Wendy Orlean Williams (May 28, 1949 – April 6, 1998), better known as Wendy O. Williams, was an American singer, songwriter and actress. Born in Webster, New York, she first came to prominence as the lead singer of the punk rock band Plasmatics. Her infamous stage theatrics included blowing up equipment, near nudity and chain-sawing guitars. After she left home at the age of 16, Williams hitchhiked her way to Colorado, earning money by crocheting string bikinis. She later traveled to Florida and Europe landing various jobs such as lifeguard, stripper and server at Dunkin’ Donuts. When she returned to California in 1978, she began performing in live sex shows and later appeared in the adult film, Candy Goes to Hollywood (1979). That same year, she was approached by the manager Rod Swenson, who recruited her to join his newly formed punk rock band, Plasmatics. The band shortly became known on the New York City underground scene, performing at clubs such as CBGB.
After releasing three album with Plasmatics, Williams embarked on a solo career and in 1984 released her debut album, WOW. She followed with the albums Kommander of Kaos (1986) and Deffest! and Baddest! (1988), before she retired from the music industry. Williams made her screen debut in Tom DeSimone’s film Reform School Girls (1986), for which she recorded the title song. She also appeared in the 1989 comedy Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog, and television series The New Adventures of Beans Baxter and MacGyver. On April 6, 1998, Williams committed suicide near her home in Storrs, Connecticut.
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. In 1985, she was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance category during the height of her popularity as a solo artist.
Williams first attempted suicide in 1993 by hammering a knife into her chest where it lodged in her sternum. However, she changed her mind and called Swenson to take her to the hospital. She attempted suicide again in 1997 with an overdose of ephedrine. Williams died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 6, 1998, when she was 48.