Inge Ginsberg, a Holocaust survivor who later became known as the “Death Metal Grandma,” has died at the age of 99. According to the New York Times, she passed away due to heart failure on July 20th in a care home in Zürich, Switzerland.
In her youth, Ginsberg fled the Holocaust and helped US spies during World War II. Her life took her all over the world, and she lived in New York City, Switzerland, Israel, and Ecuador at various times.
Ginsberg would go on to write songs in Hollywood and also worked as a journalist. When she wasn’t on the job, she wrote poetry. Refusing to give up her passion, her songs and poetry would become the crux of her foray into heavy metal in her latter years.
Fronting her band, Inge and the Tritones, Ginsberg appeared on Swtizerland’s Got Talent and in the Eurovision Song Contest. The group would soon go viral, with Ginsberg being dubbed “Death Metal Grandma” in a documentary by the New York Times.
The band’s vibrant music videos quickly won over fans. In the Eurovision clip for “Laugh at Death,” Ginsberg appeared in a long gown, hoisting the devil horns a la Ronnie James Dio. She stood surrounded by her bandmates, each wearing corpse paint, and delivers macabre poetry over heavy riffs.
Inge and the Tritones was formed out of serendipity in 2014. Ginsberg had actually been writing a children’s song, which she presented to musical colleague and future bandmate Pedro da Silva.
“She wrote these lyrics about worms eating your flesh after you die,” da Silva said of the track “Laugh at Death.”
The obvious suggestion was to then form a metal band around Ginsberg’s new song. Her words often focused on topics such as the Holocaust (Ginsberg’s grandmother and four young cousins were killed in concentration camps), climate change, mental health, spirituality, and other issues.
Watch The New York Times documentary on Ginsberg and see the music video for “Laugh at Death” below.