Going... going... Gahan...?

DAVE GAHAN narrowly escaped death for the second time in less than a year last week.

Responding to an emergency 911 call at 1.15am on May 28, from an unnamed woman saying that she was Gahan's roommate, deputies of the West Hollywood Sheriff's department and paramedics knocked down the door of Gahan's room at the Sunset Marquis Hotel, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.

They found the 34-year-old Depeche Mode singer unconscious in the bathroom.. They also found a "sizeable amount" of what they believed to be a mixture of heroin and cocaine, as well as drug paraphernalia. Gahan was rushed to Cedars Sinai Medical Centre for emergency treatment where staff confirmed that he had been treated for a drug overdose.

He was kept under police guard while in hospital and as soon as he was discharged, at 8.30am, he was arrested and taken to the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station where he was booked for possession of controlled substances, a felony offence, as well as charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance, a misdemeanour. He was released at 12.30pm on $10,000 bail.

This is the second time in under a year that Gahan has been rushed to Cedars Sinai for emergency treatment, in August 1995, he was admitted to the hospital with "lacerations to the wrists consistent with being slashed with a razor blade", according to the Sheriff's department. Statements from Depeche Mode's management and record company followed denying that Gahan had made a suicide attempt. Spokespeople for Gahan said that he had "accidentally cut his wrists during a party at his home". The Sheriff's department would not confirm wether it was Gahan who had dialled the 911 emergency number.

Shortly before the accident, Depeche Mode co-founder Andy Fletcher (1) had left the band and Gahan had split with his second wife, Theresa.  

FOLLOWING THE latest incident, Gahan's record company, Mute, who have had the band under contract since 1981 have been tight-lipped about the singer. However, sources close to him do admit that he has problems. One American friend said that he doesn't believe that the latest incident was a suicide attempt. He claimed Gahan had been undergoing treatment for drug dependency for at least two years, since the band came off their Devotional Tour in 1994.

Another source said that he had just come out of a 12-step drug rehabilitation programme, shortly before his overdose. If that is true it would suggest that the overdose was more likely to have been the result of an accident than a suicide attempt. Also, the presence of another person in the room with Gahan, the woman who called 911, would make a suicide attempt seem less likely.

The hospital would not confirm whether or not Gahan had been injecting the heroin/cocaine cocktail. In medical circles this combination is known as a Brompton's Cocktail and is sometimes administered to terminally-ill patients, particularly those suffering pain from cancer. Known colloquially as a 'speedball', the combination is favoured by many junkies because of the euphoria that the two drugs bring: the cocaine gives the user an immediate rush of energy, awareness and clarity while the heroin smoothes out the 'come-down' effects from the cocaine, which gives only a short-duration high. Many users inject larger quantities of 'speedballs' that they would of heroin, which can lead to overdoses. Also, if a user had just been through rehab and was drug free, their level of tolerance to the drug would have been diminishedand would have made the user vlnerable as soon as they injected quantities they were used to while a regular user. Other famous 'speedball' victims include the comedian John Belushi.

When NME's Gavin Martin interviewed Depeche Mode in September 1993, during the Devotional Tour, he found Gahan very obviously ill, his arms bruised and scratched. Martin was later told that this was a result of the singer being bitten and scratched by fans. In interviews, Gahan denied that he had a drug dependency problem, although he once admitted that he drank too much.

FORMED IN Basildon, Essex, in the early-'80s, Depeche Mode were originally lumped alongside the electro/futurist scene presided over by DJ Stevo. The band made their recording debut on his Some Bizarre compilation alongside Soft Cell and Blancmange. Depeche Mode scored their first hit with 'New Life', a pristine electronic pop track written by Vince Clarke, who left to form Yazoo and later Erasure.

The Band established themselves primarily as a pop act in the UK, though in the US and Europe were taken more seriously. By '87, the time of film-maker DA Pennebaker's documentary 101, they were a massive stadium act, certainly as big as U2 and garnering the same critical acclaim Stateside as the likes of New Order. They also built up a fanatical, almost religious following in Europe. The music became darker, moving away from the optimistic 'new town' pop of their early-'80s debut album, 'Speak And Spell', through to the grandiose, almost humourless 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion' in 1993.

Depeche Mode had been working together on new material. Martin Gore had written new songs and they were due to go back into the studio in August. At present no-one seems to know how these plans will be affected. The album is tentatively on the release schedules for the first quarter of 1997.

Whatever Gahan's personal and drug-related problems, he now has to contend with a potentially more serious legal issue. Possession of heroin can carry a jail sentence although the amount found in the hotel room is still unknown and it is not known if the drugs belonged to Gahan. It is unlikely that a prison sentence will be handed out to someone of Gahan's standing, though a condition of any probation will be that he attends a rehabilitation programme approved by the Los Angeles courts.

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