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Bianca's sisterKelly Spencer
Sr. Director of A&R - Foodchain RecordsBlare N. Bitch
Betty Blowtorch guitaristScott Milano
Owner, Foodchain RecordsJeremy "Remo" Thompson
Nashville Pussy drummerKevin Baldes
Hello. My name is Kevin. I've been friends with Bianca since about the middle of 1998. I was introduced by an old friend I grew up with. Meeting Bianca for the first time was a little intimidating. I'd heard stories of her on-stage banter towards unruly crowds. That, along with her tattoo-biker-punk image did not paint a friendly picture. That was all very misleading. In the few years of knowing Bianca, she quickly rose to the top of my list of the kindest, sweetest, caring, and giving people I'd ever know.
One story comes to mind that really illustrates what a beautiful person Bianca was. It was a hot December day in Burbank, California. I was working on the set of a TV show when I got a call. On the other end was this scratchy voice asking, "What'cha doing Squish?" Squish was her nick name for me. I'll miss it dearly. I replied that I was just sitting around. She asked if I'd meet her out front. I said sure. When she pulled up she asked if I'd come around to the passenger side of her car. I opened the door to find three new born puppies on the floor. Each puppy had at least a hundred fleas. Bianca began telling me how she ended up with the pups. She had just gone to the pound to visit. The puppies she had were to be destroyed that day. Being the animal lover she is, she couldn't let that happen. Adopting animals and caring for them is not cheap. Bianca at times could barely feed herself. That didn't matter to her. There were animal lives at risk. She didn't adopt them to keep them, but to just clean them up and find them good homes. And that's just what she did. She used money she didn't have and lots of personal time to save these puppies. Knowing Bianca has inspired me to try to be a lot more caring and giving. I hope that whoever reads this story will get the same inspiration from it. That would mean Biancas beautiful energy would still be helping to make this world a better place.
As Bianca was growing up she was such a ray of light. Sweet, cute as hell, fun to be with and sharp as a tack (some things don't change). She was not always self-assured, and quite often said she considered herself a dork, but she always had the coolest friends and managed to do the coolest shit. She demanded it. She was not satisfied with the ordinary. She made things special. And part of her gift was making others feel special. Bianca made friends easily. Of course she had the regular girlfriends down the street, but I'll never forget when the transvestite dancer who worked at the Queen Mary moved into the neighborhood, she made friends with him too.
The most significant thing to me about Bianca is that she was born to love, and shine that love on all whom she met. She even had love and compassion for those who betrayed that love, when they showed any kind of remorse and desire to change. I believe that the profound hurt inflicted on her in her life, especially by those she trusted the most, proved to make her stronger, more humble and a more compassionate human being. It made her reach out to those she recognized as feeling the kind of anguish she was so familiar with. Ironically, she often had trouble seeing the love and admiration people had for her. My prayer is that she is seeing it and believing it now. I have rarely seen the kind of love and appreciation expressed about anyone, than I have seen expressed for her, by those who knew and loved her. She had the rare ability to transform and elevate people's lives and self-concepts... and she entertained us too! I feel blessed to have her as my sister.
We toured with Betty Blowtorch for six weeks and I was lucky enough to get to know Bianca very well during that time. It didn't take me long to realize how special she and that she was a very way cool person. I was wearing a Spiderman shirt one day so she went out and bought me not one, not three, but two pairs of Spiderman socks, a metal Spiderman tin filled with mints & a huge inflatable Spiderman. She also "redecorated" one of our vans with eggs, shaving cream and pie!
She will always have a special place in my heart. I miss you, Bianca. Now make God rock!!
Jeremy "Remo" Thompson
Bianca... You always asked me to make you a rock star. It still makes me laugh, you kook! You were so there long before I ever met you... You had this huge, undeniable amazing presence on-stage and off. You embodied everything great about rock n' roll ... in all its glitter, guts and glory. I was always so proud of you. You could have a 102 temperature and be working on like one hour of sleep, but you never failed to throw one hell of a party up there. You always delivered. You had swagger and you owned that stage.
