Mindy McCready – A Sadly Familiar Tale


Mindy McCready (1975–2013)

The death of Mindy McCready has now been confirmed as suicide. This was a woman who was still young – only 37 – attractive, talented, intelligent, successful, famous and rich with it, ingredients that are an all too familiar recipe for an early death.

Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Karen Carpenter and Lena Zavaroni were all cut from the same cloth. Although none of these women took a gun to her own head, two of them died by their own hands in a sense. Both Joplin and Winehouse became members of the infamous 27 Club, musicians who died at that young age. Janis Joplin died from a heroin overdose in June 1970. Amy Winehouse died in July 2011; although substance abuse was a key factor in her demise as much as her death, like McCready it was her poor choice in men that sealed her fate.

Karen Carpenter, who was gifted with one of the most recognisable voices in contemporary music, died from heart failure in February 1983, not quite 33. Her death was brought on by anorexia nervosa, the same illness that took the life of 35 year old former child star Lena Zavaroni in October 1999. Both Carpenter and Zavaroni had short lived marriages, but these were not factors in their deaths. On the other hand, McCready – who outlived all four of these women – went through turbulent times with a former lover nearly murdering her, and drugs landing her in both gaol and hospital. The big question must be why? Why is it that when so many ordinary mortals struggle on into old age with their own share of marital or health problems or both, in addition to everything else life throws at us at times, why is it they survive while the talented and even the privileged do not?

Although this is one of life’s paradoxes, it is no mystery. The tortured artist has long been with us: Vincent Van Gogh who hacked off his own ear then shot himself at the age of 37; depressive lady author Virginia Woolf who aged 59 filled her pockets with stones and walked into the River Ouse; poetess Sylvia Plath who gassed herself at the young age of 30. If women artists have not quite been in the ascendant over the past half century, they are now just as much at risk as men.

Mindy McCready may not have been the greatest woman songwriter or the most famous Country star who ever lived, but her life and death are the stuff of legend. Expect to see a biopic sooner rather than later.

[The above article was published originally February 20, 2013. The above photograph was not included in the original article].

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