Jan Kuehnemund, guitarist and founding member of glam-metal pioneers Vixen, has died after what was deemed a “fierce battle” with cancer. Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Kuehnemund started Vixen while still in high school, eventually relocating to Los Angeles in 1981. She was 51.
From the Vixen Facebook page, “It is with profound sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Vixen founder and lead guitarist, Jan Kuehnemund, who lost a fierce battle with cancer on Thursday, October 10, 2013. Though most well known for her gifted guitar playing and other musical talents, Jan was a rare friend and beautiful in every sense of the word. Humble, thoughtful, loyal and kind, she was the most gracious of women, possessing the quiet strength of a true warrior. She genuinely loved and appreciated her friends and fans more than most could ever know. Those who were most fortunate to have known her and loved her are heartbroken at the loss of Jan, whose spirit will shine through her music eternally.”
Although the band was active in the L.A. metal and rock scenes through the ’80s, it took until 1988 for Vixen to break through with their debut self-titled album, which boasted two top 40 singles: ‘Edge of a Broken Heart’ and ‘Cryin” Tour dates with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and Bon Jovi followed, as well as a second LP ‘Rev It Up,’ before the band split in 1991 over musical differences.
Kuehnemund eventually reformed Vixen in 2001, seeing it through a number of lineup changes and co-writing all the original songs on the band’s fourth LP ‘Live & Learn,’ released in 2006.