NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) Susan Beschta, 67, who once fronted the 1970s punk bank The Erasers under the pseudonym Susan Springfield and went on to become a human rights lawyer and immigration judge, died from brain cancer in hospice care in Manhattan May 2.
Beschta joined the punk rock scene by hitchhiking to New York from Berkeley, Calif., then joined the Erasers as a self-taught guitarist and singer, playing songs in the three-chords-and-the-truth vein in clubs like CBGB.
In the 1980s, she earned a law degree and began working for a charity representing abuse victims and immigrants, according to the New York Times.
In the early 2000s, she became a federal government attorney handling immigration cases and, earlier this year, became a federal judge not long after learning of her cancer.
“For Susan, music and art were there to lift up all people, and this deep-seated belief was what she took with her from the downtown scene to the halls of justice,” friend Sylvia Reed, once married to Lou Reed, said in an email to the Times. “To her, all were equal, all were entitled to human compassion.”
The band, which opened for many of the punk rock luminaries of the era, was not prolific and recorded only three songs. One, “Funny,” was produced by Richard Lloyd of Television but wasn’t released until it was included on a 2015 boxed set celebrating a defunct record label, Ork Records.
“Susan was one of the musicians at the heart of CBGB, when what was to be called ‘punk’ was still an undefined desire and attitude developing there,” Richard Hell, who dated Beschta in her musician days, recalled in an email to the NYT. “And ‘heart’ is the word, because she was unusual in that environment for her kindness and drive to work for justice.”
“We all played instruments, we weren’t just the pretty girl up front,” Beschta told Flavorwire in 2016. “And this was right on the heels of the feminist movement. If you saw one of our first posters, I had really long, curly hair — beautiful — and shortly thereafter I made a statement and had it all chopped off.”