Rockstar aside... you are, without question, the most interesting person I've ever known. I loved listening to your stories... although sometimes I had to take a minute to pick my jaw up off the floor! And for all you knew and everywhere you've been and all that you were, you were incredibly humble and unassuming. You were the coolest chick on the planet but you didn't have one judgemental bone in your body. I loved that about you. (Um, speaking of cool, thanks for dressing me. You were right... now when I bust out my pre-Bianca pants I thought were so great, I do feel like a bit like Don Knotts!) There was so much to you, B. You were a hilarious, wise-cracking, foul-mouthed, bad-ass little fireball that would blurt out the raunchiest things off the top of your head in interviews. You were also an incredibly loving, adorable, empathetic, sensitive, nuturing, sweetheart of a friend. A self-proclaimed "marshmallow" who would crack me up with spewing out grandma lines like "good grief!" "good lord!" "that's the monkey's pajamas!" and who loved to whip up an elaborate six course meal and a bubble bath (with Barry White on the 8-track) for a buddy in need.
You had a huge heart and lived your life honestly and with integrity. The way you lived... and the person you were... will never cease to inspire me. It was a total blast to work with you and an honor to be your friend. I love you, B., and I'll think of you and miss you forever. I'm struggling to make sense of why you had to be taken from us so soon. I like to think that maybe you just needed a bigger stage. Rock on, superstar.
Kelly Spencer introduced me to Betty Blowtorch over coffee early one morning at SXSW '99. I asked the girls what they were up to that day and Bianca, grinning ear to ear, said: "Why, we're playing in Topeka, Kansas tonight." I asked if she was really happy about driving 700 miles in one day, and she said: "Yeah, we're happy as clams, bearded clams!" That's when I knew we had to sign this band. Not only was Bianca great looking and outrageously funny, she was thrilled to spend ten hours in a van to play in front of maybe 200 people - a genuine road warrior! Little did I know how hard this band really rocked, what a great record they would make, and what a uniquely gifted musician-singer-songwriter, a true original, Bianca was. She was such a magnificent contradiction: a wicked rocker capable of burning the house down on any particular night, and yet one of sweetest, most unassuming and generous people I've ever known - a great friend. I truly miss you, girl.
I remember when Bianca played her first gig. It was with Maynard's band Sin about 10 years ago. She was so nervous that her mom had to coax her onto the stage. Well the first few songs went pretty good and then came the song that she started. I took the mic and announced that this was Bianca's first gig and she was really nervous and she was going to start the next song. She gave me a look that practically knocked me over. By the third time trying she was able to get through the intro and into the song. Bianca was one of the most determined people I knew. Bianca was an artist, she decorated, painted, set designed, cooked fabulous meals, she had style & class and of course there was music. With all of her talents she loved rock & roll the most. She was born to rock. It was in her heart & her soul, it was her dream and we shared that dream together. There is a big hole where Bianca once was in my life but she lives on in my heart & soul. I love you Bianca and I will miss you always.
Blare N. Bitch
Photo Montage from Service
Singer is killed in I-10 collision
Punk musician dies 3 hours after show
12/16/01by Gwen Filosa
The lead singer of an up-and-coming metal punk band was killed Saturday when the Corvette in which she was riding spun out of control into oncoming traffic on Interstate 10 near Causeway Boulevard and was virtually sliced in half, state police said.
Bianca Halstead, frontwoman and bassist for the irreverent all-female quartet Betty Blowtorch, had finished a show at the Howlin' Wolf about 2 a.m. when she and the band purportedly headed out for food, bar owner Howie Kaplan said.
She died about 3 hours later, when [Brian] McAllister of Burbank, [Illinois], lost control of his 1986 Corvette and spun into oncoming traffic [Note: In the original story, the driver was misidentified as William R. McAllister of Burbank, Ca.]. He had been drinking and was driving faster than 100 mph, state police said.
