POST-YOUNG #5: The Junky List (or the Incredible Weirdness of Not Being Dead)

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At 17, all I wanted was to be a  famous junky.  Like all my heroes.

I never actually thought I’d make it. (Look at me, I’m blushing like Miss America!) But, damn it, I’m not going to lie, I turned 56 last Monday. That’s right, my birthday is on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and I’m now older than your Dad. Go ahead and make carnival at my angst. Mortality aside,  I am busting my buttons at having made the roster of big name dope fiends compiled by the brains at NNDB, a list of giants who lent the whole damn business such heinous allure in the first place. I mean, Johnny Thunders, Iceberg Slim, Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Bruce, Fats Navarro… Corey Feldman. Okay, maybe not Corey Feldman. But you get my drift.

I  may be staring down the barrel of Deep Fifties.  I may never have gotten a Guggenheim, never written a book that ended up in a supermarket. And my liver may get its mail at a dog track in Granada. But — there I said it! —  the struggle wasn’t all in vain. Thanks to a frenzied career track that included “dope fiend” (after “failed novelist” “pornographer” and “TV Writer,” but before “McDonalds Fry Jockey” on the resume ), I have carved out my own hard-earned, embarrassingly thrilling niche in the annals of Celebrity Addict.

Do I sound like I’m bragging?

Forgive me. I do have humility, and I’m not knocking the kids in my third grade class who never got to be astronauts, firemen, or Moe Howard. We can’t all hitch our wagon to a star. But thanks to a long-gone yen for God’s Medicine, your humble author has taken a seat in Narco-Posterity.  Sure, there may have been a marriage that  tanked, a friend or five who still wonder what happened to their VCRs, some inappropriate public napping and a couple of novels that sold worse than Iranian pocket Torahs. I’m not saying I’m Albert Schweitzer.  Not at all. It’s just, at the end of the proverbial day, what, really, do we have but our reputation? That’s why I included the fridge door-ready compilation below.

After I pick up my Golden Syringe at the Hard Rock, Las Vegas ceremony, I’m going to put it in on my mantel beside the… well, actually, it’s going to be up there by itself. Like an Irving Thalberg Lifetime Achievement award for IV Professionals. Not to suggest that I ever did anything particularly impressive with my life. But, call me sentimental, to celebrate the peculiar, squirm-inducing miracle of Not Being Dead. I didn’t have a plan B — but I didn’t have a Plan A, either, so what the hell…

Never let go of your dreams.

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Risk Factor: HeroinLISTS

Name Occupation Birth Death Known for
Ryan Adams Singer/Songwriter 5-Nov-1974 Heartbreaker
Steven Adler Drummer 22-Jan-1965 Former Guns N’ Roses drummer
David Allen Author 28-Dec-1945 Getting Things Done
Rick Allen Drummer 1-Nov-1963 Def Leppard’s one-armed drummer
G. G. Allin Musician 29-Aug-1956 28-Jun-1993 Hated
Gregg Allman Musician 8-Dec-1947 An Allman Brother
Trey Anastasio Musician 30-Sep-1964 Lead singer and guitarist for Phish
Brett Anderson Singer/Songwriter 29-Sep-1967 Former Suede vocalist
Phil Anselmo Musician 30-Jun-1968 Former vocalist for Pantera
Antonin Artaud Playwright 4-Sep-1896 4-Mar-1948 Theater of Cruelty
Rick Aviles Comic 14-Oct-1952 17-Mar-1995 Ghost
Chet Baker Jazz Musician 23-Dec-1929 13-May-1988 Jazz trumpeter, The Chet Baker Quartet
Nicky Barnes Criminal 1933 Heroin kingpin, Mr. Untouchable
Jean-Michel Basquiat Painter 22-Dec-1960 12-Aug-1988 NYC graffiti artist
Matthew “Stymie” Beard Actor 1-Jan-1925 8-Jan-1981 Stymie in Our Gang
John Belushi Actor 24-Jan-1949 5-Mar-1982 Animal House
Steven Jesse Bernstein Poet 4-Dec-1950 22-Oct-1991 Grunge poet and punk rocker
Jack Black Musician 28-Aug-1969 Half of Tenacious D
Robert Blake Actor 18-Sep-1933 Baretta, acquitted of murdering wife
Mike Bloomfield Guitarist 28-Jul-1943 15-Feb-1981 Guitarist, Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Don Bolles Musician 30-Jul-1956 The Germs
John Bonham Drummer 31-May-1948 24-Sep-1980 Drummer for Led Zeppelin, 1968-80
Anthony Bourdain Chef 25-Jun-1956 Kitchen Confidential
David Bowie Musician 8-Jan-1947 Ziggy Stardust
Lillo Brancato Actor 30-Aug-1976 A Bronx Tale, acquitted of murder
Russell Brand Actor 4-Jun-1975 Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
Lenny Bruce Comic 13-Oct-1925 3-Aug-1966 Multiply obscene comic
William S. Burroughs Author 5-Feb-1914 2-Aug-1997 Naked Lunch
Charlotte Caffey Guitarist 21-Oct-1953 Lead guitarist for The Go-Go’s
John Cale Cellist 9-Mar-1942 Velvet cellist and influential producer
Gia Carangi Model 29-Jan-1960 18-Nov-1986 Troubled supermodel, died from AIDS
Judy Carne Actor 27-Apr-1939 Sock-it-to-me girl on Laugh-In
Jim Carroll Author 1-Aug-1950 The Basketball Diaries
David Cassidy Singer 12-Apr-1950 The Partridge Family
Nick Cave Singer 22-Sep-1957 Bad Seed
50 Cent Rapper 6-Jul-1975 WankstaP.I.M.P.
Jimmy Chamberlin Drummer 10-Jun-1964 Ex-Smashing Pumpkins drummer
Lauren Chapin Actor 23-May-1945 Father Knows Best
Mark David Chapman Assassin 10-May-1955 Assassin of Beatle John Lennon
Ray Charles Musician 23-Sep-1930 10-Jun-2004 Georgia On My Mind
Eric Clapton Guitarist 30-Mar-1945 Slowhand
Kurt Cobain Musician 20-Feb-1967 5-Apr-1994 Lead singer of Nirvana
Natalie Cole Singer 6-Feb-1950 Singer-daughter of Nat King Cole
John Coltrane Jazz Musician 23-Sep-1926 17-Jul-1967 Jazz tenor saxophonist
Peter Coyote Actor 10-Oct-1942 Dennis Ryland on The 4400
Darby Crash Singer 26-Sep-1958 7-Dec-1980 The Germs
David Crosby Musician 14-Aug-1941 Crosby, Stills, and Nash
Aleister Crowley Religion 12-Oct-1875 1-Dec-1947 Wickedest man in the world
Adrianne Curry Model 6-Aug-1982 America’s Next Top Model
Joe Dallesandro Actor 31-Dec-1948 Took a walk on the wild side
Evan Dando Musician 4-Mar-1967 Lemonheads frontman
Miles Davis Jazz Musician 26-May-1926 28-Sep-1991 Jazz trumpeter, Kind of Blue
Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda Religion 22-Apr-1942 International Ministry Growing in Grace, Inc.
Kelley Deal Guitarist 10-Jun-1961 Sometime guitarist for The Breeders
Janice Dickinson Model 15-Feb-1955 1970s supermodel
Dion Musician 18-Jul-1939 Runaround Sue
Pete Doherty Musician 12-Mar-1979 Ex-frontman for The Libertines
Robert Downey, Jr. Actor 4-Apr-1965 The Gingerbread Man
Bobby Driscoll Actor 3-Mar-1937 30-Mar-1968 Child actor, succumbed to drugs
Sanjay Dutt Actor 29-Jul-1959 Mission Kashmir
Bill Evans Jazz Musician 16-Aug-1929 15-Sep-1980 Jazz pianist
