Everyone who is anyone in the entertainment world has been crawling all over themselves to utter the most profound assessment of Houston’s remarkable talents in all of the aspects of the entertainment world she pursued.
Houston had a phenomenal voice. She was a pleasure to listen to. She was a treasure in the annals of entertainment, but she had problems to go with all her stellar performances and fame. Namely, alcohol and drug dependency. “The wages of sin are death” seems to fit this human tragedy.
As little as I knew about Whitney Houston, she seemed to be a beautiful person in many ways. I hate to see any other human die, but since death finds us all we need to somehow come to grips it. The electronic wringing of hands in despair that the media subjected us to since Houston’s death doesn’t do much to assuage the average person’s ability to cope with the inevitable.
The entertainment industry should also be ashamed for allowing another of its own to leave us prematurely. I have seen the likes of John Belushi, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson and even Elvis Presley all die from addictions to alcohol, drugs or both. There have been many other accidental deaths as well, not to mention the entertainers who have committed suicide as a result of the demons of addiction.
I met a man a few years ago who was with the band Custer’s Last Band. The group played mostly in Las Vegas. I asked him how long the group had been together and he said 25 years. I asked him what their secret was of being together so long. He said that they all had a meeting early in their career and jointly decided that show business wasn’t show girls or show booze or show drugs. It was show business and with that mindset they had survived as entertainers for a quarter century.
Being an entertainer isn’t easy. You first have to have the talent to perform. You then have to have the courage to get in front of an audience and perform your talent. Lastly, you have to have the intestinal fortitude — sheer guts — to withstand either the kudos or ridicule your performance might create. Either one can be a gut-wrenching experience for any entertainer.
I saw Roger Miller perform at John Ascuaga’s Nugget several years ago. We went to the dinner show and were waiting anxiously for Miller to come on stage. When he finally did, he was late and obviously very, very drunk. He tried, but failed to perform and the show was abruptly cancelled, and he never performed again. It was sad to see the demise of an entertainer right in front of your eyes, but there it was. Roger Miller had been “King of the Road” in his day and we had to look at what had become of him. Yes, we had a show alright, but it was really an American tragedy playing out before our very eyes.
Whitney Houston, rest in peace. God knows you deserve it.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.