"Word has spread across the Internet these past days about the death of Larissa Strickland, former guitarist for local legends the Laughing Hyenas and vocalist for L-Seven, an area post-punk group that released a single, shining 7-inch EP in 1982. The Hyenas (1985-1995) don't get enough credit, locally or nationally. They did four albums on Touch and Go, and their sound was a shriek and a scowl, murderous ballads and blues music driven mad by punk rock, and Strickland's guitar work was as integral to the Hyenas' end product as ex-Negative Approach frontman John Brannon's unhinged vocals. How she died isn't yet clear, but according to an obituary that appeared Nov. 7 in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Strickland, 46, passed away Oct. 9 at home in North Port, Fla., and she is survived by a husband, sister and brother. Friends from the Hyenas era and before describe how they lost touch with her in the years after the Hyenas' breakup; some fear her history of heroin abuse may have contributed to her death. 'She was one of the smartest, funniest people I've ever known and it's sad to say goodbye,' L-Seven guitarist Dave Rice says. 'But she always loved the spooky and the unknown, so maybe bon voyage works just as well.'"
We included the thoughts of John Brannon, Kevin Strickland, and Thurston Moore in the paper; here are two additional tributes to Larissa that we didn't have room for. You can also visit Kevin Strickland's MySpace page for some great photos of Larissa and the Hyenas throughout the years.
Larissa was a true original and I’m sorry to see her go. Her whereabouts over the last few years had been a subject of much conjecture among some of us, and I was relieved to hear from a mutual friend that he had run into her not too long ago, and that she seemed to be ok. I was hoping to catch up with her, but there you go. I met Larissa in 1980 and knew right away she was the real thing. One of my first memories of her is of us heckling the 1980 GOP conventioneers from the window of my flat on Jefferson Avenue. We played together in L-Seven for around three years. She was totally fucking punk, but made us listen to Michael Jackson and Rick James records, and could blow the shit out of a Yardbirds or Alice Cooper cover too. To this day I am blown away by her guitar work with the Hyenas. She was just starting to plunk around on guitar with John Brannon when L-Seven broke up, and then two years later she was frigging godhead. Incredible. She was one of the smartest, funniest people I’ve ever known and it’s sad to say goodbye, but she always loved the spooky and the unknown, so maybe bon voyage works just as well.
I met Larissa when I was 17, after the Laughing Hyenas had already made an impact on my life. I was still living in Marquette, and had somehow wrangled the university to pay for the Hyenas to come all the way up and play in our desolate town. I was also able to arrange for my band, Bernadette, to provide support on the bill. I had looked forward to this night for months.
The effects of the Hyenas’ performance that night can still be felt in Marquette. I was beside myself. I’d just played with my favorite band, and they’d almost incited a riot. After the show, we all went out for pizza. At dinner I sat across from Larissa. She terrified me, she excited me. I told her how honored I was to be able to play with her and the Hyenas. I told her she was my favorite guitarist. I gushed like a 17-year-old fan-boy. Larissa smiled. Her eyes were so innocent, so guilty. She told me, “Thank you, that’s the nicest thing I could hear. But you were wonderful too, Michael.” She kissed my cheek and I moved to Ann Arbor; we lived together for a while and became good friends. It’s been quite some time since I've seen her and I’ve missed her. I miss her a lot more now.