By Bob Nalbandian

I remember once after taking Michelle to a Malice show I introduced her to guitarist Jay Reynolds. A couple weeks later Michelle had bought a guitar and was taking guitar lessons from Jay. Again, that was so Michelle; she was the most driven person I had ever met. As the metal scene started to grow in Orange County, a small group of us local metal fans and aspiring musicians would often meet up at local nightclubs, a record store signing or a concert at the Long Beach Arena. Wherever there was metal, we were out in full-force and Michelle was always right there with us! Another member of the local metal crew was a young aspiring drummer from Long Beach named Gene Hoglan. In fact, I believe I was there when Michelle first met with Gene; they were both 14 or 15 at the time and both had dreams of someday starting their own metal band. A few weeks after that meeting Michelle calls me on the phone, super excited she tells me that she and Gene are forming a band called War God...and from there it all began. I remember how thrilled Michelle was to finally have her very own metal outfit. Michelle's parents, Bob and Marilyn, were so supportive of her music career. At that time I thought it was standard for all parents to hate heavy metal music and what it stood for. But this was definitely not the case here, Michelle's parents not only encouraged and supported Michelle's career decision but they also rented a giant home studio warehouse in Torrance where Michelle and her band were able to rehearse. Unfortunately, War God split-up soon after Gene got the call to join Dark Angel, the then up and coming speed metal outfit who were hot on the heels of Slayer (who had just signed with Metal Blade Records). Michelle was determined to succeed in music, no matter where it would take her. She immediately caught wind of the burgeoning thrash metal scene up in the Bay Area and within weeks made the trek up to San Francisco and was instantly embraced by the Bay Area Bangers.

Michelle moved back to Los Angeles a couple years later and formed the all-female hard rock band Phantom Blue in the late '80s. And it didn't take long before the band signed a deal with Shrapnel Records. I remember how excited Michelle was to be working with Marty Friedman, who produced the band's debut record. Not long after that release Phantom Blue signed to Geffen. That was the time I started at Roadrunner Records (when they opened their first LA office) and I had the pleasure to work with Phantom Blue as they were still licensed to Roadrunner in Europe. These were again great times I shared with Michelle. It was so gratifying for me to witness Michelle blossom from this young, spirited metal fan into a bona fide Rock Goddess. But the fame or success never went to Michelle's head. She was so grounded and she never took anything for granted. Michelle lived for rock n roll and Phantom Blue certainly lead the rock n roll lifestyle, in fact, it's safe to say they lived up to that standard more than most the dude bands in Los Angeles.