Susie Tennant — longtime member of the Seattle music community, promotions and marketing legend, and early supporter of Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and others — has died of early onset dementia. She was 61 years old.
News of Tennant’s passing was confirmed by the Friends of Susie Tennant Page Facebook page on Friday, with a post stating that she was “calm and at peace,” and “surrounded by family and love.” For several years, Tennant had suffered from several ailments; first ovarian cancer, which was in remission for the last years of her life (though she did suffer from “chemo brain” as a result of the treatment); and then frontotemporal degeneration, a type of dementia.
Over the course of Tennant’s career, she made waves — and, ultimately, an impact on global music history itself — as a champion of the Seattle music scene. As publicist for a then-ascendant Nirvana, she advocated for the band, won them opportunities, and even organized the 1991 record release party for Nevermind.
As Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic recollected to Charles R. Cross for his tribute to Tennant in The Seattle Times, the Nevermind release party went a bit awry when the band started a food fight and was kicked out of the venue. Nevertheless, Tennant kept her cool. “Susie laughed it off,” Grohl and Novoselic said, explaining that the party simply relocated to Tennant’s house. “We loved Susie a great deal, and she will be missed.”
Beyond her work with Nirvana, Tennant is remembered for her time working in promotions and marketing for DGC Records (a division of Geffen Records), as well as for groups like: Sub Pop, Experience Music Project (later MoPOP), Tower Records, BMG, University Book Store, M3 Marketing, and Town Hall.
Additionally, Tennant helped bands like Sonic Youth, Beck, Hole, Weezer, and many others. For a period of time, she was even roommates with Kim Warnick of Fastbacks, who was quoted in The Seattle Times saying: “There was no one in Seattle music that was as well-loved, or as respected as Susie… She was the unsung hero of Seattle music, and she brought that same love to everything and everyone. She was the glue that stuck Seattle together.”