13. Billie Holiday
Legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday had a thriving music career before succumbing to alcoholism. Holiday had a troubled upbringing and found solace in music. She was sexually abused as a child and her mother briefly worked as a sex worker to make ends meet. When she was 18, she was discovered performing at a Harlem jazz club. The talented performer was ahead of her time and had a major influence on American music. Her controversial song, “Strange Fruit,” was a powerful, moving ballad about the lynching of African Americans in the South.
The fearless, innovative star was truly one-of-a-kind. Unfortunately, she found herself in a string of abusive relationships. She began using heroin with one of her boyfriends. After her mother died, she began drinking more heavily and abusing drugs to cope with her grief. In 1947, she was arrested and sent to jail for narcotics possession. Shortly before her death, she was admitted to the hospital for heart and liver problems. Years of hard living had taken a toll on her health. She was so addicted to heroin that, while she was in the hospital, she was arrested for possession. She died from complications from drug and alcohol addiction in 1959.
Photo source: Billie Holiday 4 by Steven Locurcio