Friday, June 24, 2011

The Unsound of Music Part 1

Two years after Michael Jackson's death, there are still no answers - no concrete ones, anyway. There's endless speculation, skeletons continue to tumble out of the closet and in the most ironic of twists, the estate of MJ is raking in posthumous profits - lack of money was something that plagued him in his final years, with Neverland foreclosed, debts that kept on mounting and the out-of-court settlements on pedophilia lawsuits that left him almost bankrupt.  He wasn't the only troubled entertainer in the world of music, though - the history of music is laden with many troubled souls who made beautiful music but turned to drugs or suicide to end what seemed to be lives not worth living. Here are some whose legacies live on in their music.
Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley: Jan 8, 1935 - Aug 16, 1977
The man who gave leather pants and sideburns 'sexy' status, this original 'rebel' died at the age of 42 owing to prescription drug abuse. For someone who'd tasted wild success in his career, could hold the audience in his sway both on the radio and live, could sing in a variety of genres and had what seemed to be a picture-perfect marriage (that ended in a bitter divorce), he died of an overdose that led to anaphylactic shock. The autopsy is said to have revealed 14 different drugs in his system, some of which he was allergic to.
This was another case where the ethics of the prescribing doctors came into question. When the case was reopened in the '90s, the cause of death was changed to a "sudden, violent heart attack". But no one knows what exactly transpired that fateful night inside Graceland.
Karen Carpenter
Karen Carpenter: Mar 2, 1950 — Feb 4, 1983
Blessed with a voice that was a cure for heartaches of all shapes, sizes and durations, Karen Carpenter could not find a song in her eminently uplifting repertoire to heal her own heart. For someone who gave the world some of the most hummable songs of hope and love, Karen Carpenter of the brother-sister Carpenters duo was plagued by such self-doubt that she succumbed to anorexia at a very young age of 33.
Karen, known for her versatile voice that can coax even the most reluctant bathroom singer to sing along to her songs, was anorexic for years. Reports say that at the age of 32, when she was looking extremely emaciated, she opted for an 8-week long treatment upon the advice of a doctor, gaining 30 pounds in the process, leading to further strain on her already damaged heart from years of crash dieting. Just a month before her 33rd birthday, she succumbed to heart failure brought on by anorexia.
Michael Hutchence
Michael Hutchence: Jan 22, 1960 — Nov 22, 1997
Australian Michael Hutchence, lead singer of  rock band INXS, committed suicide at the age of 37. Known for his in-your-face flamboyant persona onstage, he was the enigmatic front-man of the band but was said to be extremely introverted in his personal life.
After a string of accidents and unsuccessful love affairs, Hutchence took his own life and was found dead in his hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton in Sydney. Blood reports showed high levels of cocaine, alcohol and prescription drugs, though his then lover, Paula Yates, later claimed in a TV interview that he may have died due to autoerotic asphyxiation.
Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix - Nov 27, 1942 - Sep 18, 1970
Often hailed as the greatest electric guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix continues to be an icon even 41 years after his death. His death was one of the most violent deaths in celebrity land and speculation continues even today as to the cause of it.
It was widely reported that his death was triggered by an overdose of, believe it or not, wine. His then girlfriend is rumoured to have made him consume German sleeping pills, which compounded by the alcohol already in his system, caused him to vomit and choke on it. An astonishing amount of wine was discovered in his system, on his clothes, in his hair and all around him.
Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison - Dec 8, 1943 — Jul 3, 1971
James Douglas Morrison, the frontman of music's most-loved rebel act, The Doors, was the primary reason for the birth of the epithet 'contemporary poet'. His deepest influence was a road accident involving American Indians that he supposedly witnessed while he was 4 years old, something that found mention in many of his songs. Though his father's version of the events are in stark contrast to what he saw, he continued to maintain that he saw what he saw - bleeding American Indians by the roadside.
Once he'd tasted commercial success, he became more of a wildchild, turning up inebriated or late for recordings and performances and once even attempted to spark a riot during a gig, and had a warrant issued for his arrest for indecent exposure. To possibly introspect, he moved to Paris. Three months later, he was found dead in his bathtub, with the official account suspecting no foul play. However, some accounts say he died of a heroin/cocaine overdose and his long-time companion, Pamela Courson, came under suspicion for her many contradictory versions of his death.

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