GWAR frontman Dave Brockie died of a heroin overdose Other celebs who have passed away from the drug It was recently announced that frontman of theatrical horror-rock band GWAR has died of a heroin overdose, just another victim of a substance that each year lays waste to thousands upon thousands of tortured souls across the world. In the celebrity sphere, and music world especially, heroin is an all-too common cause of death that has taken the lives of many of the world’s iconic figures.

GWAR performs at revolution liveGWAR frontman Dave Brockie died of a heroin overdose earlier this year

It is also synonymous with certain movements and genres. It’s usage in the grunge era was ubiquitous much the same as it was amongst the likes of Led Zeppelin and the monsters of rock that flourished in yesteryear. To some, heroin is viewed with romanticism that has inspired countless songs, from The La’s “There She Goes” to Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.” As such, it’s often viewed as a glamorous addition to one’s lifestyle, especially those with a fondness for the ‘gonzo’ literary works of Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs. But first and foremost, despite its allusions as a pathway towards creative bliss, it is a killer that ensnares the victim in a routine of cop and fix that can so easily lead to degradation and eventual death.

The prospect of going ‘cold turkey’ is enough to keep most heroin abusers firmly in the grips of the drug, even if they abhor themselves for using it. Even so, for those subjected to relentless media speculation and high-pressure roles, heroin is an adroit coping mechanism that smothers the user in a hazy and comforting blanket that for a certain time removes all air of worry in favour of a narcotic-fuelled heaven. We look at some celebrities who have been taken from the world by the inescapable grasp of the drug:

Kurt Cobain
Cobain’s heroin use was part and parcel of the alternative music scene of the late 1980’s to early 90’s and the Nirvana frontman was in a constant battle with the drug, going through bouts of intense addiction before he became a full-blown junkie in the latter days of his life. If the shotgun blast to the head hadn’t killed him, than the huge dose of heroin he injected into himself moments before certainly would have. For Cobain, however, the drug was a way of coping with the stresses that a sudden thrust into the limelight brought down upon him as well as a way to ease the debilitating stomach problems that plagued his life.

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Layne Staley
Yet another grunge figurehead to succumb to intense addiction and eventual death, Staley was the frontman of metal-tinged grunge heavyweights Alice In Chains. Song titled such as “Junkhead” left little doubt as to the impact of drugs on him and on the band’s appearance on the hallowed MTV Unplugged series, Staley was in the full throes of addiction- forgetting lyrics, donning sunglasses throughout and attempting to sing through a voice that was creaky and damaged after years of abuse. His passing in 2002 from a cocktail of cocaine and heroin came as little surprise to anyone. Bassist Mike Starr also succumbed to addiction in 2011, leaving only two original members of the band’s 90’s heyday.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman

Seymour Hoffman at Hunger Games Screening
Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose

Another recent tragedy at the hands of the drug, Hoffman had been plagued by addiction problems for many years and his death earlier this year came as little shock to those close friends who were aware of just how seriously the actor was previously beset by drugs problems. Hoffman had been forthcoming in interviews about his drugs problems which plagued him in his early twenties and despite the actor declaring he had been clean for over twenty three years, he was found in his Manhattan apartment with a needle protruding from his arm. Autopsy results found a mixture of various narcotics in his system although the death was ruled as an accidental overdose. It was a tragic end to one of Hollywood’s most emphatic and well-respected character actors. 

Peaches Geldof

Peaches Geldof at the F&F show 2014
Peaches Geldof suffered a heroin overdose

Aged just 25 and a mother of two, the death of Peaches Geldof was a tragedy and heroin was cited as likely to have played a role in the death of the TV presenter. Peaches had admitted to experimenting with drugs in her teenage years to cope with the death of her mother- Paula Yates, who also died of at the hands of a heroin overdose. Peaches is the latest reminder of how easily it is to succumb to the comforting façade of drugs and it will most certainly not be the last.

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Cory Monteith

Corey Monteith at Paleyfest Icon Awards
Cory Monteith died of an overdose in his hotel room 

Having played Finn Hudson is the smash TV show Glee, Monteith was the last person many would expect to die from a drug usually used to cope with the pains of reality. Yet his death shows that behind his cheery disposition and likeability lay hidden problems that could only be comforted by the infamous drug. He died at the age of just 31 in a Vancouver hotel room after taking a mixture of heroin and alcohol. Monteith was due to continue his role in the hugely popular musical series and was written out of Glee in a moving hour-long tribute episode. He may not fit the ‘junkie’ stereotype but it just goes to prove the heroin does not discriminate between those who seek its effects.

John Belushi 

John Belushi Press Shot
The legendary John Belushi

One of the most well-loved and unpredictable comics of the last century, Belushi’s crazed performances were buoyed by a fondness for drugs and alcohol. He died in 1982 at the Chateau Marmont hotel after a speedball- a mixture of heroin and cocaine, was injected by his companion, Cathy Evelyn Smith. She served fifteen months in prison for involuntary manslaughter whilst the hugely popular funny man left a legacy that included Animal House and a side-splitting selection of Saturday Night Live appearances. 

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River Phoenix

River Phoenix Press Photo
River Phoenix died at the age of 23

Robbed of his life at just 23, River Phoenix died with a hugely promising career left unfulfilled. In 1993, having snorted a lethal amount of cocaine and heroin in the bathroom of the Viper Rooms in Hollywood which were partly owned by Johnny Depp, he stumbled out of the club and collapsed on the sidewalk. He died in very public circumstances amongst an array of celebrities that included Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, brother Joaquin and sister Rain.  

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