10 Celebrities (of many unfortunately) Who Succumbed to the effects of Alcohol Abuse

This post is far from being morbid, although I may hear you ask why are you shouting about the downfall of some well-known celebrities? What I am really doing is a post to celebrate their achievements but more so to highlight the fact that alcohol abuse is indiscriminate. These people demonstrate the effect alcohol abuse can have on any one of us and can be affected by emotions, circumstance and exposure in the case of many celebrities. There are many more but here are 10:

George Best – November 2005, aged 59: I just had to start with George Best. Obviously one of the most talented sportsmen ever but also one of the most documented battles with alcohol. The fame for sure got to George Best and I can remember watching footage of him playing, watching the movie made about him and seeing the very sad picture in the Newspaper (below), which at his request, published showing him in his hospital bed with jaundice, along with a warning about the dangers of alcohol with the message: “Don’t die like me”.

Ira Hayes – January 1955, aged 32: If it wasn’t for the song “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” by Johnny Cash I would never have probably heard of this man. One of the lines in the chorus goes “call him drunken Ira Hayes he wont answer anymore, not the whiskey drinking Indian or the Marine that went to war”. This guy was a Pima Indian and raised 2nd American flag on top of Mount Suribachi after it was captured at the end of the WW2. The second flag raising became historic, after the photograph appeared in the newspapers and the Ira Hayes and the other five flag-raisers became national heroes. Upon leaving the US Marine Corps, he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and turned to alcohol from which he subsequently died. He was buried with full military honours though which is right.

Amy Winehouse – July 2011, aged 27: Her music lives on but as I am sure most people will know she suffered from both drug and alcohol abuse eventually succumbing to alcohol poisoning. What people may not know is that she donated a fair bit to children’s charities. So sad that someone so young has these demons but with Amy she was a musical talent and her last Album Back to Black is still one of the bestselling albums of all time. There is now a charity named after her which works to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people and it also aims to support, inform and inspire vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to help them reach their full potential.

Verne Troyer – April 2018, aged 49: Who doesn’t remember Verne Troyer in the Austin Powers films as Mini Me, excellent. He also played the goblin Griphook in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and a “personal” tape of him and his girlfriend was released somehow too, which cant have gone down well. His death was reported as a possible suicide to the coroner, who found very high alcohol levels in his body, suggesting and later confirming alcohol poisoning as the cause.

Michael Elphick – September 2002, aged 55: The “Non-UK” fraternity among us may not know Michael Elphick and only through researching this post did I discover he was an alcoholic. He was an actor who played Ken Boon in the 80’s series “Boon”. What a title… Boon! He also played other roles I know but Ken Boon is how I remember him. One of his last roles was in “EastEnders” but he was reportedly sacked because of his drinking problem and his character was killed off. He went to various clinics and AA but eventually died of a heart attack complicated by his drinking problem.

Keith Whitley (Country singer) – May 1989, aged 34: Keith Whitley would surely have gone on to be more well known outside of the U.S and is known for his Neo-traditional brand of country popularised by hit artists such as George Strait and Randy Travis. His main break came when he became the lead singer for Ralph Stanley’s band in 1974 and he also played with J.D. Crowe & the New South and established himself as one of the most versatile and talented lead singers in bluegrass music. He went on to be a solo artist but at only 34 years old died due to alcohol poisoning. At the time of his death, Keith Whitley had just finished work on his third and final studio album, which was released three months after his death producing 2 number 1 hits.

Oliver Reed – May 1999, aged 61: Oliver Reed was one of the great early heartthrob Actor’s, but his drinking and partying ways were very well documented, from his drunken appearance on chat shows like Parkinson to his off-screen antics with the late Keith Moon from The Who, also bark raving mad. He was in many films including Oliver, in which he played Bill Sykes and The Three (and Four) Musketeers where he was Athos, ironically Athos too liked a drink and I am sure at that time Oliver Reed would have relished playing him.

Billie Holiday – July 1959, aged 44: One of the first mainstream female and black singers recognised in the world and throughout the 1930’s and 40’s she was very successful. However,  by the late 40’s she was beset with legal troubles and alcohol and drug abuse which got her in trouble with police and a short prison sentence even. She continued sell pout gigs but eventually her reputation sadly deteriorated because of her drug and alcohol problems which at that time were mainly frowned upon. In her prime people around her called her “Lady Day”.

Bonn Scott – February 1980, aged 33: The lead singer and songwriter for rock band AC/DC. No 2 ways about it the sure excess of the rock and roll lifestyle is to blame for this untimely death due to “acute alcohol intoxication”. In 2004 he was rated as number one in a list of the “100 Greatest Front men of All Time” by magazine “Classic Rock” which demonstrates his impact in the 1970’s, and his legacy. Their 1979 album Highway to Hell reached the top 20 in the United States, and the band seemed on the verge of a commercial breakthrough but shortly afterwards he died after a night out in London. AC/DC decided to carry on and recruited vocalist Brian Johnson. AC/DC’s subsequent album, Back in Black, was released only five months later, and was a tribute to Scott’s death. It went on to become the third best-selling album in history.

Charles Kennedy (Politician) – June 2015, aged 55: Not so well documented throughout his life until the end is Charles Kennedy’s battle. He was a Politician in the UK who led the Liberal Democrats for a while. Around 2006 he announced he had been treated for alcoholism and was basically ousted from the party, but his alcohol problem didn’t go away. He lost his seat in 2015 in the UK general election and died about 6 Months later where the police described his death as “sudden and non-suspicious”. Following a post-mortem his family announced that he died of a major haemorrhage linked to his alcoholism.

All the above sadly lost their lives due to the demon alcohol and alcohol abuse. May they all Rest-In-Peace.

These are not the only high profile celebrities that have suffered from alcohol abuse. Here is an article with more celebrities open about their alcohol abuse and their battle.

If you are trying to live a sober life I would like to round of here with a link to the sobriety tips that helped me.

All the best… Darren

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