Drowning Pools Dave Williams: Lonn's Apology in Post Mortem

By Lonn Friend, Senior Contributor
Friday, October 11, 2002 @ 10:19 PM

Lonn Friend on Dave Williams'

- advertisement -
“I appreciate the kind words you wrote about Dave. That said, I also feel the need to tell you that you have done an injustice in insinuating that cocaine led to Dave's death. A heavy drinker yes - A habitual coke user no. To this moment, the media has exhibited heartfelt sadness surrounding Dave's passing and only one person has brought up drugs - that being you my friend. That will possibly come with Toxicology, but that is for another week. Not for speculation and conjecture before he was even laid to rest. I am sure you meant no harm, but for those of us left to tend with the legend, this is simply inappropriate.

“Nobody out there has felt a need to fuel speculation. Who knows how Dave died. As far as anybody is concerned, the autopsy revealed heart failure and nothing else. Why you would feel so smart as to think that you could insinuate cause of death baffles me. Coming from you, a true friend of artists, I was shocked at your timing. What you write down the road means nothing. You have already damaged his memory by putting this out there before he was buried and stating he was a user. If you ever truly knew Dave, you would have had a million other, more important things share...perhaps this can be a lesson so nobody in the future has to send an e-mail like I have been forced to.”

– Steve Karas, Wind-up Records

I have agonized over this correspondence for several reasons, not the least of which being my own personal shame for casting aspersions on the cause of death of an artist who lived and died doing what he loved…playing rock ‘n roll. In my piece, Drowning at High Tide, posted here on August 16, 2002, I made the following statement that inspired the response above.

“Okay, one detour. No more Mr. Nice Guy. This is about cocaine, snow, the A list white toxic fairy dust that took out the Who's bass player and apparently (or allegedly, whatever term cushions the, uh, blow) may have had a hand in dear Dave's departure. How this satanic substance ever got back in vogue only, well, Satan knows for sure. It is the single most seductive and destructive lie ever perpetrated on the pop culture. Let's do a line, get our hearts pumpin', and rule the world! Wait, that blast is wearing off. Let's do another one, a fatter one, and suck it up really high into the nasal cavity, the canal that leads right to our brain! Oh man, do I feel good! But wait, that rail is losing its pull. Hey, blast-tender, gimme one more for the road. The road to perdition.”

In preparing my eulogy, I spoke to several individuals close to Dave. Two people in particular gave me the impression that cocaine may have been involved in his demise. I used the word ‘may’ above to soften the indictment since the facts were not in on official cause of death. I confess that – regardless of semantics or clever phrasing – my comment was grossly inappropriate. And not just that, it was irresponsible journalism.

In 1990, I was interviewing a rock star riding high on success and the decadent trappings therein. He excused himself mid-conversation to ‘take a shower.’ When he returned almost an hour later, he was visibly high on smack. I wrote the piece but never mentioned the incident. I didn’t think it lent anything to the story. I was always the writer who protected the privacy of artists. Let Hit Parader build their fan base on dirty laundry. RIP Magazine existed to exalt the glory of rock, hail the heroes and praise the anthems. Tabloid fodder never interested me. Every time I got a call from a mainstream newspaper or TV program like that horrific “A Current Affair” to confirm a rumor of heavy metal bad behavior, I responded with ‘no comment.’

In my passion, empathy and haste to articulate on Dave Williams’s unfortunate demise, I got distracted by a sociopolitical rant that really had no place in the piece to begin with. I have a deep disgust for cocaine and its destructive properties. But as the toxicology reports recently verified, Dave had no such substance in his system and I was wrong for even alluding to its possibility. Steve Karas was correct in taking me to task for erring in judgment and I wish now to humbly and sincerely apologize to him and the entire Williams family, his friends, fans and all who’ve suffered from his premature departure.

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