Veteran British rockers Girlschool have posted the following message on their official web site:
It is with extreme sadness to tell you that Kelly Johnson, original member of Girlschool, passed away on Sunday the 15th of July after fighting a six-year battle with cancer of the spine.
Motörhead issued the following statement on their official web site:
It is with extreme sadness to inform you that Kelly Johnson, original lead guitarist of Girlschool, passed away on Sunday night, 15th July. She has been suffering from spinal cancer for the last six years.
Joining Girlschool in 1978, Kelly was a face in the classic line-up alongside Kim McAuliffe (rhythm guitar, vocals), Enid Williams (bass, vocals) and Denise Dufort (drums). The band was an integral and major force in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement, beginning with the release of its debut album, Demolition (1980), and continuing with the follow-ups Hit ‘n’ Run (1981) and Screaming Blue Murder (1982). Kelly’s participation also saw Girlschool collaborating with Motörhead under the name Headgirl for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre EP. Both bands appeared on the lead track “Please Don’t Touch” and covered each other’s songs, Girlschool choosing “Bomber” and Motörhead picking “Emergency”.
Kelly originally left Girlschool in 1984 after recording the band’s fourth album, Play Dirty, to live in Los Angeles for the next ten years. She rejoined in 1993 and moved back to the U.K. In 2000, she decided to quit the music business for good after recording her final album with Girlschool, Not That Innocent: 21st Anniversary (2001), though always remained a close friend to the band.
Kelly Johnson (RIP) will be missed heavy-heartedly by all. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and friends.