Stanley Fafara Actor 20-Sep-1949 20-Sep-2003 Whitey on Leave It to Beaver
Marianne Faithfull Singer/Songwriter 29-Dec-1946 Sister Morphine
Chris Farley Comic 15-Feb-1964 17-Dec-1997 Saturday Night Live
Perry Farrell Musician 29-Mar-1959 Gangly lead singer of Jane’s Addiction
Corey Feldman Actor 16-Jul-1971 One of the Coreys
Jennifer Finch Bassist 5-Aug-1966 Former L7 bassist
Flea Bassist 16-Oct-1962 Bassist for Red Hot Chili Peppers
Althea Flynt Relative 6-Nov-1953 27-Jun-1987 Larry Flynt’s dead wife
wiL Francis Singer 8-Jan-1982 Lead singer of Aiden
Justine Frischmann Guitarist 16-Sep-1969 Guitarist, Elastica
John Frusciante Guitarist 5-Mar-1970 Guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Dave Gahan Musician 9-May-1962 Depeche Mode
Jerry Garcia Musician 1-Aug-1942 9-Aug-1995 Grateful Dead
Leif Garrett Musician 8-Nov-1961 1970s teen idol
Boy George Singer/Songwriter 14-Jun-1961 Karma Chameleon
Balthazar Getty Actor 22-Jan-1975 Lord of the Flies
J. Paul Getty, Jr. Business 7-Sep-1932 17-Apr-2003 Heir to the Getty Oil fortune
Stan Getz Jazz Musician 2-Feb-1927 6-Jun-1991 Jazz tenor saxophonist
Dwayne Goettel Musician 1-Feb-1964 23-Aug-1995 Skinny Puppy, fatal heroin OD
Whoopi Goldberg Actor 13-Nov-1955 Sister Act
Dexter Gordon Jazz Musician 27-Feb-1923 25-Apr-1990 Influential bop saxophonist
Peter Greene Actor 8-Oct-1965 Laws of Gravity
Tim Hardin Singer/Songwriter 23-Dec-1941 29-Dec-1980 If I Were a Carpenter
Debbie Harry Singer 1-Jul-1945 Blondie
Domino Harvey Relative 7-Aug-1969 27-Jun-2005 Laurence Harvey’s daughter
Mitch Hedberg Comic 24-Feb-1968 30-Mar-2005 Stand-up comedian known for one-liners
Richard Hell Musician 2-Oct-1949 Blank Generation
Jimi Hendrix Guitarist 27-Nov-1942 18-Sep-1970 Purple Haze
Billie Holiday Singer 7-Apr-1915 17-Jul-1959 Lady Sings the Blues
Shannon Hoon Musician 26-Sep-1967 21-Oct-1995 Frontman for Blind Melon
Etta James Singer 25-Jan-1938 Soul Diva
Denis Johnson Novelist 1949 Jesus’ Son
Angelina Jolie Actor 4-Jun-1975 Tomb Raider
Elvin Jones Drummer 9-Sep-1927 18-May-2004 Different Drummer
Steve Jones Guitarist 3-Sep-1955 The Sex Pistols
Janis Joplin Singer 19-Jan-1943 4-Oct-1970 Ball and Chain (Piece of My Heart)
Al Jourgensen Musician 9-Oct-1958 Lead for industrial band Ministry
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Relative 17-Jan-1954 Son of Robert F. Kennedy
Chaka Khan Singer 23-Mar-1953 I Feel For You
Anthony Kiedis Musician 1-Nov-1962 Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman
Jaime King Actor 23-Apr-1979 White Chicks
Cris Kirkwood Bassist 22-Oct-1960 Meat Puppets
Patrick Kroupa Author 20-Jan-1968 Lord Digital of LOD, Mindvox
Artie Lange Comic 11-Oct-1967 MADtvHoward Stern
Christopher Lawford Actor 29-Mar-1955 All My Children
Daulton Lee Spy 1952 The Snowman
Tommy Lee Drummer 3-Oct-1962 Mötley Crüe drummer
John Lennon Musician 9-Oct-1940 8-Dec-1980 Beatle
Larry Levan Disc Jockey 20-Jul-1954 8-Nov-1992 Legendary Disco DJ
Peggy Lipton Actor 30-Aug-1946 Julie Barnes in The Mod Squad
Sonny Liston Boxing 8-May-1932 30-Dec-1970 World Heavyweight Champion 1962-64
Courtney Love Singer 9-Jul-1964 Kurt Cobain’s widow, Hole
Frank Lucas Criminal 9-Sep-1930 Harlem heroin kingpin
Frankie Lymon Singer/Songwriter 30-Sep-1942 28-Feb-1968 Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
Shane MacGowan Musician 25-Dec-1957 The Pogues
Vaughn Meader Comic 20-Mar-1936 29-Oct-2004 Comedian, JFK mimic
Russell Means Activist 10-Nov-1939 American Indian Movement
Jason Mewes Actor 12-Jun-1974 “Jay” to Kevin Smith’s “Silent Bob”
Sharon Mitchell Pornstar 18-Jan-1952 Starship Intercourse
Lee Morgan Jazz Musician 10-Jul-1938 19-Feb-1972 The Sidewinder
Gerry Mulligan Jazz Musician 6-Apr-1927 20-Jan-1996 Greatest jazz baritonist of all time
Dave Mustaine Guitarist 13-Sep-1961 Megadeth
Dave Navarro Guitarist 7-Jun-1967 Guitarist for Jane’s Addiction
Fats Navarro Jazz Musician 24-Sep-1923 7-Jul-1950 Be-bop jazz trumpeter
