The Parting Gift Plasmatics’ Wendy O. Williams Left To Rod Swenson

Plasmatics lead singer Wendy O. Williams built a reputation for her extravagant live performances. Her shows with the band included nudity, exploding stage props, chainsawing guitars, and many more. Williams’ theatrics didn’t end with her concerts; she also performed her stunts in music videos, carrying her attitude on every platform with her iconic mohawk hairstyle and signature clothes.

Though her fashion choices and onstage acts drew attention, the Plasmatics frontwoman also gained attributes for her vocals. During her popularity as a solo artist, she was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1985. Still, the singer’s successful career didn’t contribute to her struggles in life, particularly her deep depression and suicidal tendencies.

In 1993, Williams first attempted suicide by stabbing herself in the chest, during which her breastbone saved her life. In addition, the singer changed her mind after stabbing herself and called her boyfriend, Rod Swenson, to take her to the hospital. Four years later, the musician attempted suicide again and overdosed on ephedrine, an attempt from which she was saved.

Unfortunately, Wendy O. Williams eventually killed herself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 6, 1998, when she was 48. Meanwhile, the Plasmatics founder and her longtime partner returned to their home and later found her body in the woods after looking through a package she had left for him. Inside that package, Rod Swenson found the noodles he liked, a packet of seeds for growing garden greens, some Oriental massage balm, and sealed letters from his late girlfriend.

These letters contained a love letter to Swenson, many to-do lists, and a suicide note. In one of these letters, Williams penned, “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.”

In a 1998 interview with the Columbian, Rod Swenson opened up about his partner’s decision to take her life. He said, “Wendy’s act was not an irrational in-the-moment act,” as the musician had attempted suicide twice and left a note, making clear that she thought her actions through before making the final call.

Before taking her life, Williams gave Swenson her last gift and left this world. Following the singer’s passing, many artists, including Joey Ramone of the Ramones and Lemmy Kilmister, paid tribute to Wendy. Lemmy even dedicated the song ‘No Class’ from the band’s live album ‘Everything Louder than Everyone Else’ to the late vocalist.