Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman takes a hard stance on the recent wave of opioid-related deaths, saying it’s our responsibility to help struggling individuals. Read his reflection below:
The show can’t go on.
Two weeks ago, I woke up to a text from [manager] Mike Mowery that Kyle Pavone’s father was trying to reach MusiCares. It’s not unusual to get these requests from people; I would forward them to the right person within the organization to see if we could help. Usually these requests are to help with a toothache, deal with a trailer that has flipped or assist someone who has broken a bone. Sometimes a person is having trouble with substance abuse and is directly reaching out for help.
What was unusual about this request was that Kyle’s father was actually reaching out through Mike to let me know that Kyle was dead, and they informed us that they wanted people to donate to the organization in his name. This is how I found out about his passing from opioids.
As most of us did, I went through a quick rundown of all the great We Came As Romans shows that I witnessed and how many tours we did together. How this was one of those bands who ground it out and survived in an ever-changing scene. How we would never see Kyle own a stage and connect with his audience again. However this time, that sadness I felt turned to a visceral rage deep inside my stomach.
Why was I learning that Kyle had a problem with opioids only from a grieving father when it was too late to help? Why was I not learning earlier that he needed help? Someone knew, a manager, an agent, a record label, a bandmate or a crewmember. Someone knew.
Petty, Jackson, Staley, Bennington, Cornell, Prince and now Kyle Pavone and Mac Miller among many others who all died too young. If you take them and add in all the people who make a show happen, the ones the public doesn’t hear about—the local stagehands, touring crews, truck and bus drivers—too many people are dying too young. Someone knew they needed help, but no one spoke up. I attribute this to the old saying, “The show must go on.”
We have all fought through injuries and our demons to make sure the show goes on. We tough it out because we don’t want to let our touring families and fans down. Very few of us can’t say when we get hurt that we have not self-medicated to get us through the day. A pill given by a friend or some rock doc in the past to get us to the next city; we all know we have. I did it, and for a short moment it made everything better. I was lucky I knew that these were not the answer, but for others, when they can’t get that pill it can turn to something else real quick.
My guess is that this was possibly how Kyle began his path to his untimely passing. However, my guess is that someone knew that he had moved on to become a regular user of opioids.
It’s now time that the people who can help realize the show does not have to go on, and unless we get our people help, it won’t go on. Be willing to speak out, and get people help. It is not being a rat to drop a dime on a friend who needs help. Forget that you may have to cancel a tour, delay a record, table a video shoot and/or not get your commission. Speak out to help others like Kyle, because someone knew.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is help to be found. Please consider these online resources:
FEND: Full Energy No Drugs anti-opioid initiative
SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration