EDITORIAL: If people are going to condemn Amy Winehouse for her own death, then they are hypocrites if they don’t also blame Mama Cass for allowing her health to deterioriate, or Elvis Presley (ditto) or John Lennon, who moved to NYC so he could move “safely” among the people, without security. There are plenty more.
What about James Dean, who loved driving fast? Or Roberto Clemente, who knew the plane was overloaded the night it crashed? Or Sam Cooke (He wouldn’t have been shot if he hadn’t brought a hooker to his motel room)?
How about Rock Hudson or Liberace? They certainly took risks. I remember plenty of hand-wringing over River Phoenix. Seems he was living just as hard a lifestyle as Winehouse. So was Bon Scott.
Esophageal cancer can be stopped in its tracks if detected early. So should we blame famed baseball slugger Harmon Killebrew for his death earlier this year?Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor
Other brilliant lights who knew the risks they were taking: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Gram Parsons, Elliot Smith, John Belushi, John Entwistle, Keith Moon, Bruce Lee, Sam Kinison, Jimbo Morrison, Alan Ladd, Frankie Lyman, Chris Penn, Heath Ledger, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Thunders, Ike Turner, and “The Queen” Dinah Washington.
There was Jeff Buckley, who took an impulsive evening swim and drowned. Michael Jackson: You all know that story (He wanted to be so close to Elvis, he ended up dying like him). And, yes, Lady Di. Couldn’t she have told her driver to slow down?
There was the “Downey Girl,” voice like an angel: Karen Carpenter. And comedy TV pioneer Ernie Kovacs, who was speeding on a rain-slicked road, smoking his trademark cigar, when he crashed..
Is Amy Winehouse really any different?
What separates her from one of the greatest unknown comics of our time, Bill Hicks, who smoked constantly, joked about how he’d probably die someday of cancer — and did? Or the incomparable Townes Van Zandt, who continued to abuse drugs until they killed him?
Ernest — and Margaux — Hemingway: both suicides. As, apparently, was George “Superman” Reeves. “The Wizard of Oz’s” Auntie Em, who, suffering from arthritis, took pills and tied a plastic bag over her head.
The once-brilliant and immensely talented comedian Richard Jeni killed himself. So Freddie Prinze. Lenny Bruce. Truman Capote. Lowell George. Jean Seberg. Edie Sedgwick.
(Boy, we have a lot of people to blame here….)
“Oh, my love, my darling, I hunger for your touch….” Sung beautifully by Bobby Hatfield, who OD’d on cocaine.
Among other amazing talents who also killed themselves: Diane Arbus, Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, Hunter S. Thompson, Dorothy Dandridge.
Many were tormented: Musician Vic Chesnutt continued to perform after getting drunk, rolling his truck and paralyzing most of his body. There was Michael Hutchence of INXS, the Pretenders’ James Honeyman-Scott, Jerzy “Being There” Kosinski, who suffocated himself with a plastic bag. There was singer Del Shannon and poet Hart Crane, who jumped overboard on a cruise ship after bidding everyone adieu. Sylvia Plath — the heroine of high school girls everywhere — took her life, as did Virginia Wolfe and Abbie Hoffman. Tim Buckley (Jeff’s dad): died of a heroin OD.
If only the world got to hear the comedy of Mitch Hedberg, the voice of Nick Drake, or the magic fiddle of Amy Farris. Not to be.
Tim Hardin wrote not only “If I Were a Carpenter” but “REASON TO BELIEVE.” Was his suicide tragic irony or faceplant? Lester Bangs — the truest voice of American rock and roll critics — took the exit by mixing Darvon, Valium & NyQuil.
Speaking of which: Imagine if they had anti-depressants back in Van Gogh’s day? “I think today I will paint lilies. No — wait. Butterflies!” Or Edgar Alan Poe. “The Cute Little Birdie” doesn’t have much of a ring to it, does it?
You like “South Park”? The name Mary Kay Bergman mean anything to you?
How about Brynn Hartman? Killed one of our most brilliant comedians, then offed herself.
Donny Hathaway: Like Chet Baker, he went out the window — from the 15th floor of the famed Essex House. Gig Young: suicide. Tattoo from “Fantasy Island”!
Been thinking about the gorgeous love song “Pledging My Love,” by the late, great Johnny Ace. The man brought a revolver to every show. Backstage, he’d play Russian roulette, spinning the cylinder, pointing the barrel at his head and pulling the trigger. One night in ’54, Johnny Ace lost. THEN he became famous.
Here’s the kicker: “Poor” Marilyn, candle in the wind…. Amy Winehouse: stupid tramp.
Not for nothin’, but sorting people is how the Nazis launched their pogrom — I mean, program.
It’s either to hell with all or to hell with none. I choose the latter.
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