Chuck Negron Singer 8-Jun-1942 Singer for Three Dog Night
Mike Ness Musician 3-Apr-1962 Social Distortion frontman
Aaron Neville Musician 24-Jan-1941 Nature Boy
Nico Musician 16-Oct-1938 18-Jul-1988 The Velvet Underground and Nico
Brad Nowell Musician 22-Feb-1968 25-May-1996 Lead singer of Sublime
Anita O’Day Singer/Songwriter 18-Oct-1919 23-Nov-2006 Feminine master of scat
Tatum O’Neal Actor 5-Nov-1963 Paper Moon
Nivek Ogre Musician 5-Dec-1962 Vocals, Spooky Horn for Skinny Puppy
Carré Otis Model 28-Sep-1968 Mickey Rourke’s ex-wife
Jimmy Page Guitarist 9-Jan-1944 Led Zeppelin Guitarist
Charlie Parker Jazz Musician 29-Aug-1920 12-Mar-1955 Be-bop jazz musician
Gram Parsons Musician 5-Nov-1946 19-Sep-1973 Flying Burrito Brothers
Robert Pastorelli Actor 21-Jun-1954 8-Mar-2004 Housepainter on Murphy Brown
Barbara Payton Actor 16-Nov-1927 8-May-1967 Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
Joe Perry Guitarist 10-Sep-1950 Lead guitarist for Aerosmith
Kristen Pfaff Bassist 26-May-1967 16-Jun-1994 Bassist for Hole and Janitor Joe
John Phillips Musician 30-Aug-1935 18-Mar-2001 The Mamas and the Papas
Mackenzie Phillips Actor 10-Nov-1959 Julie on One Day at a Time
River Phoenix Actor 23-Aug-1970 31-Oct-1993 My Own Private Idaho
Pink Singer 8-Sep-1979 Can’t Take Me Home
Iggy Pop Singer/Songwriter 21-Apr-1947 Iggy and the Stooges
Glenn Quinn Actor 28-May-1970 3-Dec-2002 Mark Healy on Roseanne
Dee Dee Ramone Bassist 18-Sep-1952 5-Jun-2002 Former bassist, The Ramones
Lou Reed Musician 2-Mar-1942 The Velvet Underground
Brad Renfro Actor 25-Jul-1982 15-Jan-2008 The Client
Little Richard Musician 5-Dec-1932 Tutti Frutti
Keith Richards Guitarist 18-Dec-1943 The Rolling Stones
Nicole Richie TV Personality 21-Sep-1981 The Simple Life
Savannah Pornstar 9-Oct-1970 11-Jul-1994 Saturday Night Beaver
Maria Schneider Actor 27-Mar-1952 Last Tango in Paris
Edie Sedgwick Socialite 20-Apr-1943 16-Nov-1971 Warhol factory girl
Hubert Selby Author 23-Jul-1928 26-Apr-2004 Requiem for a Dream
Ray Sharkey Actor 14-Nov-1952 11-Jun-1993 Sonny Steelgrave on Wiseguy
Eric Show Baseball 19-May-1956 16-Mar-1994 MLB pitcher
Nikki Sixx Bassist 11-Dec-1958 Mötley Crüe bassist
Slash Guitarist 23-Jul-1965 Former lead guitarist, Guns n’ Roses
Christian Slater Actor 18-Aug-1969 KuffsTrue Romance
Iceberg Slim Criminal 4-Aug-1918 28-Apr-1992 Pimp-turned-author
Hillel Slovak Guitarist 13-Apr-1962 25-Jun-1988 Guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Penelope Spheeris Film Director 2-Dec-1945 Wayne’s World
Nancy Spungen Victim 27-Feb-1958 12-Oct-1978 Sid Vicious’s girlfriend
Jerry Stahl Author 1953 Permanent Midnight
Layne Staley Musician 22-Aug-1967 14-Apr-2002 Frontman for Alice In Chains
Ringo Starr Drummer 7-Jul-1940 Beatle
Sonny Stitt Jazz Musician 2-Feb-1924 22-Jul-1982 Jazz saxophonist
Izzy Stradlin Guitarist 8-Apr-1962 Former rhythm guitarist, Guns n’ Roses
James Taylor Singer/Songwriter 12-Mar-1948 Seen fire, rain
Johnny Thunders Guitarist 15-Jul-1952 23-Apr-1991 New York Dolls guitarist
Danny Trejo Actor 16-May-1944 Ex-con turned character actor
Karla Faye Tucker Criminal 18-Nov-1959 3-Feb-1998 First woman executed in Texas since 1863
Steven Tyler Singer 26-Mar-1948 Frontman for Aerosmith
Keni Valenti Fashion Designer 1958 The King of Vintage
Stevie Ray Vaughan Guitarist 3-Oct-1954 27-Aug-1990 Blues guitarist
Sid Vicious Bassist 10-May-1957 2-Feb-1979 Sex Pistols bassist
Charlie Watts Drummer 2-Jun-1941 Drummer for the Rolling Stones
Scott Weiland Musician 27-Oct-1967 Frontman, Stone Temple Pilots
Dennis Wilson Musician 4-Dec-1944 28-Dec-1983 Founding member of The Beach Boys
Amy Winehouse Singer 14-Sep-1983 Rehab
Paula Yates TV Personality 24-Apr-1960 17-Sep-2000 Rock Stars in Their Underpants

Jerry Stahl has written 8 books, including Permanent Midnight, Bad Sex On Speed, and I, Fatty. His new novel, Happy Mutant Baby Pills, is now out from Harper Perennial. More from this author →