Feature Stories

Friends and Family Remember Mercury Rocket Bassist Krissy Arnold

Friends and family gathered at Double Wide last night to celebrate the life of Mercury Rocket bassist Krissy Arnold. Arnold, a transgender woman, died last Friday. A few offered some thoughts on a parent, fellow musician, photographer, self-taught tech guru who worked at museums across the country, and — perhaps above all else — a source of inspiration. There is a GoFundMe account for The Krissy Arnold Family Fund

Ben Fleming, Arnold's band mate: I really looked up to Krissy. Her parents abandoned her when she was going through transitioning. They had very conservative, Christian backgrounds, redneck Midwest backgrounds. They didn’t get it. I think that really messed with her.

I wanted to have an artistic lifestyle; I didn’t want to be a banker. I feel like I could’ve been more successful if I went to college. But Krissy did it all on her own. I really looked up to that. She was out in San Francisco living the dream and supporting her family. She was running the whole website for the Museum of Modern Art. She had been out there since September and killed herself the day before it reopened.

Krissy doesn’t have a degree; she’s a high school dropout. She learned all that code by trying to crash government websites and shit as a kid. She got caught and offered her services to make the sites better. She went from the museum in Indianapolis to the DMA here to the MOMA in San Francisco. She helped with website design and was always on standby in case the website crashes. But she didn’t go to school for any of that, she learned it herself. She made our website. She was just smart, hands on, knew how to put shit together.

Jeff Brown, owner of King Camel: I had Mercury Rocket at Crown & Harp a while back. She had just joined the band, but I had seen her around. We had hung out, she was really cool. She actually looked a lot like one of my ex-girlfriends, so there was kind of a magnetism, especially when I would get drunk and slightly flamboyant. It was at that point she decided to ask me straight to my face, “Are you sure you’re not gay?” I might be a little different, but I am not. But coming from her I thought that means I am probably pretty cool. So for that moment in my life I felt good about myself. Then I woke up and that ended. She was fun, she was open, she didn’t give a shit, she talked about anything she wanted to — that’s what I loved about her.

Lina Reyne, Arnold's girlfriend: Her voice had impact in a lot of ways. Now it’s another voice in the cosmos. What we need to focus on is she was fucking awesome and she did some awesome shit. She lives on in all of us and through her work. Everyone she knew made music or art or something. A lot of people will be dealing with this through music and lyrics. She needs to be celebrated.

Nikki Arnold, Arnold's ex-wife: How many people can say that their ex-wife and girlfriend are close friends? Krissy and I actually became closer as sisters than we ever were as partners. We had a sisterly love-hate bond. She annoyed the shit out of me and loved every minute of it. She liked to fuck with me. She was like my best friend. I shared everything with her, and she shared everything with me.

Lina Reyne: Krissy experienced so much tragedy. People in her family passed away, which often meant her musical family. She had experienced that for years before I met her. But even in the past year there have been more than I can count. But she wasn’t sad. She experienced it, she did it, she was a fucking rock star.

Jeff Liles, artistic director at The Kessler: The timing. Dan Patrick saying all that shit and Obama’s initiative being shot down immediately. The whole thing is so emblematic of prejudice. People who don’t understand the transgender lifestyle think it’s a mental illness, and it’s not. The real mental illness is in the prejudice that people have for people they don’t know or understand. Artists are not mentally ill; they are particularly sensitive to the context of where they fit in life and in society.

Stefan Gonzalez, musician: I’m tired of crying over people that I’ve lost.

Fleming: Krissy was a really awesome parent. She was creative and nonchalant, kind of let the kids go wild, but fiercely protective. My daughter will turn 5 this Friday, and her youngest daughter is turning 6 in June. That’s one of the reasons we had booked three shows: Krissy planned on coming in for her daughter’s birthday. My daughter is always asking what her daughter is doing. They rode the Shockwave together last year. They were right above the height to ride some of the crazy rides. Fearless. It was a slow night and they rode it six times. Our kids are going to be fearless and wild. I just really want our kids to stay together. They could be really awesome lifetime friends.

Aaron Barker, musician: She was always really sweet to me. We played shows together, and I was there when they recorded. I’ve known Ben for a very long time and Graham [Brotherton] is a sweetheart. I know how close they were with Krissy. She was part of our rock 'n' roll community. Rock 'n' roll is a very intimate thing, and I feel sad for the loss to the whole community. In the future, God forbid if one of us should pass, there should be a 21-guitar salute. Twenty-one of us with guitars and amps and then we all just strum an E chord or whatever, on 11. ... I’ve lost so many of my friends and peers to suicide and drug addiction.

Graham Brotherton, Arnold's band mate: I want to tell her fuck-you for doing this, that’s all I can say. But I love her. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I think she would thank me for saying that. We never toured together. We wanted her, needed her, had to have her. She was family to us, and she knew that. We’re her soul mates. We cared about the person she is; she was our bass player, and she inspired everyone. Don’t ever take anything for granted. If someone says hello to you, stop and talk to them, get to know them. You never know what kind of person they are. No one could ever play bass like she could.

Fleming: She inspired me to pick up photography again; she was a great photographer. She had an eye for things, visually. Musically, likewise. The first time the three of us ever played I felt like we connected right off. We were looking at each other like, yeah, this is going to be a band. We did a lot of improvisation. The very first jam session we had became “Second Sight” on our album. I felt like I knew her my whole life.  

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Jeremy Hallock