NME Guitarist Dead At 39
When Kurt Struebing died this week after his car fell through the open draw span of a bridge, it ended a life that friends said seemed to have been lived by two different people.
Nearly 20 years ago, he killed his mother and was sent to prison. Years later, he became a leading figure in heavy-metal music, a trusted friend and a doting father.
On Wednesday, Struebing, 39, drove his Volkswagen Jetta through two barriers on the Spokane Street Bridge as it opened to let a tug pass on the Duwamish Waterway. The Jetta plunged off the bridge and landed on the ground more than 50 feet below.
Police investigators and motorists who saw the crash were puzzled over why Struebing drove off the bridge.
Friends believe it was simply a horrible accident.
Struebing was involved in music for the past two decades, forming a band with some high school buddies in the mid-1980s. By 1986, their band, NME, had released three albums.
But in April of that year, Struebing, then 20, was accused of killing his adoptive mother, Darlee Struebing, with a hatchet and a pair of scissors. At the time, friends said, Struebing had been abusing drugs, and even prosecutors believed he was mentally unstable. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, although prosecutors sought a shorter sentence.
Released early from prison in 1994, it wasn't long before Struebing, a guitarist, began playing music again and the band, NME, reformed.
Critics call their music "black metal." Some music of that genre includes satanic imagery and mentions of the occult. Struebing's band, whose name is pronounced "enemy," had its own Web site at www.nme666.com.
But friends said the music was tongue-in-cheek. "It was just music," said Stephen Austin, who is producer for a heavy-metal program on a cable-access channel.
Bonner, who managed the band in recent years, said Struebing never liked to talk about his past. And for most of his friends, his past didn't matter.
Kriss Blazina, a bassist in the metal band End Theory, said whenever anyone who knew Struebing found out about his criminal record, they usually reacted in disbelief. The man most knew, Blazina said, was kind, generous and funny.
"At the drop of a hat, he'd help anyone out," he said.
Through his job at Reprographics, Struebing was always willing to produce fliers promoting other bands, particularly the ones just starting out.
"He was a very good graphic artist," Bonner said. "One of the best."
Though he practiced with his band every Monday, helped organize benefit concerts and played often himself, Struebing spent his spare time with his wife and son in their Federal Way home.
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