RIP Kim Shattuck — Legendary Muffs And Pixies Singer Dead At 56

Photo: Instagram
How Did Kim Shattuck Die? New Details On Death Of Muffs And Pixies Singer At 56

It’s a sad day in music. Kim Shattuck, legendary punk rock singer, songwriter and guitarist for The Muffs, The Pandoras, The Coolies and briefly the Pixies has died. She was just 56. Shattuck was one of the prominent faces in the Los Angeles punk rock scene for decades. She co-founded and fronted the punk band the Muffs in the 1990s. Her Muffs bandmates Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald took to Facebook to pay tribute to their friend. 

“We are very sorry to announce the passing of our bandmate and dear friend Kim Shattuck. Besides being a brilliant songwriter, rocking guitarist and singer/screamer extraordinaire, Kim was a true force of nature. While battling ALS, Kim produced our last album, overseeing every part of the record from tracking to artwork. She was our best friend and playing her songs was an honor. Goodbye Kimba. We love you more than we could ever say.”

How did Kim Shattuck die?

1. ALS

Kim Shattuck had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease for the past two years. ALS is characterized by stiff muscles, muscle twitches, and gradually weakening muscles that grows worse over time. Most ALS sufferers eventually have difficulty speaking and swallowing. Patients with this disease eventually lose the ability to walk, speak, use their hands, swallow, and breathe. Shattuck passed away from complications of this neurodegenerative disease.

Shattuck’s husband, Kevin Sutherland wrote: “This morning, the love of my life passed peacefully in her sleep after a two-year struggle with ALS,” Shattuck’s husband. I am the man I am today because of her. She will live with all of us through her music, our shared memories and in her fierce, creative spirit.”‘

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2. Early Life

Kim Shattuck was born on July 17, 1963 in Los Angeles. She picked up the guitar as a young girl in love with the Beatles, the Kinks, The Who and Blondie and her path was set. It was actually the Bangles’ Susannah Hoffs that inspired her to learn guitar. In a 2011 interview with Guitar World, Kim spoke about her early days of songwriting in the 1980s, saying: “It was the late ’80s. I was still in the Pandoras and I was not liking the direction of the band after a while — it was too metal. Everything that was popular then in Los Angeles was starting to irritate the shit out of me. I was getting really bummed. Stuff like the Red Hot Chili Peppers were happening and I was like, ‘I fucking hate them so much, I have to write the anti-Red Hot Chili Peppers songs’. It was so clear to me what I wanted people to write, and they weren’t. Melodically, I could see the chord pattern in my head, and I could hear it, and I knew where I wanted it to go. So I was like, I just gotta write songs, cause no one’s writing the song I want to hear.”

3. Clueless — where you probably know her from

Remember the opening of the movie Clueless, a punk rock cover of Kim Wilde’s 1981 hit “Kids in America” plays over scenes of Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz. That voice and guitar you hear is Kim Shattuck and her band The Muffs. NME reports that Shattuck’s cover was almost scrapped for No Doubt’s “Just a Girl,” which was brand new at the time. But director Amy Heckerling made a promise to Kim Shattuck and the Muffs and their cover of “Kids in America” made the final cut. 

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4. The Muffs

Shattuck was first a member of the all-female band The Pandoras in the 1980s. She played bass. In 1991, she formed the Muffs and transitioned to guitar for the iconic punk band The Muffs. She had started writing her own songs and didn’t feel like she had any say in the direction of The Pandoras. The keyboardist Melanie Vammen had been fired against Kim’s wishes so she and Vammen formed The Muffs with Kim’s then boyfriend Ronnie Barnett. The Muffs went on to dominate college radio stations in the 1990s and released six albums, 1995’s Blonder and Blonder, 1997’s Happy Birthday to Me, 1999’s Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow, 2004’s Really Really Happy, 2014’s Whoop Dee Doo. The Muff’s seventh studio album, No Holiday, will be released on October 18.

5. Her brief time in the Pixies

In 2013, Kim Shattuck briefly replaced Kim Deal in The Pixies. She left the band later that same year. In an interview with NME, Shattuck surmised that the reason she was asked to leave the Pixies is because of a now infamous stage dive she took at the Mayan Theatre show in L.A. She said: “I know they weren’t thrilled about that. When I got offstage, the manager told me not to do that again. I said, ‘Really, for my own safety?’ And he said, ‘No, because the Pixies don’t do that.’”

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Regardless of how Shattuck felt, the Pixies posted a tribute to their former bandmate on Twitter. “We are devastated about Kim's passing. She was a genuine musician, writer and performer who committed her life for the cause. She brought all of her life force to her endeavors and we are fortunate for her sharing some of that life force with us. RIP.”

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6. Tributes to her from the music industry

Tributes to Kim Shattuck are rolling in across social media. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong took to his Instagram to write: “So sad to hear the news about Kim. She was always so cool and tough. All my interactions with her were great. She was one of my favorite song writers. When we recorded dookie we listened to the first Muffs record constantly. We will hear that rock n roll scream from heaven.”

Veruca Salt took to Twitter to post: “Heartbroken about Kim. One of the all-time greats. How could anyone be such a brilliant pop songwriter, singer, screamer, and such a total punk-rock badass, and be so insanely cute at the same time? No one funnier or cooler. We love you, Kim.”

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer and editor covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.