Remembering “LJ” Lawrence

by E. "Doc" Smith on September 8, 2006

The tragic death of “LJ” Lawrence, one of the regions’ best loved bassists, has sparked an out pouring of love and support from far and wide. LJ was a close friend to me personally, and an inspiration to countless others with her generousity, music and spirit. I have been overwhelmed by the many emails and phone calls I’ve received in this time of grief, and in a way of coming to grips with a life cut way too short, I’d like to share just a few of the moving letters and tributes to the woman I affectionately called “LL Cool Girl”. Sam Fallo, and members of the Musician’s Union of Reno, will be holding a memorial tribute and jam session in her honor, Sunday, September 24h.


Your article about LJ’s life and her work with Don (Evans), brought back a lot of good memories of the Golden Age of blues in Reno, much of which was due to LJ’s hard work every Tuesday at the old Hacienda. Thanks for that portrait in words, it was a great tribute to the woman that so many of us have loved over the years. I can’t wrap my mind around the tragedy of her death yet or accept that she’s gone – it’s the kind of pain you can only let in a little at a time lest it flood in and destroy you. But your article called back memories of many, many hours that I spent in late night casinos around Nevada hanging with Don and LJ to enjoy who they were as people, as much as to enjoy their music. A spark of happiness through the tears.

She loved the music so much that when she played you felt the music was coming across somehow from the other side, that her love of the music was able to make thin and transparent that veil between here and heaven, to give us a hint of what the Real music is. Now she is part of that Real music. I know I’m only one of many, many people who can honestly say that LJ’s love of the blues changed my life by letting me really hear the music one beautiful note at a time, till it all came together as something more than just a performance; and that knowing her made me a better person than I otherwise could have been. Wherever she is now is part of that mystery we all will eventually face. I hope that mystery will somehow bring us all together again, eventually, where the music is pure love, and has its own quality outside of space and time.

With grateful respect,

Ed Hanley, Reno


So sad about LJ… Rene Best forwarded your email to me. Of course we are all shocked here in Reno. LJ was one of my first musical friends when I moved here 12 years ago.

Genie Webster, Reno

Guitarist Don Evans and “LJ” Lawrence

Hey Doc,

Thanks for the heads-up about LJ… I haven’t responded until now because I haven’t known quite how to. This was indeed a shocking event, and I’m sure there is much yet to unfold. I spoke to Genie at length about it yesterday… and so far, one can only sit back and await further information on what-the-fuck-over…

Marty Bolin, Southern Oregon Blues Band

Hi Doc,

Thanks for the wonderful article on our dear friend LJ Lawrence. Of all the reports that have been written this is absolutely the one that tells it like it is. My wife and I have known LJ for over 10 years and just played a blues fest with her 2 weeks ago. Everything you said about her totally summed it up…. It is beyond belief how such violence can end the life of a person so wonderful. Thanks again for the great article.

Kari and Jerry Shurtleff, The Kari and Jerry Duo


I will send light and love… Thank you for letting me know!!!!

Rudy Colombini, The Unauthorized Rolling Stones


I knew L.J. reasonably well. She had played in a Tahoe band called Shameus before I took over the bass spot. She was kind and lovely, and a totally badass musician. Just the weekend before last I was up in Tahoe celebrating a friend’s bachelor party, and we drunkenly found our way to Harvey’s, where I knew Cool Black Kettle often played. I sat in front of the stage, blew a kiss to L.J, and went on my way. That was the last time I saw her. The whole Lake is reeling. I found your article on line and just wanted to pass along how fitting and wonderful a tribute you wrote for her. She will be missed,

Sincerely, David Bole

July 4th, 2006, LJ Lawrence and Mira Musser


My Husband David Musser a long time player and founding member of Cool Black Kettle was absolutely beside himself when he heard of LJ’s death. We were scheduled to play a gig on Saturday night here in Los Angeles, and had to cancel due to the sadness we both felt! She did not deserve this end.

I was fortunate to get to meet her and play with her at a 4th of July gig in Tahoe this year, In a few words she inspired me immensely, and David and I both cried over the news…We pray for her family and her soul as the world has lost a beautiful woman!

What could her supposed Boyfriend have been thinking when he “took out” an Angel like L.J.?

Sincerely, Mira Wilder Musser


So sorry to hear of your friends fate. Keep that music coming as a way of keeping her memory close.

Wilbur Rehmann, The Wilbur Rehmnann Quartet, Montana

Bassists Kate Aragon and LJ Lawrence
Kauai, 2004. Photo by E. Doc Smith


Thanks for the sensitive and insightful article.

Kate Aragon, Oakland

E. “Doc” Smith is a musician and recording engineer who has worked with the likes of Brian Eno, Madonna, Warren Zevon, Mickey Hart, Jimmy Cliff, John Mayall, and Koko Taylor, among others. He is also the inventor of the musical instrument, the Drummstick. He can be reached at

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