American Horror Story fans got a surprise Monday as tidbits of information about Season 6 appeared on social media channels for the show. Many were certain the Season 6 theme would soon be announced after these channels went black on June 14; however, as of Monday, the AHS Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts don profile pictures… Continue reading
Justin Timberlake has publicly apologized after receiving a wave of backlash for a tweet praising Jesse Williams’ impassioned speech Sunday night at the BET Awards. Mr. Williams received a standing ovation after he addressed systemic racism in the U.S. and the appropriation of black culture in the entertainment industry. Mr. Timberlake, who is white, wrote simply… Continue reading
Rihanna and Sia previously penned a smash-hit tune about glittering objects floating in the infinity of space. So it’s a natural fit that they’d return to collaborating for the new “Star Trek Beyond” film. Rihanna has released a new single, “Sledgehammer,” from the sci-fi epic’s soundtrack. The song is in a new trailer for the film,… Continue reading
Prince’s autopsy has determined that the artist died of an accidental overdose of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The news comes on the heels of the death of former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza, who collapsed on stage and died in late May.
Indeed, it seems as though before we can even finish mourning the loss of one pop star, another falls. There’s no shortage of groundbreaking artists who die prematurely, whether it’s Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley or Hank Williams.
As a physician, I’ve begun to wonder: Is being a superstar incompatible with a long, healthy life? Are there certain conditions that are more likely to cause a star’s demise? And finally, what might be some of the underlying reasons for these early deaths?
To find out the answer to each of these questions, I analyzed the 252 individuals who made Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest artists of the rock & roll era.
More than their share of accidents
To date, 82 of the 252 members of this elite group have died.
There were six homicides, which occurred for a range of reasons, from the psychiatric obsession that led to the shooting of John Lennon to the planned “hits” on rappers Tupac Shakur and Jam Master Jay. There’s still a good deal of controversy about the shooting of Sam Cooke by a female hotel manager (who was likely protecting a prostitute who had robbed Cooke). Al Jackson Jr., the renowned drummer with Booker T & the MGs, was shot in the back five times in 1975 by a burglar in a case that still baffles authorities.
An accident can happen to anyone, but these artists seem to have more than their share. There were numerous accidental overdoses – Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols at age 21, David Ruffin of the Temptations at 50, The Drifters’ Rudy Lewis at 27, and country great Gram Parsons, who was found dead at 26.
And while your odds of dying in a plane crash are about one in five million, if you’re on Rolling Stone’s list, those odds jump to one in 84: Buddy Holly, Otis Redding and Ronnie Van Zant of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Band all died in airplane accidents while on tour.
A drink, a smoke and a jolt
Among the general population, liver-related diseases are behind only 1.4 percent of deaths. Among the Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists, however, the rate is three times that.
It’s likely tied to the elevated alcohol and drug use among artists. Liver bile duct cancers – which are extremely rare – happened to two of the top 100, with Ray Manzarek of The Doors and Tommy Ramone of the Ramones both succumbing prematurely from a cancer that normally affects one in 100,000 people a year.
The vast majority of those on Rolling Stone’s list were born in the 1940s and reached maturity during the 1960s, when tobacco smoking peaked. So not surprisingly, a significant portion of artists died from lung cancer: George Harrison of the Beatles at age 58, Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys at 51, Richard White of Pink Floyd at 65, Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations at 52 and Obie Benson of the Four Tops at 69. Throat cancer – also linked with smoking – caused the deaths of country great Carl Perkins at 65 and Levon Helm of The Band at 71.
A good number from the list had heart attacks or heart failure, such as Ian Stewart of the Rolling Stones at 47 and blues greats Muddy Waters at 70, Howlin Wolf at 65, Roy Orbison at 52 and Jackie Wilson at 49.
We recently saw The Eagles’ Glenn Frey succumb to pneumonia, but so did soul singer Jackie Wilson at age 49, nine years after a massive heart attack. James Brown complained of a persistent cough and declining health before he passed at 73, with the cause of death listed as congestive heart failure as a result of pneumonia.
Currently, the U.S. is in the midst of an opioid abuse epidemic, with heroin and prescription drug overdoses happening at historic rates.
But for rock stars, opioid abuse is nothing new. Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious, Gram Parsons, Whitney Houston (who didn’t make the list), Michael Jackson and now Prince all died from accidental opioid overdoses.
Two key findings
One of the two shocking findings of this analysis deals with life expectancy. Among those dead, the average age was 49, which is the same as Chad, the country with the lowest life expectancy in the world. The average American male has a life expectancy of about 76 years.
Factoring in their birth year and a life expectancy of 76 years, only 44 should have died by now. Instead, 82 have. (Incidentally, of the 44 we would have expected to be dead by now, 19 are still alive.)
The second shocking discovery was the sobering and disproportional
occurrence of alcohol- and drug-related deaths.
There was Kurt Cobain’s gunshot suicide while intoxicated and Duane Allman’s drunk driving motorcycle crash. Members of legendary bands like The Who (John Entwistle, 57, and Keith Moon, 32), The Doors (Jim Morrison, 27), The Byrds (Gene Clark, 46, and Micheal Clarke, 47) and The Band (Rick Danko, 55, and Richard Manuel, 42) all succumbed to alcohol or drugs.
Others – The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and country star Hank Williams – steadily declined from substance abuse while their organs deteriorated. Their official causes of death were heart-related. In truth, the cause may have been more directly related to substance abuse.
In all, alcohol and drugs accounted for at least one in 10 of these great artists’ deaths.
Does a quest for fame lead to an early demise?
Many have explored the root causes behind these premature deaths.
One answer may come from dysfunctional childhoods: experiencing physical or sexual abuse, having a depressed parent or having a family broken up by tragedy or divorce. An article published in the British Medical Journal found that “adverse childhood experiences” may act as a motivator to become successful and famous as a way to move past childhood trauma.
The authors noted an increased incidence of these adverse childhood experiences among famous artists. Unfortunately, the same adverse experiences also predispose people to depression, drug use, risky behaviors and premature death.
A somewhat similar hypothesis is proposed by the Self Determination Theory, which addresses human motivation through the lens of “intrinsic” versus “extrinsic” life aspirations. People who have intrinsic goals seek inward happiness and contentment. On the other hand, people who possess extrinsic goals focus on material success, fame and wealth – the exact sort of thing attained by these exceptional artists. According to research, people who have extrinsic goals tend to have had less-involved parents and are more likely to experience bouts of depression.
A good deal of research has also explored the fine line between creative genius and mental illness across a wide range of disciplines. They include authors (Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway), scholars (Aristotle and Isaac Newton), classical composers (Beethoven, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky), painters (Van Gogh), sculptors (Michelangelo) and contemporary musical geniuses.
Psychiatrist Arnold Ludwig, in his meta-analysis of over 1,000 people, “The Price of Greatness: Resolving the Creativity and Madness Controversy,” concluded that artists, compared to other professions, were much more likely to have mental illnesses, and were prone to being afflicted with them for longer periods of time.
Meanwhile, Cornell psychiatrist William Frosch, author of “Moods, madness, and music: Major affective disease and musical creativity,” was able to connect the creativity of groundbreaking musical artists to their psychiatric disorders. According to Frosch, their mental illnesses were behind their creative output.
My review also confirmed a greater incidence of mood disorders among these Great 100 rock stars. Numerous studies have shown that depression, bipolar disease and related diagnoses come with an increased risk for premature death, suicide and addiction.
By following the relationship between genius and mental illness, mental illness and substance abuse, and then substance abuse, health problems and accidental death, you can see why so many great artists seem almost destined for a premature or drug-induced demise.
The biggest night in theatre is here with the Tony Awards 2016. James Corden is hosting the celebration live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City. The 70th Annual gala will be live streamed on the CBS All Access App available for iOS, Android and internet connected devices. Fans will also be able to view… Continue reading
One of the hottest couples in Hollywood is about to be no more.
On Monday, actress Amber Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp citing “irreconcilable differences” after only 15 months of marriage.
Depp, who left his girlfriend of 14 years and mother of his children for Heard, had made a string of poorly received movies recently and went out of his way to come to Heard’s aid when she got into a bit of trouble trying to smuggle her dog into Australia, for which she was convicted of the crime and released a cringe-worthy video apology with Depp.
Heard has reportedly asked for alimony from Depp, to which he has resounded a big fat “No”. While Depp is a multimillionaire, the young actress has only been in a few movies and clearly hopes to leave the marriage with some of Depp’s fortune to start a new life. There’s no word, yet, about whether they have an active prenuptial agreement.
Missy Elliott released a long-anticipated new song and music video on Thursday titled “WTF (Where They From),” delighting fans who may have needed a little more Missy in their lives. Elliott, 44, is beloved by those who remember her numerous 1990s and early-aughts hits, including “Get Ur Freak On” and “Work It.” She has won five… Continue reading
In probably the worst PR flop a pop singer could make this day in age, Azealia Banks took to twitter the other day to say she felt the LGBT community is “like the gay white KKK”.
Let’s say you’re a woman. A bisexual woman. And let’s say you’re also African American and a musician. You probably have a lot of pent up rage that could send you into a rapping frenzy at any moment. When those lyrics are spit, you probably use poetic license to back up your right to free speech, and you probably get away with it most of the time because music is an art form and art has a long history of being radical and challenging the system we live in.
But when you say something on Twitter, you aren’t appropriated a poetic license. Twitter is a communications tool and, unless you’re known for shocking performance art involving social media, you should probably watch what you say. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that Anthony Cumia of the Opie and Anthony Show got fired from Sirius XM for his racist twitter tirade regarding a black female who assaulted him in the middle of the night in Times Square after he took pictures of her butt. If entertainers should have learned anything from that event, it’s that the things you say online under your own name will be held against you in the court of public opinion. Why, then, would Azealia Banks say such a thing without thinking?
Probably because she’s an idiot.
She removed the original tweet, but here’s a screenshot:
Afterwards, she received some backlash to which she responded the following typical backpedaling we always see from pop stars with below average intelligence:
There is so much wrong with these tweets, I’m not sure where to start so let’s just take it from the top..
“All I had to do is say one word and I moved a whole community. What weaklings!!!”
So, you moved a community and you think that makes them weak? Last I checked, weakness is when people do nothing in the face of bigotry…
“You boys gotta toughen up!!! Don’t be so weak !!! If one word can put your entire community in distress you’re DOOMED”
The thing is, not all people are the same. Some people are sensitive. That’s part of being alive in a society where divergent lifestyles, cultures, races, religions and personalities exist. Being insensitive to words that hurt people with access to the internet (such as gay fans, perhaps?) means you don’t give a hoot about anyone but yourself. It’s called “tolerance”, Azealia, learn it.
“You all CHOSE to get upset. Remember… Offense is only TAKEN, it is never given.”
This is some immature thinking. I used to think like that, too. I also used to think it was OK to hit someone when they wouldn’t stop taunting me. See, I was in middle school. I’m 36 years old now and made enough mistakes to know that violence doesn’t solve anything and only makes things worse. The same goes for saying shitty things on a loud speaker in front of THE ENTIRE WORLD. How old are you, Ms. Banks? 24? Maybe I’ll give you a pass….for now….
None of this is shocking at this point, as Banks has been on somewhat of a rampage with her gay bashing and proclamations that she should be able to say whatever she wants. After an altercation with a flight attendant caught on video where Banks called the attendant a “F*cking F*ggot”, she tweeted that she was bisexual, that her brother was transsexual and that her employees were all gay men:
This type of behavior is residual from decades of gay bashing that made the word “F*ggot” a pejorative for not just gay people but anyone you don’t like, a topic that became a bit in comedian Louis CK’s arsenal from his Chewed Up stand-up special in 2008. While it works as a comedy routine in his special way of getting around actually offending people, he also brings the word to reality in the second episode of his hit TV show Louie on FX when a group of comics are sitting around playing cards and the topic comes up when one of them, Nick DiPaolo, asks a gay comic at the table, Rick Crom, what it feels like to *ahem* receive anal sex. Crom goes on to explain the emotional pain that the f-word brings back up. See, in the Middle Ages, a “faggot” meant “a bundle of sticks to build a fire” and, since society felt gay people were so sub-human that they equated to fire kindle, they would throw gay people on the fire instead of strapping them to a stake with the witches. Yea. It’s that horrible of a slur. In fact, it’s as bad as saying the n-word to a black person.
