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R.I.P. Laura Kennedy of Bush Tetras

November 17, 2011

Laura Kennedy, the original bassist of the Bush Tetras and “the coolest girl ever,” according to Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, passed away on Monday in Minneapolis.

Kennedy moved to the Twin Cities in 1999 to live with her girlfriend, after having spent many years in New York. “Us New York City kids from the ’80s,” she blogged last year, “often transplanted from other cities, other countries, occasionally other planets (take a wild guess who I’m talking about)…we were blessed to come together in this life at a time that defined the End of a Century.”

It was during this time that the Bush Tetras gained recognition in the New York club scene – lead guitarist Pat Place recalled, “the clubs were this breeding ground, ripe for creativity.” The band’s biggest hit, “Too Many Creeps,” was released in 1980, and made the college top-ten charts. The song places Kennedy’s jagged bass line alongside the young-girl vocals of lead singer Cynthia Sley, who repeats over and over again, “I just don’t wanna go out in the streets no more…it’s the worst, it’s the worst, it’s the worst.”

Kennedy lived for 25 years with hepatitis C, the complications of which eventually led to liver failure. She received a transplant at the University of Minnesota in 2008, and continued to live on both disability and assistance from friends. In early 2009, the Bush Tetras played a reunion show in the Twin Cities – their first in 25 years – as one in a series of fundraisers to help pay Kennedy’s medical bills (which were not covered by her disability insurance). The band was joined by the Suicide Commandos, David Thomas of Pere Ubu and Skoal Kodiak. –Emma Nelson

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