Halstead was pronounced dead at the scene. She was 36.
Police could not say where Halstead and McAllister were going or how they knew each other. Kaplan, who had just met McAllister at the show, said the band was traveling by van.
"We gave them some cookies. My mom bakes cookies for all the bands, and they said, 'We'll have these after we eat,' " Kaplan said.
McAllister was in surgery at East Jefferson Hospital on Saturday and remained in critical condition by nightfall. He faces a number of criminal charges in connection with the fatal accident, which is still under investigation.
"Charges are definitely pending," said Trooper Todd Marchand.
McAllister was traveling westbound near the Causeway interchange when he swerved out of the left lane and struck a car on his right. The car's driver, Jacquelyn Hampton, 35, of Kenner, was not injured. The Corvette then spun through the median into the path of an eastbound Mitsubishi.
The impact killed the musician instantly, police said. The driver of the Mitsubishi, Robert Fenkel, 50, of Colorado Springs, Colo., also was taken to the Metairie hospital. He was listed in serious condition late Saturday.
Club owner Kaplan said he spent Saturday trying to absorb the news and get in touch with Halstead's bandmates. "I've never lost a band before," he said.
A native of Los Angeles, Halstead grew up watching early 1980s punk bands in Hollywood. In the 1990s, she decided to get into the act and joined a series of musical groups.
Betty Blowtorch was formed in 1998 and released its debut album, "Are You Man Enough," on Foodchain Records in May. The label cheerfully touted the musicians as "four foul-mouthed, power-tool-crazy rock 'n' roll hussies," and the women happily embodied the in-your-face, profane, heavy metal prototype. They had been touring hard lately and had planned to play a Houston club Saturday night and then at another in Austin, Texas, according to the band's Web site. New Year's Eve, the band was booked to play Los Angeles' grittily fabled Whiskey A-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip.
In a recent interview with the New Times in Los Angeles, Halstead, who goes by the stage name Bianca Butthole, said this was probably going to be her last band. "So I'm going to get as many good memories as I possibly can before I hang it up," she said.
Gwen Filosa can be reached at email@example.com or (504) 826-3304.
Article reprinted from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Bianca Halstead 1965-2001
December 21 - 27, 2001by Lina Lecaro
"Every bad girl has a soft side," Bianca Halstead, a.k.a. Bianca Butthole, recently told me as she described the fond 'n' funny power ballad about the '80s metal scene called "Big Hair, Broken Heart" on her band Betty Blowtorch's album Are You Man Enough? Of course, anyone who'd ever come in contact with Bianca already knew that. She may have been a tough, tattooed chick who shamelessly sang about beer, boys and body parts, but there was a sweetness and humor behind everything she did and said. That big ol' heart tat on her chest was there for a reason.
On Saturday, December 15, around 5:30 a.m., after a show with tour mates Nashville Pussy in New Orleans, Bianca took a ride with a friend in his Corvette. Reportedly, the driver was speeding, lost control, spun around and was sideswiped by another car on Bianca's side. She was killed instantly. There have been reports that the driver was intoxicated, but Bianca was sober and had been for several years. The Bronx, New Yorkborn, Studio City, Californiaraised musician left behind ex-husband Andrew Halstead, parents Jerry and Angele Woolery, sisters Selina Smith and Victoria Roberts, brother Andrew Wilson and countless admirers.
After making her mark in bands such as the punk outfit Butt Trumpet and Humble Gods, Bianca formed Betty Blowtorch with Trumpet guitarists Sharon Needles and Blare N. Bitch and Bobsled drummer Judy Molish. Guns N' Roses' Duff McKagan became a fan and produced their EP Get Off in '99, and they won Best Punk/Hardcore Band at this publication's music awards show the following year.
