An idol of early American goth-rock fans, Christian
Death founder Rozz Williams hanged
himself on April Fool’s Day in his West Hollywood apartment. He was
The forefather to artists such as Marilyn
Manson and Trent Reznor, Williams
recorded the first Christian Death album, Only Theatre of
Pain, at age 16. He worked on five albums with the death rock
band before 1985, when he backed out of the group for personal
“He left the band for the same reason he left life: love
situations,” said Valor Kand, a former Christian
Death band mate who took over as lead singer and copyrighted the
band’s name after Williams’ departure.
Born Roger Allen Painter on Nov. 6, 1963, the flamboyant singer
was raised in Pamona, Calif., by two born-again Christian parents.
Williams battled alcohol and heroin addiction since his mid-teens,
and perpetually struggled with his overt bisexuality and androgyny,
“He was a manic depressive,” he said. “There have been more
times than I could count that I have yanked razor blades from his
hands and ropes from around his neck, and stopped him from killing
other people with knives. I think this was the way he wanted to go,
it was his destiny.”
A tarot card titled “The Hangman is a Fool” was reportedly
discovered near Williams’ body by his roommate and musical
collaborator Ryan Gaumer last Wednesday. Williams
left no suicide note, but Kand said he believed heartbreak and
alcohol played a large part in his death.
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However, Bruce Duff, who worked closely with
Williams at Triple X Records, said his suicide
came as a complete surprise.
“I saw the guy 10 days before he died and he was laughing and
having a great time,” Duff said. “Obviously there was
something wrong. Rozz had a tendency to not think his
actions all of the way through.”
During the early 1990s, Williams performed with alternative hard
rockers Shadow Project and Premature
Ejaculation before launching an eclectic solo career.
Within the last few years he had released a bluesy cabaret album
with singer Gitane Demone called Dream Home
Heartache, as well as Whorses’ Mouth and Every
King a Bastard Son, two brooding spoken-word albums inspired
by his personal and musical hero, David Bowie.
At the time of his death, Williams was awaiting the release of
From the Heart, the next Shadow Project
album due out this month, and organizing a hard rock band with
Triple X Records.