Faye Hunter, bassist for Let's Active, dies of apparent suicide

Faye Hunter sharing a mic with Greg Humphreys during a Chris Stamey set.
This week begins on a sad note with news of the passing of Faye Hunter, a beloved member of the Winston-Salem music scene who was the original bass player in Let's Active, a seminal guitar pop group that was part of a critical fork in Southern rock in the early 1980s that gave rise to REM.

The News & Observer reports that Hunter died at her home in Advance near Winston-Salem on July 20 of an apparent suicide at the age of 59.

David Menconi wrote in the N&R story:
Hunter was a key player in the first two Let's Active releases — 1983's poppy mini-album Afoot and the brilliant 1984 full-length Cypress — which were both fascinating combinations of sunny pop sensibilities and dark undercurrents. She also contributed to 1986's Big Plans for Everybody before departing, adding just-right harmonies, on-the-one bass work and the occasional lead vocal.
Menconi quoted Jamie K. Sims, one of Hunter's friends as saying that she had struggled in recent years from the stress of working and caregiving.

Hunter performed in downtown Winston-Salem in May as part of a centennial celebration of the city's music. She shared vocals with Greg Humphreys of Hobex on a set led by Chris Stamey of the dB's, took a lead vocal turn and sang on Let's Active's signature song "Every Word Means No" during a guest tribute to her band.

Remembrances and tributes via Facebook

Mitch Easter, Let's Active founder, musician, producer: "Today's news has broken our hearts. Faye Hunter, you will be missed and loved forever."

Ed Bumgardner, Winston-Salem musician and scene organizer: "Faye was the sweetest, kindest person I have ever met. Never heard her say a bad word about anybody; even when she tried to complain about things or people who were doing damage, she couldn't quite bring herself to damn them. That is how sweet she was. It was her finest virtue, and it was a millstone that, over the last couple years, she carried. Life isn't fair. Life is difficult. She was under immense pressure for the last couple years — that is no secret."

Tim Sommer: "Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Faye Hunter, a fundamental part of one of the greatest music communities in the world. I cannot begin to understand the loss felt by the people who loved her, like Peter Holsapple and Mitch Easter, and I send my heart's condolences to them; but I do know that she is one of the most beautiful bricks that made the state of North Carolina the capital of modern American pop, and she will be missed for long, and remembered and loved for longer."

Greg Humphreys, musician: "I will never forget the night she came to see our high school band. She was one of our heroes and we were nervous. To be honest, we weren't very good. At the end of the show, she told me that we sounded 'like the Bobby Fuller Four.' Sweet and encouraging... that's the way she's been every time I've seen her or talked to her since then. A true gentle soul. Rest in peace, Faye. You deserved a lot better. We love you."

UPDATE: Peter Holsapple, founding member of the dB's and auxiliary guitarist and keyboardist for REM, has this remembrance at the Independent Weekly: "At 13, I was still awestruck in the presence of talented players like Mitch Easter and the late Sam Moss. But Faye was both approachable and encouraging, and she always had time to talk to me. In so many ways, it was Faye who helped broker my induction into the demimonde of 'combo corner,' a place I knew I belonged."

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