In 2001, the band's hard work was finally starting to pay off. They released their Foodchain debut, which got lots of attention in part for its guest appearance by Vanilla Ice on the raunchy romp "Size Queen," and the band was seen on the big screen in the dark comedy Bubble Boy. Soon after, they scored a tour with similarly rowdy rockers Nashville Pussy, and were on the road when, about a month ago, Sharon and Judy suddenly left the band.
On the phone from her tour van just after the breakup, Bianca was down but not out. She said she was sad but trying "to make the best of a bad situation," and she vowed to "keep the rock alive no matter what." She'd called in her old pal, former L7 bassist Jennifer Finch, and had a friend of Nashville's sit in on drums for the rest of tour. Their hometown New Year's Eve gig at the Whisky a Go-Go was to feature former Lunachicks drummer Becky Wreck. The sad irony is that a feature I wrote about the band to correspond with that show had been scheduled for this issue of the L.A. Weekly.
From her stint behind the counter at Melrose rock-clothing emporium Serious (where she helped even us gals with bodies not nearly as perfect as hers squeeze into the same kind of scandalously low-rise jeans she always wore - and feel good about it) to her band's amazing performances (the early ones in Silver Lake and Hollywood, which featured fire-wielding goth babes, and more recent ones on the Strip and at the Pretty Ugly Club, where friends and fans always crowded near the stage, head-bangin' and bowing to the singer-bassist like the goddess she was), Bianca was an unforgettable force whose ballsy stage persona and kind-hearted offstage manner - not to mention kick-ass music - should be an inspiration for girl- and guy-rockers to come.
In the words of one of her tunes: B., you really rocked our world.
Article reprinted from the L.A. Weekly.
A Tribute to Singer of Betty Blowtorch
Monday, December 24, 2001by Lina Lecaro, Special to The Los Angeles Times
A life-size cardboard cutout of Bianca Halstead in a rock-star pose was placed in the middle of the stage at the Dragonfly early Saturday evening, while the sounds of her favorite bands--AC/DC, Queen, Guns N' Roses--played in the background.
It was a fitting tribute to the exuberant singer and bassist of the band Betty Blowtorch, who died a week earlier in a car accident in New Orleans, after a show there.
Loved ones and fans packed the Hollywood club for a public memorial following private services for the 36-year-old performer, whose rambunctious music melded humor with aggressive metal and punk influences.
With its debut album "Are You Man Enough?," the female quartet was just starting to emerge from the tight-knit L.A. hard-rock scene, where bands such as Texas Terri & the Stiff Ones, Motochrist and the Newlydeads regularly pack the Dragonfly, the Garage and other clubs, celebrating sheer volume and excess in a way the city hasn't seen since the '80s glam-metal era.
The wild lifestyle that Betty Blowtorch glorified is very much alive in this flamboyant world, but for many, especially more seasoned musicians, the tough, hard-partying stage persona is just that. Despite lyrics that might suggest otherwise, Halstead had been clean for more than a decade.
"She was one of the most beautiful, loving, caring creatures on the planet," flame-haired singer Texas Terri said Saturday. "She ... is an inspiration to anyone that thought to be sober is to be boring."
Indeed, Halstead was an undeniable presence in Hollywood, as was evident by the giant photo collages displayed on stage Saturday showing her with friends and fellow musicians.
Saturday' gathering also featured outtakes from filmmaker Anthony Scarpa's documentary about the band, but it was at last week's three-year anniversary event for the Dragonfly's weekly rock night Pretty Ugly that Halstead's fun-loving spirit was most evident. As her parents sat in a booth, holding her ashes in a KISS lunchbox, peers and pals sang Betty Blowtorch tunes such as "Rock My World" and passed around a collection jar to raise money for her burial.
The usually boisterous night took on a bittersweet tone, suggesting that Halstead's passing will impact this scene for a long time.
"She made music on her own terms," friend and fellow musician Casper said Saturday. "She was the epitome of what this li'l community is about."
