Diabetics in Profile – Male Performers: In this column we would like to take a look at the lives of several well-known individuals who just happened to live with diabetes. The intent of this article is to provide encouragement for those who think life may have passed them by following a diagnosis of diabetes.
Elvis Presley – not only the King of Rock and Roll, but also a diabetic. He kept this part of his life relatively quiet. Those who knew about the role of diabetes in Presley’s life rarely commented on it. The prevailing belief was that this legend pursued life with such vitality that it didn’t seem important to bring it up. Presley’s death in 1977 does not indicate diabetes was a contributing factor.
Bret Michaels – the front man for the rock group Poison, Michaels has had diabetes since he was six years old. He has taken thousands of insulin shots and has even passed out on stage due to issues with his blood sugar, but Michaels is passionate about not allowing diabetes to incapacitate him. He simply does when he needs to do to get it under control.
Johnny Cash – the “Man in Black” lived with diabetes and suffered from complications during the 1990’s and early in the new millennium. He died from complications of the disease in 2003. He will be known for fusing multiple musical styles into a rockabilly/country sound that no one has dared duplicate.
David Crosby – a legend of folk rock Crosby has been entertaining audiences since 1963. He has also lived with diabetes and in 1993 endured a liver transplant. While often controversial Crosby has continued his musical pursuits.
Jerry Garcia – front man for the Grateful Dead, Garcia had seen millions of dollars in ticket sales and engaged in solo and collaborative work. It is believed Garcia was in a diabetic coma when he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1995.
Mark Collie – a rising star in the 1990’s Collie has used his elevated national platform to bring attention to diabetes. His own status as a diabetic has helped fuel passion for his involvement in the “Mark Collie Celebrity Motorsports Festival For Diabetes Cure”. He is also a regular volunteer for the American Diabetes Association. Collie’s career has included acting in several television shows.
Nick Jonas – a meteoric rise in popularity for the band Jonas Brothers has meant lots of touring and multiple recording sessions. Jonas discovered in 2005 that he had Type 1 diabetes. By 2007 Jonas was sharing his story with others and continues to try and raise awareness of the disease. He wears an insulin pump to regulate insulin delivery.
James Brown – having every right to give up Brown refused. He’s been called the hardest working man in show business. He was stillborn, but one of his aunts refused to let him go. She kept blowing into his lungs until he started breathing on his own. Brown grew up in a very poor family. He dropped out of school and was caught trying to steal a car. Time in prison allowed him to reorganize his priorities and music was rotated to the top of the list. His career took off, but he struggled with tax issues and the death of a son. He would spend another two years in prison, but would return once again to his music prior to his death.
This is a short list of popular male performers who live/lived with diabetes. Hopefully their successes encourage you to engage life in the midst of coping with your disease.