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The Price of Fame
September 14, 2007 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Brad Laidman critiques the findings from the Centre For Public Health at Liverpool John Moore University report [pdf] 'Elvis to Eminem: quantifying the price of fame through early mortality of European and North American rock and pop stars.'

"Conclusion: Pop stars can suffer high levels of stress in environments where alcohol and drugs are widely available, leading to health-damaging risk behaviour. However, their behaviour can also influence would-be stars and devoted fans. Collaborations between health and music industries should focus on improving both pop star health and their image as role models to wider populations." [hat tip to bigOmagazine]
posted by tellurian (25 comments total)

 
I see that cancer still beats drugs and alcohol.
posted by tellurian at 8:33 AM on September 14, 2007


Howsabout improving their music while we're at it?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:39 AM on September 14, 2007


Better yet, how about teaching kids to choose better role models?
posted by DU at 8:40 AM on September 14, 2007


Price of fame, my ass. How about the price of constant travel?

And how about netting out the price of fame by adding in the value of death? I guarantee that most of the dead rock stars (yes, the drummer from Boston= a stretch) are making far more money today as Dead Rock Stars. Elvis is the prime example.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:48 AM on September 14, 2007


Some dudes at the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moore University, successfully conned someone into paying them to compare the life expectancy of rock stars to the general public. They were apparently qualified to do this because the Beatles were from Liverpool and they had really good weed.

The Beatles might have had really good weed, but I suspect that the authors are suffering from this terrible weed drought like the rest of us. Can't think why else someone as smart as John Ashton would be involved in this load of old rubbish.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:50 AM on September 14, 2007


Wait a minute...Eminem is dead?
posted by DU at 8:50 AM on September 14, 2007


Also, the premise of a collaboration between health care organizations and rock stars aimed at improving their health and their image as role models? Somebody's pitching that sitcom right now.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:53 AM on September 14, 2007


Wow - that report managed to take all of the fun out of rock and roll and bad behavior. A lot of my favorite musicians were junkies, alcoholics, deviants, and walking train wrecks (but enough about Aerosmith), but that never made me try to live that lifestyle. If anything, the O.D.s, diminishing talent, and seeing what years of abuse can do to your body and face scream out "Don't let this happen to you". Plus many of my favorite rock stories involve crossing the line of good sense, and it would sadden me to know that those days are over.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:00 AM on September 14, 2007


in environments where alcohol and drugs are widely available

As opposed to all those environments where alcohol and drugs are not widely available.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:13 AM on September 14, 2007


Well this is disheartening. Every week the nightly news informs me of a study done somewhere that further pushes the bounds of science and human knowledge. (Why, just the other day I was stunned to discover that men rank attractiveness higher than any other asset when scouting out possible mates. Astounding!) If the media start reporting on drivel-producing "studies" such as this, I won't be able to trust my anchorpersons as reliable newsmen and women.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 9:16 AM on September 14, 2007


If many of them had just stayed home, they'd still be alive. It comes across more as a critique of the travel industry than anything else.
posted by tommasz at 9:26 AM on September 14, 2007


Eminem is dead?
posted by delmoi at 9:39 AM on September 14, 2007


Wait a minute...Eminem is dead?

Damn you DU *shakes fist*
posted by delmoi at 9:40 AM on September 14, 2007


As opposed to all those environments where alcohol and drugs are not widely available.

Right....? Like church, school, work, the library. Etc.
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on September 14, 2007


Eminem's been dead for years. To me.
posted by NationalKato at 9:42 AM on September 14, 2007


Eminem is dead?

To me, he is.

Ever since that damn duet with Elton John.
posted by flarbuse at 9:44 AM on September 14, 2007


The drummer from Boston is not a Rock Star no matter how long he does or does not live

This needs to be said often and everywhere, even in conversations where it's not remotely relevant.

But seriously, that's a pretty stunning rebuttal. Only one Rolling Stone is dead, yes? And it's not Keith Richards? 3/4 of Led Zeppelin still alive? No Beatles died of drug overdoses? All members of Cream still kicking? Bob Dylan still around? etc...
posted by shmegegge at 9:54 AM on September 14, 2007


Only one Rolling Stone is dead, yes? And it's not Keith Richards? 3/4 of Led Zeppelin still alive? No Beatles died of drug overdoses? All members of Cream still kicking? Bob Dylan still around?

When you put it that way, it's surprising there aren't more Glorious Rock Deaths resulting from complications during hip replacement surgery.
posted by DU at 10:05 AM on September 14, 2007


If you count Ian Stewart there's two Stones down. But he was a staunch opponent of the band's debauchery, did not do drugs, and died of a heart attack in his fifties.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:07 AM on September 14, 2007


Ha ha. Sucked in. You thought this was just about rock and pop stars. It's also a thinly veiled a swipe at the state of the American health industry. Read page 4. "Further, at 25 years post fame even the relative effects of stardom in each continent diverge. Here, European pop star mortality begins to return towards general population levels, while North American star mortality remains high… In fact, as the general population survival for North American blacks is so much poorer than that for whites, exclusion of non-whites from both North American pop stars and matched populations increases differences between European and North American stars after 25 years of fame. Divergence in mortality 25 years post fame might be explained by differences in longer-term experience of fame with more performing in later years (eg, nostalgic or reunion tours), continued media interest and associated stress and substance use in North American pop stars. However, this divergence may also reflect the pop star experience in North America being more likely to generate chronic ill health. In both continents, those reaching 25 years’ fame also have a median age when chronic conditions and healthcare needs begin to escalate (around 50 years old; table 3). However, the North American pop stars appear more susceptible to chronic conditions (eg, cardiovascular disease; table 2) and consequently their associated excess mortality may continue later into life than the excess acute drug- and alcohol-related deaths more common in Europe (table 2). Moreover, the prognosis for pop stars who find themselves with poor health and impoverished in later life could also be substantially worse in North America should they have no health insurance.
posted by tellurian at 10:18 AM on September 14, 2007


I was immediately reminded of Greil Marcus' Rock Death list from In The Fascist Bathroom. A cursory search doesn't locate it online, but luckily there are imitations.

Dying due to the additional access [myriad drug and travel options] that fame provides is like being a casualty in a war of attrition. It could hapen to anyone. Remember Peter Laughner?
posted by Minus215Cee at 12:04 PM on September 14, 2007


Right....? Like church, school, work, the library. Etc.

I think you're going to the wrong school and work.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:44 PM on September 14, 2007



Actually, the critique is nonsense. The study is rather silly, but it has an N of over 1000 (not a small sample as the guy claims) and was selected from a pool on the top 1000 albums, not just by picking and choosing examples to make a point the way Laidman did.

You can argue with the assumptions made about the reasons for the excess mortality-- and certainly with the notion that rock stars are genuinely interested in public health-- but it is from what I can see, not methodologically flawed in the way this guy claims.

Studies of excess mortality do not limit themselves to directly "drug-related" causes of death because excess mortality in things like automobile accidents and can also reflect the underlying risk-taking behavior that is often associated with addiction.
posted by Maias at 2:03 PM on September 14, 2007


That's very reasoned Maias. Thank you.
posted by tellurian at 6:32 AM on September 15, 2007


Last word from Brad Laidman.
posted by tellurian at 4:21 PM on September 16, 2007


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