Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Won't You Kick With Me?

Today, another talented, young musician lost his battle with heroin: Mike Starr of Alice In Chains. It shocked me I think, not just his death, but that heroin is still so prevalent. I have been touched numerous times by losses because of this drug - and to defend them - they simply cannot stop. They know it is wrong - but the need and the euphoria overcomes reality and hurt.

When the whole Seattle scene first hit - a little earlier for me, pre-PJ and Nirvana. It was Mother Love Bone. It was Andrew Wood - the combination of Marc Bolan, Freddy Mercury and, well, himself. Flamboyant, talented, loving - an addict. In the end, it wasn't the really the bad batch of heroin that took him away from this world - it was an allergic reaction to a medication he received after he OD'd - BUT that addiction, something he knew was killing him, overpowered him and won. He is not alone. Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, Jimmy -  my friend and someone I spent years laughing with, singing with, swooning over and respecting when I recognized his gift as an artist. I cannot hear Stairway or see an And Justice for All T shirt without thinking of him.

It hurts because you want to say, it's so sad that they all died so young - it's not like they had cancer or were in a car accident - but, they were sick. Have you ever seen someone withdraw? The movie Trainspotting gives people a good look at what heroin can do - it brings the best down.

BUT - there are positive stories. Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, who used to talk to stuffed Wizard of Oz dolls like they were real, or Nikki Sixx who had his heart shocked twice when he OD'd - overcoming heroin addiction can happen. Overcoming drug addiction can happen - Robert Downey, Jr or Stevie Ray Vaughan are perfect examples.

Is this an anti-drug rant - hardly. This is just a plea to help those who are addicted - they are beyond recreational - their lives hang in the balance. When you stop to think of the talent lost - the loves left alone to wonder if they could have saved them. Lynyrd Skynryd's song  That Smell  is actually a good example of friends trying to help. About their guitarist Gary Rossington and an infamous car crash, Ronnie Van Zant must have thought telling Gary via song for the whole world to hear was a good way to get his point across:

Angel of darkness is upon you.
Stuck a needle in your arm (you, fool, you)
So take another toke, have a blow for your nose,
one more drink, fool, would drown you. (hell, yeah)

I think a lot of people are hurt right now - Mike had people rooting for him on Celebrity Rehab - and we'll never know what happened inside of his mind. All I can say is, be there for them - if they know they can turn to you, maybe they will. They'll reach out to you and ask you to kick with them.