In Memory of Some of the Great African American Talents Lost to Addiction – SMART Recovery

In Reminiscence of Among the Nice African American Skills Misplaced to Habit – SMART Restoration


Visitor weblog by SMART Facilitator Ted Perkins

A brand new research, performed in partnership with the Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse on the Nationwide Institutes of Well being, confirmed a troubling habit development amongst African People. Primarily based on overdose knowledge and dying certificates from 4 states, it discovered that the speed of opioid deaths amongst Black folks elevated by 38% from 2018 to 2019, whereas charges for different racial and ethnic teams didn’t.

The latest highly-publicized overdose-related dying of African American actor Michael Ok. Williams was a grim reminder of how medicine and alcohol can strike down even essentially the most profitable Black artists and entertainers within the prime of their life.  This isn’t only a lack of life, however a loss to our tradition and society. As everyone knows, habit is not only a non-public concern; it robs all of us of our pals, members of the family, and beloved icons as effectively. 

For Black Historical past Month, SMART Restoration wish to honor and keep in mind these African American artists and entertainers we’ve misplaced to habit over time within the hopes that their struggles can encourage anybody to hunt out the assistance they should overcome their very own addictions.

BILLIE HOLIDAY – 1915 – 1959

“Woman Day” as she was lovingly referred to as, was an iconic jazz and swing music singer with a voice as vibrant and distinctive as her character. She acquired her begin grabbing fast singing gigs in Harlem nightclubs within the 30s, and by the age of 20 had landed her first recording contract. She achieved widespread reputation and success within the twenty years that adopted. Sadly, Woman Day suffered from a heroin habit presumably exacerbated by mounting authorized and monetary troubles. She served jail time, and was below arrest in her hospital mattress when she handed away from cirrhosis of the liver in 1959.  A movie was made final yr about her life referred to as America vs. Billie Vacation obtainable to stream on Hulu.

PRINCE – 1958 – 2016

Prince’s abilities knew few bounds. A real polymath, he was capable of play each instrument and file his personal music. He had dozens of #1 hits, offered over 150 million data, directed and starred in movies, created his personal movies, and wrote and produced hit songs for Sinéad O’Connor, Chaka Khan and Sheena Easton. Prince was well-known for his over-the-top stage performances, however sadly over time they brought about bodily accidents that required ache medicines. Sadly, he died from a Fentanyly overdose in an effort to handle his ache.  Prince by no means stopped recording, and should have written effectively over 1,000 songs in his all-too-brief lifetime. There isn’t any telling what number of extra top-ten hits, movies and live performance performances have been reduce quick by his opioid habit.

MICHAEL Ok. WILLIAMS 1966 – 2021

There are few higher examples of a person utilizing grit, dedication, and expertise to rise to the heights of movie and tv fame and significant recognition.  Raised within the tasks in Brooklyn, he enrolled in theater lessons to remain out of bother. Poverty and intermittent homelessness by no means slowed him down, and after careers as a backup dancer and mannequin, Williams scored his massive break by touchdown the position of Omar Little in HBO’s The Wire.  He went on to star on Netflix’s acclaimed sequence Boardwalk Empire and was additionally nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his work on the HBO Biopic Bessie. He transitioned simply to movies and had supporting roles in Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave and Gone Child Gone. Sadly, his is one other promising profession reduce quick by Fentanyl.

JIMI HENDRIX 1942 – 1970

Hendrix modified rock and roll endlessly and impressed numerous rock guitarists from Jimmy Web page to Prince to Eddie Van Halen. Whereas his iconic live performance performances and industrial recording success are well-known, Hendrix was additionally a pioneer within the area of audio engineering and recording. He popularized sound results few of us ever knew existed, like fuzz distortion, Octavia, wah-wah, and Uni-Vibe. Whereas most different musicians turned down their amplifiers to remove achieve, Hendrix used it to create rock music masterpieces. Hendrix’s life was reduce quick on the tender age of 27 attributable to barbiturates. Had he survived, there’s no telling what number of extra wonderful songs and performances he would have given the world.


Houston’s battle with habit was extensively reported within the years earlier than her untimely dying in 2012 attributable to atherosclerotic coronary heart illness exacerbated by cocaine use. Solely 58 on the time of her dying, she had already offered over 200 million data and recorded numerous #1 hits. Dubbed “The Voice”, Houston additionally starred in blockbuster movies together with The Bodyguard, whose title music I Will All the time Love You grew to become the bestselling music by a feminine artist of all time. We couldn’t presumably do justice to Houston’s wonderful profession and contributions to music and leisure right here, besides to say that she is sorely missed.


A recent, vibrant and transformative imaginative and prescient within the artwork world, Basquiat introduced graffiti into the mainstream within the 70s, and helped pave the best way for the rise of hip hop within the 80s and 90s. His work didn’t solely present issues, they mentioned issues about revenue inequality, segregation, even mindfulness. He was barely into his 20s when his works have been on show in main museums around the globe. Sudden fame and the dying of his shut buddy Andy Warhol are cited as causes for why he could have turned to heroin. Though he tried methadone therapies to attain sobriety, he misplaced his life to a heroin overdose at 27.

FUQUAN JOHNSON 1979 – 2020

A rising star within the comedy world, Johnson perished together with two different entertainers by the hands of a fentanyl-laced cocaine overdose at a Los Angeles celebration just some months in the past. Fellow comedians have been fast to eulogize Johnson and pay tributes to an entertainer who had a blazing profession forward of him.

Sadly, there are a lot of extra Black artists and entertainers whose lives, careers, and optimistic contributions to the humanities and humanities have been reduce quick attributable to habit. We’re all conversant in the tragic losses of Michael Jackson, however let’s not neglect Franki Lymon, David Ruffin of The Temptations, Donnie Hathaway, and lots of, many extra.

Celeb or not, any dying attributable to habit is an avoidable tragedy, and SMART Restoration continues to work daily to encourage and encourage anybody who wants assist to get well.


SMART Restoration welcomes feedback on our weblog posts—we get pleasure from listening to from you! Within the curiosity of sustaining a respectful and protected neighborhood environment, we ask that you simply adhere to the next pointers when making or responding to others’ feedback, no matter your viewpoint. Thanks.

  • Be variety in tone and intent.
  • Be respectful in the way you reply to opinions which might be totally different than your personal.
  • Be transient and restrict your remark to a most of 500 phrases.
  • Watch out to not point out particular drug names.
  • Be succinct in your descriptions, graphic particulars should not mandatory.
  • Be centered on the content material of the weblog put up itself.

If you’re desirous about habit restoration assist, we encourage you to go to the SMART Restoration web site.


In the event you or somebody you’re keen on is in nice misery and contemplating self-harm, please name 911 for instant assist, or attain out to The Nationwide Suicide Prevention Hotline @800-273-8255,

We sit up for you becoming a member of the dialog!

*SMART Restoration reserves the fitting to not publish feedback we take into account exterior our pointers.*


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