career after leaving the PLASMATICS. He was found back in bands, such as LITTLE STEVEN & THE DECIPLES OF SOUL, VOODOO X and his recent outfit called CROWN OF THORNS. With this last mentioned band, he even supported BON JOVI in '95. What a difference in comparison to his PLASMATICS days!

But let's get back to '79. The early days, when Wendy and her boys became famous. Maybe not for their musical qualities, but more for their shock rock outfit and the stage shows, we all remember so well! Most people become famous by playing guitar, drums or bass or by singing very well. Wendy's instruments were the sledgehammer, chainsaw, vocals and sticks of dynamite! In '78, they release their first 7" "Butcher Baby" b/w "Fast Food Service" and "Concrete Shoes", both recorded live at the famous CGBG's. In '79 they release "Dream Lover" as a single, b/w "Corruption' and "Want You Baby". Also a 12" sees the light: It's called "Meet The PLASMATICS" and it has the following songs: "Sometimes I", "Won't You?" and "Want You Baby". In '80, they return (again!) with "Butcher Baby" on two formats. The 7" contains "Tight Black Pants" as a live version, whereas the 12' is filled with live versions of ""Living Death" and "Sometimes I". 1980 is also the year PLASMATICS release their first full-length album "No Hope For The Wretched". But like I said already, it wasn't really the music that gave them the recognition of being a very special band. Wendy was the highlight on stage. Topless, dressed in short trousers, she destroyed TV sets, guitars and even Cadillacs. For example in Holland, there was a huge riot, when a TV station showed a videoclip from the PLASMATICS. Some people even lost their jobs because of this. All over Europe shows were cancelled because of the low budget musical qualities of the band and the very touching sex shows of Wendy and her guys. And when the band played, things went wrong. Most relevant example was their show in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, where Wendy got arrested on stage. Although it looked silly at the time, it gave the band all the attention, a beginning band could ever ask for. All the media, radio, press, TV stations,etc. spend time and space to this 'obscene' act. Inbetween the riots, the PLASMATICS released a new 7" ('80) called "Monkey Suit" c/w "Squirm" (live) and in 1981, we see the release of a second full-length album, called "Beyond The Valley Of 1984". Followed by a six track EP/mini LP, which is titled "Metal Priestess". It has the songs: "Lunacy", "Doom Song", "Sex Junkie" (live), "Black Leather Monster", "12 Noon" and "Masterplan" (live).

1982 was another year, in which the press couldn't pass Wendy and her boys. In the first place through the release of the LP "Coup D'Etat", which also came out as a cassette version under the name of "Mistress Of Taboo", only leaving out the track "Lightning Breaks". But also another scandal appeared on the horizon. Wendy and Lemmy (MOTORHEAD) teamed up and released their version of the Tammy Wynette tune "Stand By Your Man" as a single. On the B side MOTORHEAD played "Masterplan" and Wendy did "No Class". According to the press this was tasteless. But not only the media bombed the product. The single was also the direct cause for the departure of Fast Eddy Clarke from MOTORHEAD. This three minute piece of music did it all! After Eddy's departure, Lemmy had to call in the help of Brian 'Robbo' Robbertson to keep MOTORHEAD on the road. Sadly but true, it also led to the split up of the PLASMATICS. Wendy wanted to start a solo career under her own name. So, she formed Wendy O. Williams or short W.O.W, as you all might know it.

Her first solo album, simply called "W.O.W" was released in '84 and it also came out as a picture disc. Nobody else but Gene Simmons (KISS) produced the record and he also added a few bass lines to it. The album also includes guest appearances by other KISS members Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley. As a solo artist, it seems Wendy finally gets the respect she deserved so much. "It's My Life" b/w "Priestess" is the first 7"/12" taken from the album. And her fanclub released a three track live EP cassette early '85, called "Fuck and Roll". Songs included are "Fuck 'n Roll", "Ain't None of Your Business" and "Bump And Grind". In '84 however, Wendy got nominated for a Grammy award for "Best Female Rock Vocalist". In '86 "Kommander Of Kaos" is released and Wendy appears in the movie "Reform School Girls". It didn't bring her too much fame perhaps, but it was another big step she had accomplished in life, namely acting in a movie. She also contributed four songs to the soundtrack album of the film, "Reform School Girls", "Bad Girl", "Going Wild" and "It's My Life".

1987 and 1988 were the last two years of her final releases. First up, we have the MAGGOTS album, a concept LP, which tells us the story of the invasion of the earth by giant mutated maggots. And then there was the release "Deffest! And Baddest!", on which Wendy invents the metal rap. Next, it seems Wendy suddenly disappears from the stage to never come back again. Everybody will always remember her as 'the woman with the electricity tape on her nipples. The woman, who climbed on stage, only dressed in shaving cream! The woman, who drove in a car and then jumped out of it right before it was going to explode! Or the woman that hang on a ladder under a hellacopter, just because she wanted to have a nice shot for her video clip. But almost nobody knew her after 1987, when she lived as a vegetarian and she worked in an animal rehabilitation center. These things were too human for the media, I guess. Her death made the press write about this diva of decibells again. Her death was a big shock to all the fans. Ironically, Wendy died in the same year as Tammy Wynette did - the woman that contributed to her success a lot. However, Wendy's death was very tragic. She comitted suicide by shooting herself, at the age of 48 in the woods of Storrs, CT, USA.

Summing up all the facts, made me believe that we're gonna miss a true rock legend in WENDY ORLEAN WILLIAMS. A woman, who did it all by herself from the beginning to the very end. She directed the show, that is called 'her life'. She pulled the strings until she didn't want to anymore. And even though this was a very well overthought descision, we are sure about one thing: We lost one of the most colourful Metal Maidens, that has ever existed!! I want to close this 'Back to the Past' section by saying "Thanks Wendy, we love you for every beautiful moment of heavy metal rock and roll, you brought into our lives with so many love and passion. We will never forget you, rest in peace!!

Wendy has requested not to send any flowers and that a donation to the beneath could be made in its place. So all donations in Wendy's memory can be made to:

The Quiet Corner Wildlife Center
109 Ashford Center Road
Ashford, CT 06276
USA.

written by: Toine van Poorten/copyright Metal Maidens 1998)

Discography:
(Albums/CDs)
PLASMATICS
NEW HOPE FOR THE WRETCHED ('80 Stiff America)
BEYOND THE VALLEY OF 1984 ('81 Stiff America)
METAL PRIESTESS ('81 Stiff America/EP)
COUP D'ETAT ('82 Capitol)
WENDY O. WILLIAMS
W.O.W. ('84 Passport)
KOMMANDER OF KAOS ('86 Gigasaurus)
MAGGOTS: THE RECORD ('87 Profile)
ULTRAFLY AND THE HOMETOWN GIRLS
(This is a rap album!!!)
DEFFEST! AND BADDEST! ('88 Defest Discs/Profile)
(Videos)
W.O.W. LIVE IN LONDON ('85 Embassy)
MOTORHEAD- THE BIRTHDAY PARTY ('86 Virgin); Wendy as special guest star on "No Class"