This would have been — should have been — the 44th birthday of singer Jill Janus, best known perhaps for her three-album stint as lead vocalist for the metal band Huntress. As a child, she learned to sing opera; eventually, she discovered the wonders of That Which Is Metallic, and for a while served as a late-night disk jockey under the name “Penelope Tuesdae.”
In 2015, Janus announced that Huntress was breaking up; the band said “No, we aren’t,” and continues today. They said that Janus had had some mental-health issues, which was true: she had been dealing with bipolar disorder since her teens, and was subsequently diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, with depression and schizophrenia to follow. And just to make matters worse, she contracted uterine cancer, which was treated by hysterectomy.
“Spell Eater” is the title track of the first Huntress LP, released in 2012.
In August 2018, this statement was posted to the band’s Facebook page:
“It is with crushed hearts that we announce that Jill Janus — frontwoman for the California heavy metal band Huntress — passed away on Tuesday, August 14,” the band wrote. “A long-time sufferer of mental illness, she took her own life outside of Portland, Oregon.”
“Janus spoke publicly about these challenges in hopes of guiding others to address and overcome their mental illness,” the post continued.
She was two weeks away from her 43rd birthday.