Natasha Shneider

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Natasha Shneider
Also known as Natasha Kapustin
Born (1956-05-22)May 22, 1956
Moscow, Soviet Union
Died July 2, 2008(2008-07-02) (aged 52)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Rock, alternative rock, pop
Occupations Singer-songwriter, singer, musician, actress
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, piano
Years active 1978–2008
Labels Motown
Associated acts Eleven, Alain Johannes, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Russian

Natasha Shneider (Russian: Наташа Шнайдер) (May 22, 1956 – July 2, 2008)[1] was a Russian musician and actress. She was most notably the keyboardist and vocalist in the musical group Eleven, and was the partner of bandmate Alain Johannes. She also played keyboard bass on the group's first three albums. In 2005 she toured with Queens of the Stone Age for their album Lullabies to Paralyze.

Life and career[edit]

Shneider was born in Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia), to a Jewish family.

In the early 1970s she was a member of 'Sovremennik', a state-run pop orchestra, that featured Natasha Shneider on vocals and piano, her first husband Serge Kapustin on guitar and percussion. Her brother Vladimir Shneider produced and played piano and keyboards for the 'Singing Hearts', which was one of Russia's hottest groups in the mid-'70s, whose output and sound was heavily controlled by the Soviet authorities. Vladimir Shneider recalled: We'd sing 37 songs about how good the Communist Party is, and at the end—if we were lucky—we were allowed to play a mellow song like Killing Me Softly or Ain't No Sunshine. But never rock.[2]

Natasha Shneider, her husband Kapustin and her brother Vladimir defected to the West in May 1976 arriving in New York City with no finance and no connections taking day jobs and playing evening gigs around the city. In 1978 they arrived in Hollywood where they met Guy Costa, the head of Motown's Studio Operations, who introduced them to Berry Gordy, founder of Motown records. As a consequence of the meeting with Gordy they were signed to the label, reputedly the first Russian band to be on a major label. In June 1980 the newly named Black Russian released an album of R&B styled pop that was well received by Billboard who highlighted the songs Mystified, Leave Me Now, which was later released as a single, Emptiness, New York City, and Love's Enough.[3] The album was not a commercial success and Black Russian did not continue. Natasha Shneider and Serge Kapustin later divorced.

In 1987 her second husband Alain Johannes and Shneider released the album Walk the Moon under the MCA label. Reportedly, Chris Hutchinson and Jack Irons played on some of its tracks. Shneider and Johannes contributed to Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf, and joined the band as part of their touring line-up in support of their 2005 album Lullabies to Paralyze. They also wrote, performed and produced with Chris Cornell for his 1999 solo album, Euphoria Morning, and formed part of his band for the subsequent tour. Previous band affiliations include Desert Sessions and Walk the Moon.

Acting career[edit]

Shneider also acted in two feature films, playing the roles of Soviet cosmonaut Irina Yakunina in 2010 (1984), and Polish former exchange student Wanda Yakubovska in the film Spiker (1986), as well as minor roles in the TV shows Miami Vice and Hill Street Blues. She also wrote and performed her own song, "Who's in Control", for the 2004 film Catwoman and contributed harpsichord to the 2008 Louis XIV track "Guilt By Association".

Later life and death[edit]

On July 2, 2008, Natasha Shneider died following a battle with cancer. The news broke with a message posted on the MySpace page of the band Sweethead, of which Natasha's close friend and former band-mate Troy Van Leeuwen is a member:

Natasha Schneider [sic], musician extraordinaire, former actress, singer of the ground-breaking band Eleven, and one-time Queens Of The Stone Age keyboard player, died today at 11:11am of cancer. She was a brilliant, beautiful, and ballsy woman who will be missed deeply by all those who knew her. Send your loving thoughts her way in the universe.

—Sweethead MySpace, (2008)

The following message later replaced the main page at qotsa.com:

On July 2nd, at 11:11 AM, Natasha Shneider passed away. She ended her time in this Life with the style and poetry that she lived all the days previous, crossing over while held in the arms of her closest and dearest. No words can encapsulate the unwaivering strength she provided, adversities she overcame, the talents she possessed & nurtured, the sharpness of her wit nor the beautiful complexity of her intellect. We are so thankful for her influence & the gift of her friendship.

A celebration of Natasha Shneider will be held in Hollywood at the Henry Fonda Theatre on Saturday, Aug 16th. Further details will be released shortly. All proceeds of the benefit and donations made will go to relieve the burden of Natasha's fight against cancer. To donate, go to NatashaShneider.org
Now is all we have. May you all make the most of it.

—Josh Homme, (2008)

On August 16, 2008, Queens of the Stone Age performed a concert in celebration of Natasha Shneider's life at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. They were joined on stage by Alain Johannes, Tenacious D's Jack Black and Kyle Gass, Matt Cameron, Brody Dalle, Jesse Hughes, Chris Goss and PJ Harvey, playing a variety of QOTSA and non-QOTSA songs. Proceeds from the concert went to defray the costs associated with Natasha’s illness.

In late 2009, a song she co-wrote with Johannes, Time for Miracles, was recorded by Adam Lambert and used in the movie 2012. In 2010 the track WYUT, co-written by Shneider, Johannes and Natalie Imbruglia, appeared on Imbruglia's album Come To Life.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cohen, Johnathan (2008-07-02). "Eleven's Natasha Shneider Dies Of Cancer". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  2. ^ The People Newspaper, October 27, 1980
  3. ^ Billboard, June 14, 1980

External links[edit]