What's the price of fame? For Sheryl Crow, it was a body count in the wake of her debut, Tuesday Night Music Club.
When her record label was reluctant to release her first stab at an album that she cut with producer-to-the-stars Hugh Padgham, the one-time back-up singer was brought into an informal gathering of talented players and songwriters called Tuesday Night Music Club by then-boyfriend Kevin Gilbert. Once their album was complete, she broke up with Gilbert, hooked up with a marketing exec at her record company and took the TNMC name for her "solo" album but abandoned the guys who primarily wrote, played and produced it. Gilbert later tragically died in what was apparently a solo session of his own--autoerotic asphyxiation gone awry.
Similarly, author John O'Brien had only asked for a "thanks for the inspiration" in return for using the title of his book, Leaving Las Vegas, for what became one of Crow's early big hits. His Music Clubber friend David Baerwald was assured that O'Brien would receive acknowledgment, but it never made the album credits, much to O'Brien's anguish. Crow later told David Letterman that the song was autobiographical (though she'd never been to Las Vegas). And according to a San Francisco Chronicle remembrance of Gilbert written in the wake of his passing, it was Baerwald who started writing the song, which was finished with the help of the rest of the TNMC crew and little--if any--contribution by Crow. O'Brien took his own life not long after his book reached the top of the hit parade.
With that in mind, does Crow actually wield the touch of death? Up until last weekend, you might laugh at us for such a thought. Eric Clapton and Lance Armstrong survived well-publicized liaisons with Crow, and ironically, the biggest criticism that could be leveled at her facile amalgam of pop, rock, singer-songwriter fare and, lately, touches of folk and country is that it's as safe as milk.
But it looks like such fears are a little too spot-on, as Crow has cancelled her March tour (including Friday's Dallas appearance) to recover from breast cancer surgery. Though our deepest sympathies go out to her (and, fortunately, media outlets report that her prognosis is "excellent"), we wonder if this is karmic retribution for her trail of dead. Perhaps breaking Armstrong's cancer-surviving heart resulted in a voodoo spell, or maybe fate is simply delivering payback for that crappy cover of "The First Cut Is the Deepest," which made Rod Stewart's rehash--from which she filched the arrangement--of the Cat Stevens original sound decent in comparison.
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Whatever the case may be, we hope this scare will kick some real rock 'n' roll blood and guts into her music. Until then, concertgoers should call this divine intervention, as people are better off skeet shooting with her CDs as targets than attending her concerts.