Ex-Christian Death singer Rozz Williams, who -- whether he liked it or not -- was an icon for the American contingent of the goth-rock movement, committed suicide by hanging himself in his West Hollywood apartment last Wednesday, according to a label representative. He was 34 years old.
Williams, whose birth name was Roger Painter, had battled a heroin addiction during his life; he was discovered by his roommate and musical collaborator Ryan Gaumer, said Bruce Duff of the label Williams recorded for, Triple-X records.
When SonicNet Music News spoke to Williams more than a year ago, he had just issued an impressive spoken-word with music piece written with Gaumer called The Whorses' Mouth, which dealt with the singer's heroin addiction.
Williams had provided vocals for the hard-rocking Christian Death since he was a teen-ager, and the band's classic Only Theatre of Pain was released when the singer was only 16. He also performed in the bands Shadow Project, and Premature Ejaculation.
During his career, Williams expressed frustration with his audience for artistically straitjacketing him in spite of his oft-proven ability to embrace a Bowie-esque style of musical eclecticism, best heard on the aforementioned Whorses' Mouth. That album recalled the Jim Morrison of An American Prayer, and Dream Home Heartache -- a stunning collection of bluesy cabaret songs done with singer Gitane Demone -- found Williams in Bryan Ferry/David Bowie torch mode.
"I much prefer when somebody gets at least the idea ... If I'm going to be
compared to anything, I would prefer [it] to be to what had actually
influenced me," Williams told SonicNet Music News. "If somebody wants to say this is similar to Bowie or the Velvet Underground, great. If they want to say Sisters of Mercy or whatever, no, it's not. It's not goth! I've never done anything goth in my life!"
Duff confirmed that he had seen Williams socially in the week prior to his death, when everything had seemed "fine."
Duff added that the reason for Williams' suicide, though shrouded in rumors about his possible ill health, will most likely remain a mystery. There was no suicide note.
"That's one thing, when Jeffrey [Lee Pierce of the Gun Club] went, it was similar in that we were the last to know, we didn't know how sick he was," Duff added. "Generally artists aren't gonna go, 'Look I'm really fucked up and I'm thinking about killing myself' when you're paying them. So we're always the last to know when it comes to stuff like that."