LAURA KENNEDY, R.I.P.
Laura Kennedy, bass player for the iconic New York punk/funk band Bush Tetras, died yesterday in Minneapolis of complications from Hep C.
Kennedy was in the center of the musical vortex that thrived in downtown Manhattan through the 1970s and into the early 80s. It was a time in which rock and roll was stretching its wings while simultaneously banging its head against the walls and sidewalks of a city both bleak and beautiful.
The Bush Tetras pulled uptown downtown and showed the Studio 54 crowd that there was some tribal thunder brewing below 14th street and you didn’t have to beg to get in. The BTs made it clear: funk was Universal and could not be tamed or commodified. It was in our flesh and bone and in the concrete. The city’s jittery pulse ran from the Bronx to the Bowery, a visceric train on tachycardic tracks where each station crepusculated pinpoints of chakric light. The bloodbeat pinballed and banked against Time’s Square and then veered drunkenly and divinely into the throbbing core of Manhattan’s tattered rock and roll soul: CBGB.
“I remember seeing Laura jump up with her bass in some kind of rock ‘n’ roll move (which no No Wave person would ever do) and it forever blowing my mind,” Thurston Moore wrote in his book No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980. “I saw her as the coolest girl ever at that point. She certainly remains that way in my consciousness.”
And, Kennedy herself, quoted in both pieces:
“Us New York City kids from the ’80s, often transplanted from other cities, other countries, occasionally other planets (take a wild guess who I’m talking about) – we’ve kicked ass. We’ve taken names, too – and a good many of us have not only lived to tell, but are rockin’ the telling and rollin’ the living in a way that’s inspirational… We keep going, and going and going. I defy you to tell me that all of us weren’t defined by that moment in time that we shared. This has been apparent to me for a while, but more so now that we’re a decade into the oughts. We were blessed to come together in this life at a time that defined the End of a Century.”