Most of the people love music, and many of them even idolize their favorite singers and musicians. Mystified by the brilliance of the music created by some of the great exponents, we tend to put them on a pedestal and hail their glory.
The fans often go hysterical at concerts swaying and grooving to the tunes created by their favorite musicians, oblivious of the world for a while.
For the fans, they are no ordinary mortals, but heroes whom they adore and look up to. But they too have their issues in life and go through normal grill like us, the common people. Creative excellence and mental illness are often interconnected, especially when it comes to creating music. Mental health services in Los Angeles stand witness to many such stories.
Let us take a look at some of the musical greats who suffered from one mental condition or the other and the ensuing battle:
Syd Barrett – Pink Floyd: Undeniably a great musician from a renowned band, Syd Barrett was speculated to have suffered from either bipolar or schizophrenia, although it was never confirmed officially. After his erratic behavior became too hot to handle he left the band in 1968. His breakaway from the band left a profound influence on it and most of the songs during the later stage revolved around mental illnesses. He also was a heavy drug addict which could have precipitated the mental illness.
Kurt Cobain – Nirvana: His was the case of a great career cut short by the demons like mental disorder and addiction. He was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) at an early age, which later translated into bipolar disorder as he grew up. His agony showed in the lyrics of his eponymous songs. His condition further deteriorated which led him to take his own life. A great talent lost to mental illness.
Sinéad O’Connor: Yet another music legend, Sinéad O’Connor, also suffered from bipolar disorder. She could not enjoy the enormous success that ensued after her rendition of hit numbers like Nothing Compares 2 U due to bipolar disease. She could come out of it after several visits to clinics and rehab centers.
Ray Davies – The Kinks: Ray Davis of The Kinks fame suffered from bipolar disorder and not many people were aware of. Their classy songs were what people knew about but not the inner struggle of Ray Davis. He once said in an interview: “I’d just come offstage and sunk a bottle of downers because I wanted to kill myself, then I changed my mind. I was dressed as a dandy, it might have looked like a clown to everyone else. But even clowns can have bad days.” His mental condition had driven him to the verge of suicide.
Brian Wilson – The Beach Boys: Brian Wilson is another classic example of a musician suffering from bipolar disease. His mental problems brought the group to a stage of dismantling it, but proper medication at the right juncture prevented it from breaking away. They went on to create great music after this.
Daniel Johnston: He was sheer brilliant and creative when it comes to music. But Daniel Johnston was also a manic depressive and spent most of his time in rehabs. However, despite this handicap, he went on to create some fabulous music that generations would relish.
It is indeed quite surprising to see our heroes struggling with mental conditions. Many have found solace in the mental health facilities in California and gone on to create great works in the field of music.