Kim Shattuck, the singer and guitarist who co-founded and led the SoCal punk band the Muffs alongside contributions to Pixies and NOFX, died Wednesday at the age of 56. A rep for Shattuck’s band the Coolies confirmed her death to Rolling Stone. The cause was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“We are very sorry to announce the passing of our bandmate and dear friend Kim Shattuck,” the Muffs’ Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald wrote on Facebook. “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.”
“This morning, the love of my life passed peacefully in her sleep after a two-year struggle with ALS,” Shattuck’s husband, Kevin Sutherland, wrote. “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.”‘
Melanie Vammen, Shattuck’s bandmate in the Pandoras, the Muffs and the Coolies, shared Sutherland’s message, writing, “My heart is forever broken.” The Coolies’ Palmyra Delran wrote, “So grateful for her friendship. RIP Sweetest Soul.”
“We are devastated about Kim’s passing,” Pixies tweeted. “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.”
“She was always so cool and tough,” Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong added on Instagram. “All my interactions with her were great. She was one of my favorite songwriters. When we recorded Dookie, we listened to the first Muffs record constantly. We will hear that rock n roll scream from heaven.”
Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile recalled playing with Shattuck to Rolling Stone: “In 2014, my band Sex Stains had the honor of playing on the same lineup as the Muffs at Burger-a-Go-Go. Not that it’s a competition, but when Kim Shattuck came out on stage, she put on the most impressive performance of the night, hands-down,” Wolfe said. “She rocked the hardest, had the best stage presence, looked the best doing it, and made it look easy. I stood there watching with my mouth open in awe. It made me so happy to see this woman close-ish to my age, refusing to be put out to pasture and absolutely ruling it on stage, in music, and in life.”
A punk at heart, Shattuck cut her teeth playing bass in California hard rock band the Pandoras. Following their dissolution in 1990, she went on to form the SoCal punk band the Muffs. As lead singer-guitarist, Shattuck permeated the college radio waves with her inimitable, bratty snarl. The band’s polished pop-punk melodies suddenly became ubiquitous in the mid-Nineties, after they refashioned Kim Wilde’s 1981 hit “Kids in America” for the 1995 film Clueless, and released their breakout album Blonder and Blonder that same year.
The Muffs went on to release 1997’s Happy Birthday to Me, 1999’s Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow, and 2004’s Really Really Happy. In 2001, Shattuck formed side project the Beards with Lisa Marr and Sherri Sollinger and they released Funtown in 2002.
Shattuck moonlighted as a guest vocalist for many other punk acts: she joined NOFX in their Punk in Drublic cut, “Lori Meyers,” the Dollyrots on their track “Some Girls” and Bowling For Soup’s 2009 song, “I’ll Always Remember You (That Way).” “Beyond speechless right now with this news,” the Dollyrots tweeted. “Kim, thank you for being our big sister in the scene, for always supporting our art, for singing on our records and playing shows together. Total heartbreak with this news. Everyone, play your Muffs records tonight.”
In 2013, Shattuck would replace Kim Deal as bassist in the Pixies but would depart from the group later that year. In an interview with NME, Shattuck speculated that the band dismissed her for taking a stage dive at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles. “I know they weren’t thrilled about that,” she said. “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.’”
The Muffs reunited in 2014 to produce their first album in 10 years, titled Whoop Dee Doo. The band is slated to release their upcoming album, No Holiday, on October 18th. Earlier this year she and the Coolies released the 6-song EP Uh Oh! It’s… The Coolies. All proceeds from the EP benefitted the ALS Association Golden West Chapter.
While Shattuck did not disclose her own diagnosis in recent interviews, she discussed why the Coolies were donating the proceeds of the EP to the ALS organization. “It runs in my dad’s side of the family and it is so sad to watch it hit a great deal of my family members,” she told the Prelude Press. In an interview with Vents magazine, she added that the “disease is a mystery to just about every scientist! We are definitely interested in finding a cure for ALS! Cure it already!”
“Heartbroken about Kim,” Veruca Salt, the alt-rock group who scored hits with “Seether” and “Volcano Girls,” tweeted. “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.”
The Muffs – “Oh Nina”
The Muffs – “Lucky Guy”
NOFX – “Lori Meyers”
Bowling for Soup – “I’ll Always Remember You (That Way)”