Let me preface this article by stating that I think Dr. Drew Pinsky–the addiction medicine specialist behind “Loveline,” “Lifechangers,” and most notably VH1′s “Celebrity Rehab” and its spinoff shows, “Sex Rehab” and “Sober House”–does some fine work. Many celebrities that he has treated, like Mackenzie Phillips and “American Idol’s” Nikki McKibbin, not to mention countless non-celebs, have been greatly helped by the good doctor. But Dr. Drew is not a miracle worker, and a (somewhat exploitative) reality show about addiction treatment is certainly no instant cure-all. And never has this been more apparent than it is now, in light of the suicide of troubled country singer Mindy McCready. Mindy, a veteran of “Celebrity Rehab” Season 3 who famously suffered an on-camera seizure when she was on the show, is the fifth “Rehab” alum to die in just the past two years.
The first “Celebrity Rehab” casualty was Mindy’s Season 3 castmate, former Alice In Chains bassist Mike Starr (who also starred on “Sober House”); he died of a prescription drug overdose in March 2011. Not long before his death, it seemed like he’d finally turned his life around when he guested on the finale of “Celebrity Rehab 4″ to give that cast’s members a pep talk; Dr. Drew couldn’t get over how much the seemingly cleaned-up Mike had transformed, and it looked like Mike might be one of the lucky ones, an addict who finally beats the odds. But it wasn’t long before Mike was busted for felony possession of a controlled substance (six Xanax pills and six Opana pills), and he later met a tragic end. He was 46 years old.
Only two months after Mike’s death, actor Jeff Conaway, who participated on “Rehab’s” first and second seasons seeking treatment for painkiller addiction, died after he aspirated medications into his lungs and developed pneumonia. He was 60 years old. A year later, in June 2012, police brutality victim Rodney King, who starred on Season 2 and stayed sober for more than a year afterwards, drowned in his swimming pool after mixing alcohol and marijuana and going into cardiac arrest. He was 47. And then, two months after Rodney’s death, Joey Kovar, a “Real World” star who signed up for “Celebrity Rehab 3″ to receive treatment for his addictions to alcohol, various illegal substances, and steroids, died from opiate intoxication. He was 29.
Add to this tragic tally Warrant frontman Jani Lane. Jani didn’t appear on “Celebrity Rehab” per se, but he received similar addiction treatment on another celebrity-improvement VH1 show, “Celebrity Fit Club,” after it became clear that excessive drinking, not just the usual over-eating and under-exercising, was the real cause for his declining health. Jani appeared clean and sober, and much slimmer, by the season finale of “Fit Club” in 2005, but he died six years later from acute alcohol poisoning. He was 47.
And now there is the sad statistic of Mindy McCready—the fifth “Celebrity Rehab” death, third “Celebrity Rehab” Season 3 death, and sixth VH1-star death in just two years. She was only 37 years old, and she leaves two young children behind. Dr. Drew released a statement Sunday evening via Buzzfeed, saying:
“I am deeply saddened by this awful news. My heart goes out to Mindy’s family and children. She is a lovely woman who will be missed by many. Although I have not treated her for few years, I had reached out to her recently upon hearing about the apparent suicide of her boyfriend and father of her younger children. She was devastated. Although she was fearful of stigma and ridicule she agreed with me that she needed to make her health and safety a priority. Unfortunately it seems that Mindy did not sustain her treatment.
“Mental health issues can be life threatening and need to be treated with the same intensity and resources as any other dangerous potentially life threatening medical condition. Treatment is effective. If someone you know is suffering please be sure he or she gets help and maintains treatment.”
Surely by now, Dr. Drew—and VH1′s viewers—must realize that shows like “Celebrity Rehab” don’t always have a happy ending. And that definitely brings new meaning to the term “reality television.”
Troubled country singer Mindy McCready, age 37, has died of an apparent suicide, the result of a single self-inflicted gunshot, the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed. According to E! News, McCready shot herself and her dog. The Associated Press reports that her body was found 4pm Sunday on the front porch of her home in Heber Springs, Arkansas, after neighbors heard gunshots and called the police.
McCready leaves behind two children, 6-year-old Zander and 9-month-old Zayne. Her death comes just a little more than a month after the death of her boyfriend, songwriter David Wilson, age 34. Wilson’s death is still under investigation.
McCready’s tragic death follows a recent commitment to rehab and her children being removed from her home. A petition filed by McCready’s father this year revealed serious issues in the singer’s life, including alcohol and prescription drug abuse, as well as erratic behavior. According to a report from E!, who exclusively obtained the file, Tim McCready attested that his daughter had taken to her bed since the death of her boyfriend last month. “Sleeps all day,” he reported. “Drinks all night and is taking Rx drugs.”
Ray Collins (November 19, 1936 – December 24, 2012) was an American musician.
Collins grew up in Pomona, California singing in his school choir, the son of a local police officer. He quit high school to get married.
He started his musical career singing falsetto backup vocals for various ‘doo-wop’ groups in the Los Angeles area in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including Little Julian Herrera and the Tigers. In 1964, Collins, drummer Jimmy Carl Black and bassist Roy Estrada joined with Frank Zappa to form The Soul Giants, which, under Zappa’s leadership, turned into the Mothers of Invention. Ray was the lead vocalist on the Mothers early albums, including Freak Out!, Absolutely Free and Cruising with Ruben & the Jets. He contributed to other Zappa projects through the mid-1970s.
Collins resided in Claremont, California, until his death on December 24, 2012. He was 76 years old.
Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf August 22, 1934 – December 27, 2012) was a United States Army general who, while he served as Commander of U.S. Central Command, was commander of coalition forces in the Gulf War.
