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Passings: Jan Kuehnemund of Vixen (1961 - 2013)

Jan Kuehnemund of the all-female metal band Vixen died on Thursday after a battle with cancer at the age of 51.

The official Vixen website posted:
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.

Jan was very courageous. Never complained. Never gave up. The cancer beat her body but it NEVER broke her spirit at any point. Up until the actual moment that she died, she really believed she was going back home.

Jan... you will be missed.. but never forgotten.
Kuehnemund formed Vixen in 1974 while still in a St. Paul, MN high school. The band wasn't active for a few years until a more permanent version was formed in 1980 that included Jan, Gayle Erickson-DeMatoff, Cindy Boettcher and Laurie Hedlund from the original lineup.

The personnel changed throughout the early and mid-80's until only Kuehnemund was left, joined by Janet Gardner on vocals, Share Pederson on bass and Roxy Petrucci on drums. The version signed with EMI in 1987 to record their self-titled debut album. Vixen included their signature hit, Edge of a Broken Heart, which was written by Richard Marx and Fee Waybill and produced by Marx.

Vixen followed up in 1990 with Rev It Up before disbanding the next year over musical differences. Petrucci formed a new version of the band in 1997 and released the album Tangerine but was sued by Kuehnemund over copyright infringement.

Kuehnemund reformed the group in 2001 with Gardner, Petrucci and Pat Holloway on bass, going on the road for half of the Voices of Metal tour before they once again split up.  Jan quickly formed a new lineup with Jenna Sanz-Agero, Lynn Louise Lowrey and Kathrin "Kat" Kraft which are still the Vixens today. The band released both the studio album Live and Learn and the live album Extended Versions in 2006.

Even with the ongoing success of the latest lineup, Kuehnemund was planning on a reunion of the classic lineup; however, her cancer diagnosis and treatment prevented her moving forward with her plans.

Share Penderson, now Share Ross, wrote on her Facebook page:
On behalf of JSRG which includes the three original members of Vixen, Janet Gardner, Share Ross, Roxy Petrucci along with Gina Stile are heartbroken to announce the sudden passing of Vixen founder and lead guitarist, Jan Kuehnemund who lost a valiant battle with cancer on Thursday, October 10, 2013.

Much more than simply a brilliant guitarist and amazing songwriter, Jan was one of the kindest souls you could ever hope to meet. She remembered everyone's birthdays and special occasions with gifts and was one of the most gracious women on the planet.

Through her year long battle with cancer, Jan was very courageous. She never complained and never gave up. The cancer beat her body but it never broke her spirit at any moment.

For those of you who wondered why Vixen never reunited, we actually did reunite.

We had resolved our differences and were whole heartedly looking forward to playing together again.

In January, 2013 only days before the announcement was to be made public, Jan was given her cancer diagnosis. She requested that we keep her illness private and out of respect for her wishes when press and fans asked us why we were not back together, we replied "it's a matter of timing."

Since then we've been in regular contact with her and offered our loving support while continually hoping to make 2014 the year of Vixen.

However, it was not meant to be.

Our condolences go out to her family. Memorial services will be announced at a later date.

Jan, you will be missed. But never forgotten.

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.