Yesterday, Casey Royer (D.I., Social Distortion, Adolescents) got busted for overdosing on heroin. In front of his 12-year-old.
He has now been charged with two counts of child abuse and endangerment, as well as use and being under the influence of a controlled substance. He could get up to two years behind bars if convicted. Hey–he's just upholding tradition.
Heroin, after all, is the rock-star vice that outdates rock & roll itself. Here are five artists who straddled the line between genius and junkie, each of whom wound up on the losing end of a heroin addiction far worse than Royer's.
Bird ushered in the jazz-bebop era with an unheralded level of virtuosity that re-defined the genre. He was the OG junkie rock star, infamous for nodding out during recording sessions and onstage between solos, sometimes pawning his horn for drug money. Technically, bird didn't OD–he died of a heart attack caused by cirrhosis of the liver at age 34–but you can't talk about rock stars and heroin without mentioning Bird.
The tragic story of the Long Beach stoner-rock pioneer ended 15 years ago this May in a San Francisco hotel room. He was 28, and Sublime's self-titled debut was just about to be released. Nowell had struggled with addiction during his career, evidenced by the song “Pool Shark,” in which he calls his own shot with the line “I take it away but I want more and more/One day I'm gonna lose the war.” Nowell never lived to see Sublime's mercurial rise to success.
Perhaps the most predictable OD in rock & roll, Staley made a career writing dope-sick grunge for Alice In Chains, including tracks named “Junkhead,” “Sickman” and “Godsmack.” After the sludgy, grimy appeal of the band became the '90s smack-rock epitome, it was little surprise when Staley was found dead of an overdose in April 2002.
The personification of the scummy British punk underground, the Sex Pistols bassist would famously scrawl “gimme a fix” across his chest in magic marker and, later, cut his flesh before taking the stage. A self-destructive blend of anarchy, rebellion and street scag, Vicious died at age 21 from heroin that his mother, also an addict, had procured.
Known more for her penchant toward Southern Comfort and amphetamines, Joplin overdosed on heroin shortly after recording “Mercedes Benz” in LA as a birthday present for John Lennon in October 1970. Of the five mentioned here, Joplin's overdose was the most unexpected; those close to her insist the death was accidental in nature because she OD'ed on bad heroin.