Her body was discovered by a personal assistant at the Beverley Hills Hotel where she was to attend a party for her mentor, music industry legend Clive Davis.
The singer struggled for years with substance abuse. Other pop stars such as singers Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, guitar great Jimi Hendrix, and more recently singer Amy Winehouse, had similar problems.
Closer to home, several entertainers including Gregory Isacas, Ninjaman, Wayne ‘Baby Wayne’ Parkinson also battled drug addiction. Known as the ‘Don Gorgon’ of dancehall, Ninjaman converted to Christianity in 1997 in an attempt to fight his addiction.
Not even that could stop his rapid decline. He was slapped with a prison sentence in 1999 and is currently in custody on a murder charge.
Throughout his successful career, Isaacs openly battled an addiction to cocaine. Ironically, one of his biggest hit songs was Hard Drugs — a frank look at drug addiction.
Isaacs, who was known for hit songs such as Night Nurse, Tune In and Soon Forward, died from lung cancer in 2010. In his memory, his widow June, along with music producer/distributor Tad Dawkins launched a drug awareness campaign.
June Isaacs says she started the project to get youth aware about the dangers of using illegal drugs. Part of her strategy is using audiovisual material of her husband speaking candidly about his own drug abuse.
“We want to empower every young person that pays attention to the campaign with the knowledge that it’s okay to say no and stay in control of their future,” she notes.
According to Richard Henry, programme coordinator for addiction, counselling and support services at Rise Life Management Services, there are different reasons entertainers get hooked on drugs.
“The consumption of hard drugs changes the way an individual feels. As it relates to entertainers the euphoria of success sometimes takes them into different places where they meet other persons who are sometimes richer than them who are drug addicts,” Henry explained. “This often leads to peer pressure as they give in to the urge to also partake in these harmful practices.”
He stated that in other cases the pressures of being an entertainer often leads to depression, therefore some artistes depend on crack/cocaine or other substances for that ‘happy’ feeling.
“It is not so much the crack, alcohol or ganja that they really want to take, it’s the after effect that they desire… that invincible feeling that is being achieved,” he said.
Henry added that in order for addicts to stop using drugs, he/she has to take full responsibility for their addiction. Some addicts are known to blame others for their habit.
Formerly known as Addiction Alert, Rise Life Management Services is located in Kingston and is one of several organisations that helps treat addictive disorders.