J M – Jeremy Michael Ward – The Mars Volta And Death At 27

Jeremy Michael Ward is one of the newer members of the forever 27 club. He died on May 25, 2003 at the age of 27 years and 20 days. His death exemplifies a morbid fascination with opiates that started to take hold in the music world back in the early 90s with the grunge scene. Fortunately, the trend has apparently slowed since the first half of the 2000s decade, and the hipness of heroin seems to be wearing off. Perhaps enough talented young people have needlessly died that their peers can see the error of this fascination with a dangerous and seductive substance. It certainly worked for Ward’s friends and band mates.

Ward was a founding member of The Mars Volta, and was active in other musical ventures as well. He was known as the sound tech and vocal operator, but he also played guitar and wrote lyrics for the band’s electronic-progressive rock compositions. In addition to his musical interests, he was an artist in the visual medium and was accomplished at pen and ink drawing.

The first full-length album by the group, De-Loused in the Comatorium, was filled with sounds and treatments created by Ward. It has become a classic of the genre, and one track from the album (Drunkship Of Lanterns) is on the Rolling Stone list of the best guitar songs of all time. The group recorded the album in Los Angeles and then went on tour in Europe, opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Flea of the Peppers had played bass on most of the album and other members of both bands were friends).

One month before the debut’s release and just after returning from the European leg of the tour, Ward was discovered in his LA home by a friend, apparently dead from an overdose of heroin, his drug of choice. The other members of The Mars Volta were reportedly so taken aback by his demise that they immediately stopped using, and have stayed clean.

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