This week on the Local Show, we’re paying tribute to Vixen, which is widely regarded as St. Paul’s first all-female rock band.
As a high school student in St. Paul, Jan Kuehnemund started an early version of the band in 1973 with three other girls. By 1984, she moved the project to California, where the “classic” ‘80s lineup of Kuehnemund, Janet Gardner, Roxy Petrucci and Share Ross took off in Los Angeles’ glam metal scene.
In 1988, the group released their self-titled debut album, and topped national music charts with their hit single “Edge of a Broken Heart,” making Vixen the only all-female platinum-selling rock band at the time.
The band came out with several other successful singles during their heyday, like “Cryin,'” “Love is a Killer,” and “Not a Minute Too Soon.” The “MTV darlings” opened for acts like Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple and Bon Jovi.
After releasing their second album,”Rev it Up,” in 1990, band broke up in 1991 as the Seattle grunge scene began to make waves.
In 1997, Gardner and Petrucci recruited two new band members and started performing as “Vixen” again. They toured the country and released a new album, “Tangerine.” But Kuehnemund sued the band for copyright infringement, and the band stopped performing in 1998.
But in 2001, Kuehnemund revamped the band with original members Petrucci, Gardner and new member Pat Holloway, though the group eventually split up halfway through a national tour. Kuehnemund then recruited Jenna Sanz-Agero, Lynn Lowrey and Kathrin Kraft to complete the tour and release a new album in 2006 titled “Live & Learn.”
Kuehnemund participated in a VH1 “Bands Reunited” episode with the other members of the classic lineup in 2004, and was planning a reunion concert with them in 2012 when a cancer diagnosis forced her to postpone her plans. Since Kuehnemund’s passing in 2013, the ’80s members Gardner, Petrucci and Ross, along with Gina Stile, have kept Vixen going and still tour today. Kuehnemund’s guitar and collection of Vixen memorabilia are now part of the Minnesota History Center’s permanent collection.
Jackie Renzetti is a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is a projects editor at the Minnesota Daily and co-hosts Radio K’s “Off the Record.”