Article reprinted from the Los Angeles Times.
Freek Show bids farewell to a girl with balls.
December 27, 2001by Jim Freek
And finally, holiday festivities this past week were put on hold indefinitely as the local music scene mourned the loss of one of its most cherished and respected contributors. As a fucked-up finale to a year that's already bypassed the boundaries of tragedy on way too many occasions, Betty Blowtorch vocalist/bassist Bianca Halstead (affectionately known throughout the rock community as Bianca Butthole) was killed just outside New Orleans during the early morning hours of Saturday, December 15, when the car she was riding in spun out of control and into oncoming traffic. Appropriately enough, the song chosen to play during her cremation service -- held in New Orleans -- was AC/DC's "She's Got Balls." On Monday, an overwhelming number of friends and fans turned up to the Serious clothing store on Melrose (where Bianca had worked) for a small memorial ceremony. The usually rowdy 'n' rollicking Pretty Ugly Club celebrated its third anniversary on Wednesday at the Dragonfly, but even in the confines of this gilded palace of sex and sin, the gutter-glam vibe was replaced by an overall ambience of anger and sorrow as practically everyone was overheard gushing about their fondness for Bianca. Even her parents (as well as those of Blowtorch guitarist Blare N. Bitch) showed up to the club, clutching Bianca's ashes in a box which, Freek Show was told later by a family friend, were going to be transferred to a Kiss thermos. Throughout the night, performers such as Coyote Shivers, Texas Terri, Motochrist and club host Taime Downe (who was seen fronting both his trash/techno thing the Newlydeads as well as reformed Sunset Strip party machine Faster Pussycat), temporarily downplayed their raunch 'n' roll personas in order to pay tribute to their departed friend by covering Betty Blowtorch tunes or simply saying a few nice words. In the end, it was Taime who left us with the most lasting impression of the night, when, in a moment of pure melancholia, he called Bianca "my favorite butthole." Ours too.
Article is an excerpt reprinted from the New Times LA.
Blowtorch Singer Killed
Bianca Halstead dies in car accident
12/18/01Betty Blowtorch frontwoman Bianca Halstead was killed on December 15th in a car accident near New Orleans. She was thirty-six.
Halstead, who performed as Bianca Butthole for the up-and-coming female punk quartet, was the passenger in a 1986 Corvette that spun into oncoming traffic at about 5 a.m. on Saturday at a speed believed to be in excess of 100 miles-per-hour. Earlier that evening, Halstead and Betty Blowtorch performed at the Howlin' Wolf in New Orleans, where they shared a bill with tourmates Nashville Pussy. According to police, [Brian] McAllister was behind the wheel and had been drinking prior to the accident [Note: In the original story, the driver was misidentified as William R. McAllister of Burbank, Ca.]. He survived the wreck, but underwent surgery over the weekend and will likely face criminal charges.
In the early Nineties, Halstead performed as a singer and bassist in Los Angeles punk ensemble Butt Trumpet before departing with two other members -- guitarists Blare N. Bitch and Sharon Needles -- to form Betty Blowtorch three years ago. The group released its debut, Are You Man Enough?, in June.
While on tour with Nashville Pussy (which kicked off in early-November), Betty Blowtorch imploded. After their November 16th gig in Atlantic Beach, N.C., Needles and drummer Judy Molish effectively quit and disappeared with the group's gear. Halstead and Bitch quickly rallied by recruiting L7 guitarist Jennifer Finch and a temporary replacement on drums.
"Bianca was wonderful. She had a great sense of humor, which is rare today in rock," Poison drummer and friend Rikki Rocket said. "In spite of her image, she was a loving, humble, kind soul who would totally go out of her way for people . . . She wanted to make people rock, smile and forget."
Article is reprinted from Rolling Stone.
