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Depeche Mode Singer Arrested After Overdose

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Depeche Mode lead singer David Gahan, who survived a suicide attempt last August, was arrested early Tuesday morning after overdosing on drugs, authorities said.

The arrest of Gahan, 34, for investigation of cocaine possession and being under the influence of heroin capped a traumatic weekend for the record industry.

Bradley Nowell, lead singer for the Long Beach-based punk-reggae trio Sublime, was found dead in his San Francisco motel room Saturday, apparently of a drug overdose. He was 28.

The weekend’s events cast a pall once again over the industry, which only last month applauded the Stone Temple Pilots for canceling all their shows until lead singer Scott Weiland overcomes his addiction problems. Industry observers hoped that the group’s action would trigger a move away from rock’s laissez faire attitude toward drug abuse, which remains a significant problem among today’s young bands.

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Michael Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and an outspoken figure in the campaign to raise industry consciousness about drug addiction, decried the “pitiful state” of the industry’s efforts.

“You can view this as a big step back,” Greene said of the weekend’s events, “but it’s pretty run of the mill. I can’t say that anybody would be surprised by [what happened] because we haven’t come close to turning the corner of raising the consciousness of people in our business to stop equating making music and creating songs with doing drugs.

“A lot of people still believe that those things are inexorably connected. But they’re not.”

A source says that Gahan, who was hospitalized briefly in Los Angeles last August after using a razor blade to slash 2-inch lacerations on each wrist, has been attending 12-step meetings during the past few years.

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“He looked good and seemed to be working very hard at keeping himself together,” the source said.

A spokesman for Depeche Mode said that the band, which has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide and was popular enough in Los Angeles to play shows at the Rose Bowl in 1988 and Dodger Stadium in 1990, was taking a three-month break after spending much of this year recording a new album in London and New York.

About 1:15 a.m. Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies and paramedics responding to a call of a drug overdose found Gahan passed out on the floor of a hotel room at the Sunset Marquis Hotel, according to Sgt. Guy Earl of the West Hollywood station.

Authorities found syringes in the room and believe that Gahan injected heroin, Earl said.

The singer, whose group’s best-known songs include “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Personal Jesus,” was treated for a drug overdose at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center before being taken to the sheriff’s station and booked.

He was released about noon Tuesday after posting a $10,000 bail with the promise to appear June 18 in Beverly Hills Municipal Court.

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Meanwhile, family and friends of Nowell were mourning the singer, who was married May 18 to Troy Dendekker, the mother of his infant son, Jakob.

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“He looked to expand his mind and seek escape in drugs,” Nowell’s father, Jim, said in a statement, “but [he] came too close to the edge with them and unintentionally took his own life.”

Nowell’s body was found Saturday about 11:30 a.m. after a night of partying, said the group’s co-manager, Jason Westfall.

The San Francisco County coroner’s office said the exact cause of death won’t be known for four to six weeks when test results are available.

“He’d fought a war with [heroin] over the last four or five years,” Westfall said. “He’d been clean for the last two months, and I want to emphasize that. You can think you have it licked and try to play with it again, but it may be the last time. People should know that.”


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