Singer is killed in I-10 collision
Punk musician dies 3 hours after show
12/16/01by Gwen Filosa
The lead singer of an up-and-coming metal punk band was killed Saturday when the Corvette in which she was riding spun out of control into oncoming traffic on Interstate 10 near Causeway Boulevard and was virtually sliced in half, state police said.
Bianca Halstead, frontwoman and bassist for the irreverent all-female quartet Betty Blowtorch, had finished a show at the Howlin' Wolf about 2 a.m. when she and the band purportedly headed out for food, bar owner Howie Kaplan said.
She died about 3 hours later, when [Brian] McAllister of Burbank, [Illinois], lost control of his 1986 Corvette and spun into oncoming traffic [Note: In the original story, the driver was misidentified as William R. McAllister of Burbank, Ca.]. He had been drinking and was driving faster than 100 mph, state police said.
Halstead was pronounced dead at the scene. She was 36.
Police could not say where Halstead and McAllister were going or how they knew each other. Kaplan, who had just met McAllister at the show, said the band was traveling by van.
"We gave them some cookies. My mom bakes cookies for all the bands, and they said, 'We'll have these after we eat,' " Kaplan said.
McAllister was in surgery at East Jefferson Hospital on Saturday and remained in critical condition by nightfall. He faces a number of criminal charges in connection with the fatal accident, which is still under investigation.
"Charges are definitely pending," said Trooper Todd Marchand.
McAllister was traveling westbound near the Causeway interchange when he swerved out of the left lane and struck a car on his right. The car's driver, Jacquelyn Hampton, 35, of Kenner, was not injured. The Corvette then spun through the median into the path of an eastbound Mitsubishi.
The impact killed the musician instantly, police said. The driver of the Mitsubishi, Robert Fenkel, 50, of Colorado Springs, Colo., also was taken to the Metairie hospital. He was listed in serious condition late Saturday.
Club owner Kaplan said he spent Saturday trying to absorb the news and get in touch with Halstead's bandmates. "I've never lost a band before," he said.
A native of Los Angeles, Halstead grew up watching early 1980s punk bands in Hollywood. In the 1990s, she decided to get into the act and joined a series of musical groups.
Betty Blowtorch was formed in 1998 and released its debut album, "Are You Man Enough," on Foodchain Records in May. The label cheerfully touted the musicians as "four foul-mouthed, power-tool-crazy rock 'n' roll hussies," and the women happily embodied the in-your-face, profane, heavy metal prototype. They had been touring hard lately and had planned to play a Houston club Saturday night and then at another in Austin, Texas, according to the band's Web site. New Year's Eve, the band was booked to play Los Angeles' grittily fabled Whiskey A-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip.
In a recent interview with the New Times in Los Angeles, Halstead, who goes by the stage name Bianca Butthole, said this was probably going to be her last band. "So I'm going to get as many good memories as I possibly can before I hang it up," she said.
Gwen Filosa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 826-3304.
Article reprinted from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.