Coolgrrls.com end of year report
12/30/01by Miss Kastle
Well, I have the unfortunate task of writing yet another obit this year. Bianca Halstead (aka Bianca Butthole) lead singer and bass player for the Los Angeles hard rock band Betty Blowtorch was killed in an automobile accident in New Orleans in the early morning hours of December 15. The incident occurred following the band's show while on tour with Nashville Pussy. Reportedly, Bianca accepted a ride home from [Brian] McAllister of Burbank [Illinois] who lost control of his '86 Corvette and went speeding into oncoming traffic [Note: In the original story, the driver was misidentified as William McAllister of Burbank, Ca.]. According to police, the car was going close to 100 mph and McAllister is suspected to have been under the influence at the time. He is currently facing criminal charges.
I have written about Betty Blowtorch many times in this column. They were by far one of the best all-female rock bands around. Though word has it, the band suffered internal problems during the Nashville Pussy tour and two members unceremoniously left the group. Nonetheless, I had the great pleasure of writing them up for the New Times Awards this fall and I last saw Bianca doing a rockin' duet with Taime Downe at the Pretty Ugly Club for Downe's birthday party. I thought Bianca was one of the toughest, coolest front ladies around. The 36 year-old New York native was well known on LA the scene, not only for all the band's awesome performances but also as a sales clerk at the Serious store on Melrose Ave. Betty Blowtorch did an in-store show this year for Serious's annual Fourth of July party. In addition, she was known as a sweetheart of a girl and a damn fine cook to boot. (Who knew!)
A couple of days following the news of her death, friends gathered at the Serious store in her memory. Candles were lit all around the storefront with giant posters of the band and snapshots of Bianca displayed in the window cases. Those on hand to pay respects included Pretty Ugly Club's Taime Downe and JD, Coyote Shivers, members of Bubble, New Disease, the Blessing, Pleasure Seekers, Johnnie Nixon of Star Shoes, Paul Black, Vinnie Stiletto, Drew of Lip Service, LA Times columnist Heidi Siegmund Cuda, club promoters Dayle Gloria and Ricky Vodka, Texas Terri, Serious Clothing reps Magnes, Karen, Eric and Casper as well as a slew of others from the Hollywood rock scene. Everyone hugged, cried, signed memory books and shared stories. Many talked about how they would get tattoos in her honor.
Other tributes took place later that week at the Pretty Ugly Club's 3-year anniversary where most everyone had memories to share. That following weekend, Dragonfly held its own memorial gathering following the family's private funeral services.
In a feat of modern technology for those who may have been unable to attend Bianca's funeral, a live web cast was posted on www.forevernetwork.com. Also see the Chapel Tribute for a video montage of Bianca. Goodbyes to everyone's favorite Betty have been posted everywhere from the ads in the Dragonfly and Whisky a Go-Go listings and articles in all the major local papers. It was clear how loved this "Cool Grrrl" was in the rock community.
Bianca's family has asked that all donations be made to Narcotics Anonymous, who helped her stay sober for over 10 years.
She's one rocker who will be greatly missed. My condolences go out to her family and friends.
To all, have a safe and happy new year. Make a new year's resolution to live every moment to its fullest.
Love-In for Late Singer of Betty Blowtorch
January 3, 2002by Heidi Siegmund Cuda
L.A.'s rock 'n' roll community pulled together on New Year's Eve to celebrate the life of Betty Blowtorch's Bianca Halstead, and, truly, love is an amazing thing. Her family was in the house as the Whisky paid tribute to Halstead, who died in a car wreck in New Orleans last month. Texas Terri, who dedicated her entire set to the female rock band by blazing through Betty Blowtorch songs, set the evening's tone by leading the crowd in a Hindu chant.
The veteran rocker was joined by Betty Blowtorch guitarist Blaire, who shredded with unbridled passion. The grand finale, "Hell on Wheels," was a rock 'n' roll love-in, with a gang of Hollywood rockers onstage singing their hearts out. You guys have class....
Article is an excerpt reprinted from the Los Angeles Times.