By Barry McGuire
Special to ASSIST News Service
Whitney Houston slips away to the other side of life returning to the source from which she came. What a tragedy for us, the ones she’s left behind. I can’t help but think back on my early years as a recording artist – 300 shows a year for three years in a row. Up at 5 a.m., off to the airport, five or six hours in the air, a quick check in, a shower, then off to the venue for a sound check and the show. Then back to my room around midnight for five or six hours of sleep until the next morning when it starts all over again, day after day, week after week, year after year. When we weren’t traveling, we were recording.
If you have talent, and the music business can make money off of that talent, they will literally chew you up, swallow you whole, and
when you’re finished, they’ll defecate you into a ditch on the side of the road while all the time looking for their next “meal.”
The pressure of my schedule was crushing me, and then one day a friend turned me onto marijuana. What a relief it was to be able to mellow out, sit back, and let reality unfold. Everything was easier, funnier, and the food was tastier. The colors were brighter, and the sex was more sensual. It was a life-changer for me. What started off with one or two joints a day wound up with me smoking a half a dozen or more. By the end of the day, I would be so laid back from the grass, that I started using amphetamines to jack me up for the show. Then after the show, I’d be flying so high I’d use barbiturates to slow me down so I could get to sleep.
Because many of my friends were doing the same thing, I didn’t think my lifestyle was that bizarre, but then over the years, we lost so many – Cass Elliot, Hoyt Axton, Timmy Hardin, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, John Philips, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Lenny Bruce and those are just the famous people we know of. There are dozens more whose names were never known.
So many artists are hard-wired, manic-depressives and they use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate because they don’t want to feel the way they feel.
Mental illness is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. So please my friends, if you know anyone lost in a world of drugs and alcohol, do everything you can to get them help.
For me, help came through a spiritual awakening. I discovered the Christ living within me and around me. I had reached a point where I daily considered suicide, when I heard a small voice whispering within me telling me that it actually wanted me to commit suicide, but not biologically. It wanted me to die, but not physically. It assured me that if I were to totally lay down my life, just as though I had actually died, just let go and let God, that reality, itself, would lift me up, cradle me, guide me and direct me onto a life-sustaining path that was and still is beyond my ability to imagine.
So one night in May of 1971, I did that very thing. Barry McGuire died while lying on the floor of a house filled with friends, all laughing, smoking dope, eating peyote, drinking champagne and organic orange juice. Oh yes, it had to be organic! We certainly didn’t want any of those chemicals in our orange juice.
The next day when I woke up, I asked the little voice within me. “Now what do I do?” And it told me to leave Hollywood and return to Fresno, Calif., where my Uncle lived. He was an Armenian man who knew Christ, and had loved me since I was a little boy. That was my new beginning. That’s when I was truly born again. Just like a caterpillar dying to itself, and being birthed again as a butterfly, just as a tadpole letting go of all that it is, so it can become a new creation, and experience a whole different level of reality.
That gift is waiting there for every man, woman and child on the planet. The tragedy is, so few of them know it. And how will they ever discover this wonderful gift of forgiveness and life, if they only see judgment streaming from Christian eyes and condemnation screaming from Christian lips? Jesus Himself said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “Where are your accusers?” And when she looked around, they were all gone.
And her reply to Christ was, “There are none.” And with love-filled eyes, He gazed upon her saying, “I don’t accuse you either. Go, and sin no more.” Love never forgives because it doesn’t have to. It never takes offense and keeps no record of wrong doing.
Probably the only Christ that Whitney ever saw was the judgmental, finger-pointing, Bible-bashing, hell and brimstone fundamental Christianity that we’ve all come to think of as “the church.” How could Whitney ever be condemned for rejecting the false image of Christ that she’d been exposed to? But now, in my heart of hearts I know she is having a face to face with Love, Itself and that Love is saying to her, “I don’t accuse you either Whitney, be at peace, come, live with Me forever.”
Anyway, that’s my take on it. I’m sure there are many different opinions, philosophies and doctrines that look at it from a totally different perspective, but we all choose the path we want to walk, and the path I’ve chosen is a path that doesn’t even recognize an offense. My mandate from God is to Love those around me. I’ve come to know that God is the Judge. Christ is the Forgiver, and all I have to do is Love those whom God brings into my life.
This is just something to consider when you think of Whitney.
Barry McGuire, now 76 years old and married to New Zealand-born Mari, is one of the true survivors of the music business. He had a huge hit in the sixties called “Eve of Destruction,” was lead singer for several years with the New Christy Ministries, played the male lead in HAIR on Broadway, opposite Dianne Keaton, and was responsible for the Mamas & the Papas getting their first record deal. After many years of substance abuse, he became a Christian. You can find out more about his career at www.barrymcguire.com or www.trippinthesixties.com.