Unfortunately, Azealia Banks doesn’t think so. She thinks it’s totally OK to say whatever you want, which is great, but she should also, maybe, perhaps censor herself a LITTLE bit… at least when using twitter.
Some new characters cast to save a show from certain death do the opposite of said desired result, and Josh Meyers on That 70s Show is a perfect example.
I sometimes look for an old sitcom to put on in the background while I work and recently found myself in a That 70s Show binge. It was fun at first because the laughter sounded like it was a real studio audience. Then the second season hit and it started feeling like a fake audience mixed in with the real one, but at least the show still had decent writing, clever jokes and running gags galore, and the casting and acting worked. It wasn’t until I finally hit the 8th season that I realized why the show was cut short.
That might sound weird because the show wasn’t officially cancelled but concluded in 2006 at the end of the 8th season, but it was pretty obvious why. Sure, season 7 had a big drop in ratings which could have possibly meant that the Wednesday night audience just wasn’t interested anymore, and it could have really meant that the show had already run its course since both Topher Grace (Eric) and Ashton Kutcher (Kelso) had already decided to pursue film careers exclusively. But you know what REALLY killed the show for me? The new characters, specifically Josh Meyers.
Josh Meyers is the brother of Late Night star Seth Meyers, whom I don’t particularly like either. The two of them have a shit-eating grin forever plastered to their face that brings my hatred of humanity to new heights every time I see them. It wasn’t just that Seth would laugh at his own jokes on SNL which pushed me over the edge, it was that his jokes just weren’t that funny yet his facial expression told a whole other story. He’s marketable, and that’s about it. There’s no artistry, only junior high level humor and the crux of his theatrical presence levitates right on the line of mediocrity. He’s a personality and it’ll probably work for Late Night for years to come, but I hope I never see him in an actual acting role.
Josh, on the other hand, has had a few and I’m still trying to figure out why. In season 8 of That 70s Show he’s the worst addition to a cast I’ve ever seen. While all the other main characters have strong, distrinctive personalities, Meyers’ is virtually non-existent. He looks perfect and only serves as a tool to push the story along. The other more perfect-looking people, Kelso and Jackie, ran archetypes that offset the more normal, geeky characters I grew to love by season 2. These new characters, though? The producers should be ashamed of themselves; Josh Meyers should have been strapped to a chair and beaten for a while before being allowed on set. It would have given him character. He was a terrible replacement for Eric Foreman, but more importantly he was a poor excuse for an actor.
I realized I hated Seth Meyers around the time that he had his brother Josh on Late Night to talk about their family. Guess what? I don’t care about your family. I want to hear about the entertainment industry, that’s why I tune into talk shows like that. It turns out, Seth worked a similar thing into his Weekend Update on SNL a few years ago as well. I looked it up to see if it was funny. It wasn’t. Again, I don’t care about your family, the jokes are only funny to you and your friends, not to me as a viewer. It’s a bigger waste of time than watching a sitcom in the first place. I mean, I’ve already chosen to waste my time and laugh at dumb jokes, but now you’re going to make jokes that only you think are funny and the audience is laughing nervously to? Argh, someone kill their careers please.
So, That 70s Show finally fell apart for me. Only 9 years late, I guess. To be honest, I don’t think I missed anything. Aside from the cultural relevance of helping to push pot smoking into the mainstream throughout the early 2000s, the show’s only real relevance is being the start of four actors’ careers.
Hurrah, ladies! The 18 year long relationship Hamm had with actress and screenwriter Jennifer Westfeldt has finally come to a close.