When you lose a child: the musicians who have faced the greatest tragedy

At the beginning of 1976, the The Rolling Stones were going through a complex period. Between the onslaught of new rock trends and creative stagnation, the band was trying to get their next album out black and bluebut remained scattered. Between drugs and legal problems, guitarist Keith Richards received great news; his partner, Anita Pallenberg, gave birth to a premature child whom they named Tara.

But he couldn’t enjoy his offspring for long. Soon after, Richards, who was mired in heroin addiction, had to embark on the European tour of the Stones. ”Keith looked ghastly, and he played even worse. A lot of heroin was consumed with constant problems at the border crossings”, details Borja Figueroa in his book The Rolling Stones.

While the band was putting on very weak shows, even with opening act The Meters playing at a better level, Keith got a call from Switzerland, where he was living at the time. “Anita told him that Tara, aged eleven weeks, had drowned in the crib. Anita took a plane to Paris to be with Keith and spend the pain together. There was talk of calling off the tour, but Keith turned it down, the threat of the comedown was too great.”

As he could, Richards kept playing, although far from his best level, which added to the pain, intensified his addiction to the drug. “The boy’s remains were cremated in Geneva, and at the end of the tour, Keith and Anita checked into a London hotel. They never went back to Switzerland.”

The morning of March 20, 1991, was the most painful that Eric Clapton experienced. In those days, the guitarist was in New York after the promotional tour of his album Journeyman, and had been alcohol-free for three years, thanks to rehabilitation treatment. So, It coincided that her 5-year-old son Conor was passing through the city with his mother, the Italian model Lory del Santo and her partner.

Clapton did not see his son very often, but taking advantage of the fact that they were in the same city, he decided to resume the relationship. One night he went to look for him and took him to a circus performance that amazed the little boy. “It was the first time I took it by myself and I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was an amazing night. Conor did not stop talking and had a particularly good time seeing the elephants. He made me realize for the first time what it meant to have a child and to be a father, ”he explains in Clapton: autobiography.

They had such a good time that the musician agreed with his mother to pick up the boy the next day to take him to the Zoo, until the tragedy occurred. “The main hall had floor-to-ceiling windows on one side that could be cantilevered for cleaning. But there were no railings on the windows, because the building was a condominium and not subject to the usual building regulations. That morning the janitor was cleaning the windows and left them open”, says the musician.

“Conor was running around the apartmentplaying hide and seek with the nanny, and while Lori was distracted talking to the janitor, who warned her of the danger, he ran into the room and went straight to the window. He then fell forty-nine stories before landing on the roof of an adjacent four-story building., remember. He found out because the heartbroken mother called him on the phone to let him know.

The tragedy devastated him. He spent the next few weeks between England and the island of Antigua just playing guitar. There little by little songs began to come out, among these, one that will become a classic of his discography, tears in heavenwhich reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 ranking.

If the middle of the seventies had been hard for the Stones, it was also hard for Led Zeppelin. Not only because they were challenged by the punk wave, which considered them “old men”, but they had added problems before returning to the tours. In 1975 a car accident in Rhodes, Greece, left Robert Plant with serious injuries which took almost a year of rehabilitation.n. He even recorded the vocals for the Presence album, in a wheelchair or on crutches.

But getting back on the road would not be easy. When they were ready, a surprising laryngitis affected Plant, forcing the start of the tour to be delayed. Worse yet, the band couldn’t rehearse because they had already shipped all of their equipment overseas. Thus, only with experience, they were able to play again. But the tragedies did not end; the shows were uninspired and there were even episodes of violence, such as a group of fans who tried to force their way into a show in Cincinnati without a ticket, which caused clashes with the police. But the worst was yet to come.

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They were in New Orleans when Plant was told that his eldest son, Karac, was not well. “The first phone call said that his son was sick”recalls the tour manager, Richard Cole, in a chat with the Ultimate Classic Rock portal. “And on the second phone call, unfortunately, Karac had died at that point.” The cause was said to be a stomach infection.

The fact triggered a deep shake in the band. Although his classmates gave him space for Plant to go home to spend the bitter moment with his family, only drummer John Bonham accompanied him in those days; neither Jimmy Page nor John Paul Jones attended the funeral. “During the darkest moments of my life, when I lost my son and my family was in disarray, it was Bonzo (Bonham) who came to me.. The other boys were [del] south [de Inglaterra] and I don’t have the same kind of social etiquette that we have here in the north that could actually bridge that uncomfortable chasm with all the necessary sensibilities,” the singer explained in a chat with Onstage Magazine in 2013.

Plant even slipped the possibility of not continuing in music. “I was thinking of leaving the group, but Jimmy Page stopped me from doing it”, counted time later. But anyway, along with the excesses in the tours, some of the vital energy of the group was gone. “In ’77, when I lost my son, I really didn’t want to hang around,” the musician made clear. After the tragedy, the band only released one album In Through the Out Dooruntil Bonham’s death in September 1980 would deal the final blow.

The Bassist for Soda Stereo, he went through the terrible episode of losing his son Tobías in 1994. It happened when the two sons of the artist, Simon and the aforementioned Tobias were taken to the garden by another proxy. At a corner, the car was struck by another vehicle. There a brutal fire started.

While the flames devoured tapestries and iron, the woman managed to get Simón out, but when she tried to get Tobíashe didn’t get it. The minor was secured to a chair, and the violence of the flames was an insurmountable obstacle; he died in the car. They managed to locate his father only hours later.

“The saddest day of my life was when we buried Tobi in the San Fernando cemetery, in my family’s vault”Zeta pointed out in a conversation with LUN. “Her lungs were taken from the smoke from the combustion,” she added.

The event impacted the circle of Soda Stereo, at that time, they were distant due to Gustavo Cerati’s projects and his life in Santiago. “Suddenly the entire circle of Soda Stereo met again in the corridors of a hospital after a year and a half apart -Juan Morris details in his biography of Cerati-. The shock was so great The only way they found to react was to restore things and, shortly after, Gustavo, Zeta and Charly, locked themselves in a room again like in the old days.

The tragedy has raged with the Australian musician. In seven years he has had to face the terrible situation of burying two of his children. The first was Arthur, the result of his relationship with his current wife Susie, who died at the age of 15, in 2015, after falling into a ravine after consuming hallucinogenic drugs.

The event hit the musician. So much so that he took him to his work. His 2019 album, ghosteenis an ambitious work made up of two parts, called The Parents and The Children. There, she distilled all her pain, in reflections on consolation in the midst of the whirlwind of triggered emotions. “There is a pure heart, but around it is chaos”Cave wrote.

But the tragedy repeated itself. A few days ago, he himself had to confirm the death of his eldest son, Jethro, the result of a previous relationship with the model Beau Lazenby. It took the musician seven years to meet him, being immense in the swing of excesses and drugs that marked a good part of his career, and in some way elevated him to his status as an artist in the nineties. “I have two facets: one is constructive, the other tremendously destructive”It has been recognized.

There are still no further details of what happened to Jethro, who died at the age of 31 in Australia, after making a career between modeling and acting. Anyway, the boy had a history of abuse and violence towards his partner and his mother, which led him to prison. On May 5, he had been released on bail on the condition that he undergo rehabilitation treatment and avoid contact with his mother. Jethro’s lawyer, Sean Ghattas, said that his client suffered from schizophrenia, which caused him to react violently. Regardless, tragedy struck again at one of rock’s darkest men.

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