10 musicians who should be dead, but keep playing

10 musicians who should be dead, but keep playing

MusicOctober 26, 2013

These 10 musicians have ignored normal human limits for years, pushing their bodies and minds to the brink, and yet they live on to make good music. We have no fucking idea how they survive processing more drugs than a Walgreens, but these are your new (kind of fucking old) party idols.

Keith Richards – (Heroin, Cocaine, Alcohol, Everything)

At 70 years old, this Rolling Stone guitarist is finally clean of everything except for the occasional joint or few drinks. He still smokes cigarettes for all of you “Truth” supporters out there. Unlike a lot of people (on this list and in general) he says he never regretted any of his drug use. The man didn’t even stop using cocaine until he was 63, and only then he did so because he fell out of a tree, had to have brain surgery and said to himself it was finally time to stop. Richards also claimed heroin helped him create his best hits, even though Mick Jagger would have the opposite to say, considering “Beast of Burden” is about Jagger feeling like Richards was taking it too far with heroin. You can’t argue with Richards and his love of the alchemy of his own body, mixing chemicals to see what happened and to stay in a drug-induced state as long and as often as humanly possible. Then again, who’s sure he’s really human?

Bob Dylan – (Alcohol, Cigarettes)

This media-labeled voice of the ’60s once claimed the only real drug for him was music, but we know Dylan wasn’t being completely honest. In a press conference one reporter asked him about back then, “Is it true you smoke 100 cigarettes a day?” Of course, Dylan laughed and continued to puff from his endless cigarette. It’s not just the cancer sticks that turned his once young, nasal voice into a slow, pneumatic croak, there’s also the persistent alcohol, the heroin addiction that lasted for weeks back in the ’60s and the never-ending ’70s tour that was loaded with cocaine. After suffering a terrible motorcycle crash in the late ’60s and a potentially fatal heart infection in 1997, he still tours for the majority of the year, every year, so much so that his return to touring in the mid-’70s up until now has been labeled the “Never-Ending Tour.” Dylan must’ve been right when he sung, “I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.”

Ozzy Osbourne – (Cocaine, Alcohol, Heroin)

Perhaps more than anyone on this list, the world knows about Ozzy’s problems related to his addictions all thanks to that highly entertaining, though partially unintelligible, show about his family life titled “The Osbournes.” If you haven’t seen it, the show consisted of Ozzy mumbling random sounds and complaining about life like a crusty senior citizen. The thing is, Ozzy hasn’t been functioning well for awhile; both his wife Sharon and he agree the only reason he’s still alive is because of her. At 64, Ozzy has battled with heroin, cocaine, alcohol and prescription drug addictions. He used to drink so much that he once said, “I can’t even remember when my first child was born.” Well, Ozzy, your first son was born in 1972, just a year after you first tried cocaine and said, “the world became a little bit fuzzy after that.” Even after relapsing 18 months ago on prescription drugs and having the only constant anchor — Sharon Osbourne — in his life separate from him, he’s still alive and is back on tour as of now. Ozzy says he himself is puzzled as to how he survived 40 years of addiction including 10 stints in rehab and more than 40 attempts at sobriety, but the man who once famously ate the head off of a live bat hasn’t walked away unscathed. From the abuse he has a mild hearing loss and Parkin Syndrome, a disease with shakes similar to Parkinson’s, that he takes a daily cocktail of medications for and will for the rest of his life. Oh yeah, and have you ever heard him talk?

Steven Tyler – (Cocaine)

Even though this man looks like some weird cross between a transgender female and a Grateful Dead skeleton, we promise, he is alive. The former Aerosmith front man escaped plenty of demons in the past, including a recent addiction in 2006 to prescription meds and a binge on pills and cocaine during Thanksgiving in2009, only to end up on “American Idol,” which he claims saved him because he’s an adrenaline junkie. Sounds accurate considering in the 1970s alone Steven Tyler spent upwards of $5 million on cocaine. Yet the screaming “Dream On” singer can explain it all, “Drugs took us down, but got us through the ’70s.” Perhaps he’s right, but that doesn’t change the fact that his face looks like wax and his once-screeching voice completely disappeared, like all that cocaine (and money) in the ’70s. He was even snorting Lunesta for a while a few years back. The 65 year old still kicks it on the Idol stage and even performed the national anthem at the 2012 AFC Championship game. Despite the fact that he messed up the lyrics and missed plenty of notes, he’s still alive and kicking, and we have no fucking idea how.

Lil’ Wayne – (Codeine and Promethazine)

At 30 years old, Weezy is the youngest musician on the list, but that’s not to say he hasn’t done his major share of substances. Just six months ago he was admitted to the hospital with seizures from drinking too much lean. Lean, his drug of choice, is a cough syrup combining codeine and promethazine that was made popular in the early 2000s by the chopped and screwed rap movement. All of the founders of that music died in their early 30s. Is Weezy the next lean-addicted rapper to follow that path? In 2005, he praised his drug of choice in the song “Lock and Load,” rapping, “I’m probably drinkin’ that syrup/thinking I won’t slip/ even though I’m leaning like a broken hip.” Even after a stint in Rikers Island in 2010 that forced him into sobriety, he’s got the likes of Turk, Drake and the rest of the rap world worried about him now. To give you an idea of his absurd excess, the average lean dosage is 1-2 ounces. Weezy on the other hand regularly takes 24-32 ounces a day. Nobody is prescribed that much, no matter how bad that “cough” is. Should we start the countdown?

Shifty Shellshock – (Cocaine)

The “Butterfly” singer from Crazy Town has been on four celebrity rehab TV shows and is still using. Even after one of his former band members overdosed during “Sober House 2” back in 2009, he still continues to heavily use cocaine. In 2012, he managed to go into a coma and beat up his girlfriend. Funny to hear about marital problems from the guy who once rapped about a girl being his, “butterfly, sugar baby...” Of course the police found rock cocaine in his pocket after this second incident, and he was sentenced to, wait for it, only three years probation. At least he apologized recently, and his rep claims Shifty has, “completely changed his life around and has checked into a highly regarded drug and alcohol treatment center,” and he’s even quit smoking cigarettes cold turkey. Well good for Shifty, but if Dr. Drew couldn’t help him, who can?

David Bowie – (Cocaine, Cigarettes)

The original proponent of glam rock once had such a notorious cocaine habit that John Lennon and Elton John were horrified by it. In the ’70s he started heavily using Quaaludes in Hollywood only to move to New York and onto cocaine. Bowie got to the point that he couldn’t go on stage without a line. It’s no wonder that, for a period of time, he thought he was from space. He even had an alien diet, living for awhile solely on peppers, cocaine and milk. His addictions lasted for most of the ’70s and ’80s, but were probably the worst in 1980 when his good friend John Lennon died. After that, he went on a bender smoking about 80 cigarettes a day, drinking endless cups of coffee and sleeping with as many people as he possibly could. The main culprit was always cocaine, and there were plenty of witnesses — John, Lennon, Lou Reed — who all acknowledge the fact that Bowie would show up to any hotel, party or house with mounds of cocaine and would often, in a dramatic fashion, unload it all on a table and proceed to do as much as he could fit up his nose. With all of that cocaine and all of his sexual freedom, how is this man still alive? Well, he’s been sober for the last few decades and no longer takes to the glam rock star lifestyle. That’s cool and all, but we haven’t heard anything from Ziggy Stardust in way too long.

Lou Reed – (Heroin, Alcohol)

As mentioned in the previous one, Reed was worried about Bowie’s cocaine habit, but perhaps he should’ve thought once or twice about his own drug habits. The Velvet Underground singer who sang about taking a walk on the wild side didn’t hesitate to take as many as he wanted. In 1964, in a cascading seven-minute ballad to his drug of choice, you can really see how far he walked into addiction in the song “Heroin.” In it, he sang, “Heroin, be the death of me/Heroin, it’s my wife and it’s my life.” That’s pretty hardcore when we’re dealing with H. Reed was also heavily dependent on alcohol, downing a half pint of whiskey a day in the late ’70s. But still, he tried to rationalize his abuse, claiming they kept him in a natural, caveman-
like state. That may be slightly valid with all of the constant interruptions flooding our lives nowadays, but we doubt it’ll cure his hepatitis, and without all that technology, he definitely wouldn’t have been able to get a liver transplant. Hey, but at least he’s sober now. It only took a new liver to rid him of his heavy addictions.

Nikki Six - (Heroin, Alcohol)

In the ’80s there was plenty of big hair and rock music for everybody, but another constant that seemed to aid the music making process was heroin. This Motley Cru bassist was addicted to it for years, along with alcohol, and went to such ridiculous excess that he actually died once … during a concert. Before the show, he and a fellow band mate had been doing heroin and drinking for the entire day, having downed more than half a case of whiskey and who knows how much heroin. Then, surprise, surprise, his heart gave out and he died for several minutes on stage only to be revived by not one, but two shots of adrenaline by a fan (that’s some hardcore fan). The best part, after medical assistants made sure he was OK and he was conscious, he escaped their grasp and ran away only to do more heroin. This is probably one story of many, but still that’s pretty damned hardcore. At least he wasn’t the only one doing heroin in the ’80s, and at least he wasn’t as bad as the final musician...

Slash - (Alcohol, Heroin)

We’ve come a long way since Keith Richards and Weezy, but perhaps we’ve saved the best (or worst) for last. The former lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses — known for his iconic top hat and aviators look, and ’80s rock solos — has had his fair share of problems with substances, and he’s only 44. You think that’s kind of young? Well, it’s not when you had a pacemaker installed at 36. He’s quoted as saying he took heroin because it complemented his personality and it provided him an escape. Sounds like a contradiction, but you know how rock stars are, or at least we hope you do after this article. But for real, what hasn’t Slash done? In September of ’92 he died for eight minutes after a crack, cocaine and heroin binge. In the mornings Slash used to say "fuck coffee" and drink vodka instead. Oh yeah, and his normal alcohol consumption was half a case of Jack; not a bottle, a case. That’s pretty fucking legendary. And somehow, thanks to the crazy ass rock gods, he’s still alive.