Jill Janus, best known as frontwoman and vocalist for Highland Park–based metal band Huntress, died on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the age of 43 from an apparent suicide, according to the band’s Facebook page.
Janus battled several mental health disorders from a young age, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. In addition, she had battles with cancer and addiction, all of which she discussed publicly.
Janus was a female powerhouse who stood out from the male-dominated metal music industry, earning respect for her four-octave, gender-fluid, operatic vocal range and metal inflections. Her influences included Rob Halford and King Diamond.
In a 2012 L.A. Weekly interview, Janus said, “I don't read anything online. I will always use sexuality to gain attention. But I also understand you have to have skills to back it up. … I am on my warrior path, and nothing will stop me.”
Formed in 2009, Huntress released a trilogy of albums, themed around “the maiden, the mother and the crone”: 2012’s Spell Eater, 2013’s Starbound Beast (which included a track with lyrical content written by Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead) and 2015’s Static. Although the second album’s lyrical content was inspired by the cosmos — particularly the alpha constellation, algebron and enochian — the final album included dark and raw songs such as “Mania” that touched on her inner demons.
Huntress' former manager, Jackie Kajzer, also known as Full Metal Jackie, confirmed the news via Facebook. Janus’ former bandmate Casey Woods also made a statement on Facebook:
“I'm in shock and can't stop crying. My ex band mate singer has left the world. She was the biggest sweetheart and I hope that her Legacy lives on as it should! You were supposed to be on your way back here Jill Janus. I love you I miss you, and my door is still open for you always. Rest in peace my sister.”
In addition to Huntress, Janus was a member of several other metal- and rock-centric supergroups, sharing the stage with formidable musicians in The Starbreakers and Chelsea Girls.
One of her most recent musical endeavors included a collaboration with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Angus Clark. The duo composed a rock opera that will be debuted at an upcoming date.
One day prior to her death, a photo of Janus and two of her dogs was posted on Instagram. Janus was an avid animal activist as well as a natural medicine practitioner.
We send our heartfelt condolences to Janus’s family, friends, bandmates and fans.