Sarah Kirsch, a staple of the Bay Area punk scene and a member of bands like Pinhead Gunpowder (which also featured Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong), Fuel, Fifteen, Torches to Rome, and more, died earlier this week, the Daily Swarm points out. She suffered from a rare genetic disease called Fanconi Anemia, which often causes leukemia and other forms of cancer. According to SF Weekly, she was 42.
Kirsch was known as Mike Kirsch before coming out as transsexual. MaximumRocknRoll has posted a message from collaborator Spencer Rangitsch, which also includes a long list of the dozen-plus bands Kirsch played in over the last couple of decades:
Nothing I can say in this setting can do any real justice to the impact Sarah Kirsch had on my life and the lives of so many others. She was by far the most inspiring person I will ever encounter in my brief time on this Earth. She was also my best friend. The experiences of that friendship, and her direct impact on my life, shaped who I am today more than any other person. She had an affect and a presence and a spirit that will be well remembered — I will carry it with me forever…
In the truest sense, Sarah was ahead of her time, almost as if from another galaxy: her talent, vision, creativity, empathy, values, compassion, dedication and unrelenting passion for life — all were truly unsurpassable and there is no one who I could ever even imagine having just one of those qualities in greater quantity. Sarah once wrote, “I believe in people. That deep within the most beaten down of us there is a will to survive, an instinct to rise above.” Though she always put her concern and belief in others first, Sarah herself had that same will to the very end.
Watch Kirsch’s most recent band, Mothercountry Motherfuckers, give a performance last year: