Honoring Musicians Lost to Alcohol Abuse

 In Addiction & Recovery Ins and Outs, Alcohol Abuse & The Arts

Sadly, we have lost many brilliant artists to alcohol abuse. Here is a list of a few notable musicians who have died, taken too early from their calling, because of alcohol.

Billie Holliday

Billie Holliday is one of America’s most famous jazz musician. An incredibly talented singer and songwriter, Billie also happened to have a bad drinking habit. She was wildly successful and her unique style inspired musicians everywhere. She recorded with Columbia Records and worked with greats like Count Basie and Louis Armstrong. She was eventually diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, though, a condition commonly caused by alcoholism. She tried to get sober, but relapsed and eventually passed away from this awful disease at the early age of 44.

She will be remembered, though, as one of the greatest jazz singers of all time.

Jim Morrison

Another extremely famous singer and songwriter, Jim Morrison is most known for being the lead singer of The Doors. With his deadly looks, unique voice, and wild ways, Jim was one of the most adored musicians of the time. Sadly, he had an ever progressing drinking problem that started to impede his performance ability. He died famously in the bathtub of his hotel room in Paris, after recording his last album with The Doors, of reported heart failure.

Regardless of the many rumors and conspiracies around Morrison’s death, most agree that we must accept it was his alcohol addiction that ultimately caused it. He was only 28 years old. Rest in peace, Jim.

John Bonham

Ranked number 1 in The Rolling Stone’s list of “The 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time,” Jon Bonham -aka Bonzo- will go down in history. Known for his speed and groove, Bonham, played for Led Zeppelin—one of the most famous rock bands in history. Stairway to Heaven, Immigrant Song, Black Dog, come on! Their list of hits seems never ending. Tragically, this talented drummer died at the young age of 32 after drinking about 40 shots of vodka. He died in his sleep, accidentally asphyxiated on vomit.

The heartbeat of this wildly successful band, John Bonham will always be upheld as a great artist who was taken too early from this world.

Ron “Pigpen” McKernan

Pigpen is one of the founding members of the group that would famously be known as The Grateful Dead. He was the original front man of the Dead, playing the electric organ and harmonica as well. He developed a drinking problem at a young age though, which contributed to his early death. He also was diagnosed with biliary cirrhosis—unrelated to his drinking, but also causing him health problems. Due to health complications, he had to stop touring for good in 1972. He died about a year later, from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage, at the age of 27.

The Grateful Dead would go on without him, but they would be a changed band from then on.

Amy Winehouse

A firecracker artist, jazz inspired musician, this singer and songwriter was acclaimed. Amy Winehouse won five Grammys from the single album, Back to Black. In her whole career, she won 23 awards and was nominated 60 times. Winehouse did struggle with alcoholism, though, which is ironically addressed in her famous song “Rehab.” Turns out, she did need rehab and sadly never got the help she needed. Five years after that song was recorded, she died of alcohol poisoning at age 27.

Hopefully, this vibrant and smart artist’s tragedy will encourage others to listen and get the help they need.

If You Are Struggling with Alcohol

Alcohol abuse can easily be brushed off as immature fun or over-partying. In Amy Winehouse’s case, her father made excuses, saying that she was just getting over heart break and growing up. Alcoholism is often overlooked, because of how common drinking is in popular culture.

Unfortunately, alcoholism is a deadly disease that kills. It has taken so many talented and wonderful humans from us, far too early. It ruins lives, spawning depression and anxiety. If you think you may be addicted to alcohol—or just think your drinking is getting out of hand, there are many resources available to you. Reach out and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.

You can call (877) 670-8451 to speak with someone who knows a lot about addiction and alcohol abuse. They will listen to your concerns and help you decide on the best course of action.

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