When Grammy-winning singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her home on July 23, there couldn't have been very many people, even among her most fervent fans, who doubted that her death would ultimately be ruled as the result of an illegal drug overdose. Facebook and Twitter were flooded with "witty" comments about how someone should've tried to make her go to rehab. The whole thing just seemed like a foregone conclusion.
However, this week the toxicology report on Winehouse came back, with some rather surprising results: No illegal substances were found in her body. There was some alcohol, sure, but there's alcohol in our bloodstream right now and, judging by our demographic, in yours too. (Yes, we know it's 9 a.m.)
What ultimately killed the singer is still unknown. Are we saying that the years of drug abuse contributed nothing to her death? No. However, sometimes we get so caught up in the rock and roll picture show that sometimes we imagine a slightly different ending than what actually happened. Some of the people you may have heard OD'd who really didn't include...
We reported on Steele's death last year. By that time, Steele had already "died" more times that we can count. Suffering from severe bipolar disorder, he would disappear for days at a time, leading to rumors of his death by misadventure or overdose. It wasn't unlikely that drugs finally caught up with him.
However, by the time of his final demise, Steele had been sober for quite some time. His health was good, and many of the demons that seemed to haunt the hulking metal master appeared to be at rest. Apparently he died of heart failure; rare, but not unheard of in a 48-year-old man. Further details have not been publicly released..
Mama Cass is the butt of the longest running and frankly cruelest OD joke in rock history. Common knowledge and Austin Powers tell us that Elliot overindulged not on heroin or sedatives, but on a ham sandwich. Seems like a logically gluttonous end to an overweight singer, right?
It's not true, not even close. Like Steele, Elliot died of a heart attack, although she was a decade younger than he was. A police report noted that a partially eaten sandwich was found near her, but the coroner's report mentioned nothing about the singer choking. Just for double fun, a few rumors debunk the sandwich story by claiming she met her end through too much heroin. Again, not true.
Pimp C's death in December 2007 sent shockwaves through the Houston and national rap scenes. His funeral reads like the Who's Who of rap, and his legacy continues to inspire the next generation of flowmasters. Also, he serves as a warning about the dangers of Purple Drank, the mixture of prescription cough syrup, soda, and Jolly Ranchers that he is said to have overdosed on.
Now, Pimp liked him some Purple Drank, and often sang of its virtues. Undoubtedly the use of it contributed to his death, but the amount of codeine that was found in his system was not near enough to have caused a fatal overdose. The true culprit was the deadly combination of Purple Drank and his sleep apnea.
We know that Bon Scott was the original lead singer of AC/DC, and we know that he liked to toss back the drinks. He passed out after drinking all night in a London club, and was left to sleep it off in a friend's car. He was found lifeless the next morning.
In a burst of public-mindedness, we covered the dangers of alcohol poisoning and what signs to watch for in a previous article, citing the loss of Scott as a textbook example. What went on the coroner's report was pulmonary aspiration of vomit, which means he choked to death after throwing up while unconscious.
Still, even this may not be the case. Scott was known to be asthmatic, and he was left outside in a freezing February night. Some people, Ozzy Osbourne in particular, believe hypothermia may have been the actual cause.
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Jefferson Airplane's biggest hit after "Somebody to Love" is, without question, "White Rabbit." The song is a dedication to two things singer Grace Slick loved, Lewis Carroll and hallucinogens. Later, a line from the song would become the title of the famous anti-drug text most of us were forced to read in school: Go Ask Alice, the journal of a teenage girl whose descent into drugs ends in a death by overdose.
The thing is, the unnamed diarist (She's not named Alice) didn't die of an overdose. She didn't die at all, save maybe the way Dumbledore died. The entire "true story" was completely made up by Mormon therapist Beatrice Sparks. She built a career out of overblown and unlikely cautionary tales portrayed as real-life journals, sort of the literary equivalent of hell houses.