In 1988, he was promoted to General and was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command. The U.S. Central Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Florida, was responsible at the time for operations in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. In his capacity as commander, Schwarzkopf prepared a detailed plan for the defense of the oil fields of the Persian Gulf against a hypothetical invasion by Iraq, among other plans.
The Iraq plan served as the basis of the wargame of 1990. Within the same month, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and Schwarzkopf’s plan had an immediate practical application, which was as the basis for Operation Desert Shield, the defense of Saudi Arabia. As overall commander, Schwarzkopf initially was concerned that operational forces in the theater were inadequately supplied and equipped for large-scale combat in a desert environment. During preparations for Desert Storm, as the result of initiatives by General Schwarzkopf, the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) with Desert camouflage was produced in 100% cotton poplin without reinforcement panels in order to improve comfort for U.S. troops operating in the hot, dry desert conditions. A total of 500,000 improved cotton BDUs were ordered. However, cost concerns caused the cotton six-color Desert BDU to be discontinued shortly after the Gulf War. A few months later, General Schwarzkopf’s offensive operational plan, called Operation Desert Storm (co-authored with his deputy commander, Lieutenant General Cal Waller and others on his staff), was the “left hook” strategy that went into Iraq behind the Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait and was widely credited with bringing the ground war to a close in just four days. He was personally very visible in the conduct of the war, giving frequent press conferences, and was dubbed “Stormin’ Norman.”
Jacob Joachim “Jack” Klugman (April 27, 1922 – December 24, 2012) was an American stage, film and television actor.
Klugman began his career in the late 1940s on the stage. He later moved on to television and film work with roles in 12 Angry Men (1957) and Cry Terror! (1958). During the 1960s, he guest starred on numerous television series. Klugman won his first Primetime Emmy Award for his guest starring role on The Defenders, in 1964. He also made a total of four appearances on The Twilight Zone from 1960 to 1963.
In 1970, Klugman reprised his Broadway role of Oscar Madison in the television adaptation of The Odd Couple, opposite Tony Randall. The series aired from 1970 to 1975. Klugman won his second and third Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for his work on the series. From 1976 to 1983, he starred in the title role in Quincy, M.E. for which he earned four Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
A long-time smoker, Klugman was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974. The cancer returned in 1989. During the course of treatment, Klugman lost a vocal cord which left him with a raspy voice.
Klugman married actress Brett Somers in 1953. The couple had two children before separating in 1974. They never divorced and were still married when Somers died in 2007. He married Peggy Crosby, with whom he lived since 1988, the following year. Klugman died on December 24, 2012 at the age of 90.
Charles Durning (February 28, 1923 – December 24, 2012) was an American actor, with appearances in over 200 movies, television shows and plays. Durning’s memorable roles included the Oscar-winning The Sting (1973) and crime drama Dog Day Afternoon (1975), along with the comedies Tootsie, To Be or Not to Be and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the last two of which earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. He also won a Tony award for his portrayal of Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1990.
Also his role as Otis in Dark Night Of The Scarecrow.
Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) was an American musician and artist, best known as the lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter of the grunge band Nirvana. Cobain formed Nirvana with Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1985 and established it as part of the Seattle music scene, having its debut album Bleach released on the independent record label Sub Pop in 1989.
After signing with major label DGC Records, the band found breakthrough success with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from its second album Nevermind (1991). Following the success of Nevermind, Nirvana was labeled “the flagship band” of Generation X, and Cobain hailed as “the spokesman of a generation”. Cobain, however, was often uncomfortable and frustrated, believing his message and artistic vision to have been misinterpreted by the public, with his personal issues often subject to media attention. He challenged Nirvana’s audience with its final studio album In Utero (1993).
During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with heroin addiction, illness and depression. He also had difficulty coping with his fame and public image, and the professional and lifelong personal pressures surrounding himself and his wife, musician Courtney Love. On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, the victim of what was officially ruled a suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. The circumstances of his death at age 27 have become a topic of public fascination and debate. Since their debut, Nirvana, with Cobain as a songwriter, has sold over 25 million albums in the U.S., and over 50 million worldwide.
Darrell Lance Abbott (August 20, 1966 – December 8, 2004), also known as Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell, was an American guitarist. A founding member of the groove metal band Pantera, as well as Damageplan, Abbott also contributed to the record Rebel Meets Rebel, a collaboration between Pantera and David Allan Coe. Darrell is considered to be one of the driving forces behind groove metal.
Abbott was shot and killed while on stage during a Damageplan performance on December 8, 2004, at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. He ranked 92 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists and #1 in the UK magazine Metal Hammer.
John Ono Lennon MBE, born John Winston Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a founder member of the Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Together with Paul McCartney, he formed one of the most celebrated songwriting partnerships of the 20th century.
Born and raised in Liverpool, Lennon became involved as a teenager in the skiffle craze; his first band, the Quarrymen, evolved into the Beatles in 1960. As the group disintegrated towards the end of the decade, Lennon embarked on a solo career that produced the critically acclaimed albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and iconic songs such as “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine“. After his marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969, he changed his name to John Ono Lennon. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to devote time to raising his infant son Sean, but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the new album Double Fantasy. He was murdered three weeks after its release.
Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved to New York City in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon‘s administration to deport him, while some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement.
As of 2012 Lennon’s solo album sales in the United States exceed 14 million units, and as writer, co-writer or performer, he is responsible for 25 number-one singles on the US Hot 100 chart. In 2002 a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons voted him eighth, and in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all-time. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
Link to last years National Dimebag/Lennon Day: