***NO - This isn't the act of another spambot with auto-type syndrome! If ya don't have time for a long read, skip to next post!
With few exceptions, I pretty much always tend to lean towards the open-minded, non-judgmental approach to anything where I have no way of knowing all the finer details. Or at least I try.
If we look at these three deaths this week, all 3 have incredibly different story lines yet, what they have in common is that we're discussing them together here because they lived lives that took them into the public eye.
No doubt, in any given, recent day or week, the world lost a different 67 year old man to stomach cancer, a different 80 year old woman to some other form of cancer and more than a couple 38 year old, soon to be fathers to drug overdose (assuming speculations are accurate). But, because their lives took different paths, their will be no public outpourings of grief and loss or bitterness and condemnation. That doesn't mean these anonymous three were any less deserving of our praise or our disdain. Maybe the older guy was a retired fire fighter who'd been quietly heroic all his years, the woman a kind and loving mother who fashioned her children to be decent and generous adults... And maybe the addict spent his sober hours selfishly stealing from and hurting others, never creating anything of value or taking a moment to think of anyone else. But because we didn't know of them or their lives, there are likely no internet threads devoted to the ways they lived or died.
So then, those who manage to do something, anything, that elevates their notoriety to the point where their death makes some sort of national headline, are destined to not only live, but die in the proverbial fish bowl and have their brief time here scrutinized by countless individuals who, for the most part at least, never met them. Such are the pitfalls of fame.
When it comes to the various social, political, religious and musical topics wrapped up in these various discussions, to some extent or another, we all have different views. Sure, we all tend to agree on all counts in the Dio thread because this is a metal forum and he was who he was, to us. But don't doubt for a second that there aren't threads on other themed boards out there where his life and death are being discussed without quite so much reverence and respect as are given here. We all reacted, not in surprise of course, but in disgust at the news that there were individuals and even groups out there that would consider disrespecting the memorial of one of our idols because of their twisted views. The issues for us regarding the great RJD are quite simply black and white and easy for us to instinctively know which side we're on without a second thought. But not EVERYONE out there sympathizes with our loss.
Same thing with Debbie Abono. To the best of our limited knowledge of her and her life, she didn't mistreat those around her and put most of her energy into helping various Bay area bands to work towards successful careers. She seems in all respects the image of the kind-hearted older lady who found her way to the world of metal and left behind a touching legacy. But I'm sure many of her generational peers hated the music and the industry she became involved in and will say that her energies were wasted in vain.
We're all familiar with the old saying about opinions being like buttholes...
Both Ronnie and Debbie died of cancer. Except for some cases of smokers who never quit and then eventually succumb to lung cancer, we just don't BLAME people when they die of cancer. It's an illness that people fall victim to.
Then there's Mr. Gray. Here's what little I know to be "true" about him (with some opinion splashed in for good measure):
38 years old. Played bass in a band whose music I didn't enjoy. Part of a band that contributed to a trendy side of the genre that I not only have little respect for but sort of resent for representing metal in general in a way that I'd prefer not to be associated with. He was in an MVA 7 years ago and, along with marijuana and drug paraphernalia, cocaine was one of the things discovered in his car. From all accounts I can track down, that was his only substance abuse related mishap he'd been involved in publicly. He did his time and had apparently turned things around (Rolling Stone magazine). He'd been married for 2 years and his wife was pregnant with their first child. He'd apparently been a guest for some time at the hotel where he was found dead as staff were quoted as calling him a quiet and respectful guest. His band mates spoke of him as being the friendly guy in the band that tried to focus things and keep others calm when there was conflict. The cause and circumstances of his death aren't currently known to us but, for some reason(s), there is much speculation that he died as a result of drug use. And it seems that many people who did not know him are more than happy to condemn him, his life, music and his death as if they knew him intimately as more or less a piece of shit.
But, while certainly no Ronnie James Dio or Debbie Abono, there doesn't seem to be much out there to indicate he was the kind of guy who led a life of hellbent self-destruction or considered his wife and unborn child as unimportant or that he was putting a junkie lifestyle ahead of their well-being. It may very well turn out that he overdosed or that he was staying at the hotel because he was cheating on his wife with some neo-nazi, country western cult member with a penchant for mutually induced auto-asphyxiation using bass guitar strings. It's just as likely that he was staying at the hotel because of marital problems of some sort and that his death was health related. Who knows? I can tell you one thing for sure. If my life were filmed for all to see, there would be countless scenes that would make ya cringe and leave ya with little choice but to judge me pretty harshly. Hopefully, there would be equally as many scenes that would make ya cheer and hope for the best possible outcome for all involved. Thankfully for us all, that movie will never be made. I suspect the same is close to true for most of you as well.
I really don't mean this as a shot at the members that trashed the guy in this thread. I just found myself having a reaction to it and wanted to add my thoughts to the conversation. I don't expect ya to agree with all or any of what I think. I just found it sorta sucking that this thread started out with some remorse and members saying R.I.P. but then quickly spiraled into a series of speculations and accusations about a guy who will never have the chance to defend himself or his choices. Anything but letting him rest in peace y'know? Sure, there's all kinds of room for us to debate the sociological ramifications of drug abuse and whether our positions fall more on the side of blaming the addict or lean towards seeking some kind of compassionate understanding. My personal beliefs tend to sway back and forth and I work in the field of helping people with these kinds of factors in their history so, for me, I doubt there's really a simple concrete truth to be found on the matter. The bottom line, in my opinion at least, is that we're all pretty much just mortal beings doing our best to get by while we're here while trying to enjoy ourselves and each other as much as possible without causing too much grief to others along the way. I doubt Paul was much different.
Sorry for the huge read haha... Work's slow