Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: Better to burn out than to fade away

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Better to burn out than to fade away

Rock stars have notoriously led more 'risky' lives as far as sex, drugs and alcohol goes.

Even rock stars who are old still die of drug overdoses like John Entwistle and Dee Dee Ramone. Both of those men had lifetime battles with coke and heroine which ultimately won after many attempts to kick the habit. Who drummer Keith Moon also died of a drug overdose but was not 27. We've lost rock stars who were sexually promiscuous and were infected with HIV as well. As a lifetime rock and roll fanatic, I see that most musicians in the past and present tend to experiment with drugs and promiscuous sex. I get it, that goes with the territory, but we can also see that for some...it becomes a real problem. 

Amy Winehouse was one of them, one of many. She was a young musician who found herself immersed in a tumultuous relationship and a drug addiction. When The Doors Jim Morrison was found dead by his girlfriend... she decided to take a nap instead of call an ambulance. Apparently Jim had ingested too much heroine and hemorrhaged. Amy Winehouse had a well known drug problem, which she tried to seek help for and like most of the members of the 27 Club, fell off the wagon. Both Jim and Janis were given heroine which they overdosed on (and all the other people who bought from Janis' dealer also OD'd). 

Both Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse were found dead in their London homes. Jimi Hendrix was found dead by his girlfriend also, allegedly overdosed on Vesparax and choked on his own vomit. 

Brian Jones and Kurt Cobain both died under mysterious circumstances. Both were found dead by their girlfriends, and in both cases some speculate it was actually murder. Legend has it that Jones was murdered by his contractor who was renovating the house. The builder allegdily confessed this on his detah bed. The coroner's report stated "death by misadventure", and noted his liver and heart were heavily enlarged by drug and alcohol abuse. Kurt was found shot in the head with a high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium were also found in his body. In all of these cases the deaths are clearly drug related and accidental except Cobain's. (Unless you believe Courtney killed him). 

What does everyone in the 27 club have in common? Drugs, it's that simple. I've heard some friends come down on me for such a harsh point of view. If Betty White dies tomorrow, I wont be surprised either, because she is old. Being old isn't reckless, in fact it is something you can't help. When you are young and reckless that is something you can change. Abusing drugs is a choice. Although I do feel sad for the loss of their talent and voice, and especially at a young age none of these deaths are very surprising. Dying old is inevitable, dying young is not, it is reckless. I'm 26, and I've always been very in touch with my mortality. Most of my idols are dead or getting up their in age. I have watched most of heroes die in the past 20 years: Freddie Mercury, Joey Ramone and George Harrison. 

I don't understand the 27 club for many reasons, it only seems to mention the same famous 5 who died at 27 when numerous other musicians are also in this category. (Like blues men Robert Johnson) Also, the 27 Club glamorizes dying young. Call me crazy but I always glamorized dying old. Before Amy Winehouse died, she was being booed off stage. Now that she's dead, she is suddenly a legend. So in essence, she is a legend because she is a dead drug addict. That is sad on two levels. Thinking there is something cool about having a drug problem that kills you is pretty messed up. Like with Charlie Sheen in this past year, he's a famous douche bag drug addicted womanizer, and it has been as if society is egging him on. They have been making shirts covered with Sheen's slogan's like "winning" when by all accounts he is totally losing (his children, families respect, etc). I'm also annoyed by the disingenuous opinions of people now that Winehouse has died. Everyone is now parading around all sad to see such a talent go, when just previously they were making fun of her for slurring and forgetfulness on stage. 

Pardon me if I don't buy your sympathy. Any true fan wants their rock star to live to be as old as possible, and produce as much music as they can muster. I also think the whole idea of a rock star feeling the need to perpetuate the life style is mostly the audiences fault. Again as a long time music fan I feel like I can say this at least from my own point of view. I love to see my rock stars party. A lot of us can find ourselves living through them imagining we are meeting all these people, going to all these places and getting all that tail. I think decadence is easy to find when you're rich and famous. This is not just a musician thing. It is easy like I said at the beginning to take things too far. That is where I have the problem. It seems that society loves to see rock stars spiral out of control, instead of just party and live it up. 

I think it is getting worse than ever. I'm growing up in the reality tv generation where people openly take pleasure in pain and watching train wrecks. (See Jerry Springer and Jersey Shore). And for the life of me I don't get it.

A few weeks ago I got a message from one of my young fans from Bite-the-dust.com, thanking me for helping him discover rock and roll. Emails like that are why I do this. I used to be that loner kid who was saved by rock and roll (still am in many ways). But the last part of his message he indicated that he has gotten into the "life style" as well, drinking and doing drugs, smoking cigarettes...he had circled in on what rock and roll portrays as a glamorous life style. He also credited me for that, which I felt wasn't fair. I guess "I" had turned this kid into a rebel. I wasn't about to go into a lecture with him, because I know that is the last thing a kid wants to hear and I'm *not* the parent. But I told him that sex and drugs isn't rock and roll. Most people find this a hard concept to grasp hence the saying "sex drugs and rock and roll."

 Rock and roll is a drug, a high all its own. With these musicians who make it big, their drug starts out as rock and roll, then they combine the three. A person becomes a singer because they love to sing, they play a guitar because they love to play. It's the music that propels you to stardom and it's your passion, not the drugs. You don't have to fit this made up mold to be a rock star or even a rocker. I think that perception is a huge problem. I can see how a musician can feel pressure to live the lifestyle they sing about, but not if it kills you. Ultimately we fans are a selfish bunch, real fans want the singers they love to live forever. Anyone who wants otherwise has missed the bus.

Neil Young sung "It is better to burn out than to fade away" which perfectly sums up the predicament. To young people it is glamorous to live on the edge. That simply isn't true. So yes, I am not surprised that Amy Winehouse is dead, of course from a drug overdose, it is sad but I refuse to glamorize it either. We know much more today than we did thirty years ago. I am mostly referring to sexually transmitted disease like AIDS that killed my beloved Freddie Mercury. But even as far as drugs are concerned, their source and their effects are more well known today. If you can take any lesson away from this: don't do coke or heroine (especially heroine). It is a dangerous drug and most of the members of The 27 Club are proof.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

can't sleep and came across your blog. I'm 70 and discovered the music of the gods in '55. the guitar sounds of berry, diddley, scotty moore les paul really seemed celestially orchestral to me but when Jimi came along around '67 I was blown away. but something has happened to me...i find his gypsy show off persona somehow sad. like the beatles he had to macht shau. i know drugs gave him a key to another world but now when i listen there is a world of drug induced fuck-up-ednessed...maybe because he was a black man trapped by the strictures of racism. today I find his costumes and flamboyance embarrassing...he was too good to have to be known as a super n****r and too talented for the druggy spaceyness. now there is nothing as crassly embarrassing as the japery of Mick Jagger...what a poofter parody and not far behind, the dingle-berry hair of keith richard and his stupid dips with his guitar. still the music is great tho the live shows are pure ham and bad ham at that. thankgod for charlie watts. I don't think these acts burn out so much as chintz out and what could be sadder than fat elvis at the end when compared with the young man who turned tv on its ear. drugs leave a mess but phoney show biz makes for just plain embarrasment. Jimi's boas probably strangled his spirit.

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