Vixen guitarist and founder member Jan Kuehnemund dies aged 51
Jan Kuehnemund, the guitarist and founder member of pioneering all-girl rockers Vixen, died yesterday (Thursday 10 October) after a long battle with cancer.
Kuehnemund originally formed the band in St. Paul, Minnesota, before moving to Los Angeles and becoming forever associated with the burgeoning 80s rock scene. In an era of absurdly mascara’d male rockers with over-done hairdos and lipsticked pouts, Vixen were proudly female in this feminized man’s world.
Like a quartet of Krystle Carringtons in skin-tight leotards, their debut album Vixen (1988) had material from outside writers (Richard Marx among them) but successor Rev It Up (1990) was full of self-written songs, and the band seemed well placed to become the female equivalent to Bon Jovi.
Mainstream success eluded them however, and although the band landed many major supports (doing three nights at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in 1989 with The Scorpions, and four nights with Deep Purple a couple of years later), changing line-ups, musical differences and changes in rock fashions ultimately led to a split in 1991.
Kuehnemund reformed the band a decade later and continued with various line-ups since. Former Vixen members Janet Gardner, Roxy Petrucci, Share Pedersen and Gina Stile formed a band called VXN, later changed JanetShareRoxyGina (aka JSRG). JSRG broke the news via Facebook earlier today:
“On behalf of JSRG which includes the three original members of Vixen, Janet Gardner, Share Ross, Roxy Petrucci along with Gina Stile are heartbroken to announce the sudden passing of Vixen founder and lead guitarist, Jan Kuehnemund who lost a valiant battle with cancer on Thursday, October 10, 2013.
Much more than simply a brilliant guitarist and amazing songwriter, Jan was one of the kindest souls you could ever hope to meet. She remembered everyone’s birthdays and special occasions with gifts and was one of the most gracious women on the planet.
Through her year long battle with cancer, Jan was very courageous. She never complained and never gave up. The cancer beat her body but it never broke her spirit at any moment.
For those of you who wondered why Vixen never reunited, we actually did reunite.
We had resolved our differences and were whole heartedly looking forward to playing together again.
In January, 2013 only days before the announcement was to be made public, Jan was given her cancer diagnosis. She requested that we keep her illness private and out of respect for her wishes when press and fans asked us why we were not back together, we replied “it’s a matter of timing.”
Since then we’ve been in regular contact with her and offered our loving support while continually hoping to make 2014 the year of Vixen.
However, it was not meant to be.
Our condolences go out to her family. Memorial services will be announced at a later date.
Jan, you will be missed. But never forgotten.
Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”