What do Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, 2Pac, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston all have in common? They were solo artists who died prematurely. According to a study published in the BMJ Open Journal, solo performers were almost twice as likely to die young as compared to those who were in a band.
Honey Langcaster-James, a psychologist who specializes in celebs, presents a theory:
“Solo artists in general approach life in a solitary manner – deliberately choosing to go it alone … They can find themselves in a situation where everyone around them are paid employees – the PR guru, their manager – all interested in them from a financial point of view and not in their personal needs – it’s hard for the artist to know who to trust.They travel a lot, are away from friends and family for long periods of time and only seen for their public image, not their real self – which can make them feel inferior, isolated and invalidated.”
The authors of the study also believe that a rough childhood is a contributing factor, suggesting that a music career might be especially appealing to people trying to escape unhappy homes. And when the money starts flowing, they have the means to indulge in all types of risky behaviors that they might be predisposed to.
A possible solution Langcaster-James suggests is staying in a band, where the other members can protect you from yourself, so to speak. Not that the band members will enjoy playing babysitter, or interventionist, or that the troubled band member will even listen. As was the case with Kurt Cobain. If you are really screwed up, no one can help you but yourself. Not even your band. But at least they’ll try. For an illustration of this principle in action, I recommend “Some Kind Of Monster,” a documentary about when Metallica did group therapy. Sooo good. [BBC]