Singer-songwriter Beth Remington was having a bad day. Her Facebook comment that morning read: “Just got my period and the car needs fixing.”
Actually, the car was still running, but it was due for the state emissions test, and performance had fallen way below Beth’s demands. She dropped off the car at a local service station called Auto Specialists. They were expensive: Their labor charge was $125 per hour, and they inflated their parts costs—“It’s difficult to get parts for these old cars, and you have a lot of custom parts,” they explained. But they did good work, and they knew how to hot-rod cars. In fact, they had upgraded Beth’s vintage Firebird.
Beth lived alone, except for occasional overnight stays by lovers. Some of those lovers were men, some were women. Beth summarized her lifestyle in one of her many Facebook messages: “I let the love boat sail on by years ago, so I could ride the sexy train for the rest of my days.” Her ballsy singing style and physical appearance reminded older fans of Janis Joplin. But she had a stronger voice and a more soulful style than Joplin. Beth didn’t have a manager. She booked and promoted her own gigs, and did much of her own studio work. For recording, mixing and editing, she used a software package called Audacity. It wasn’t the best music software available, but it was free—and she liked the name.
After she returned home, Beth decided to finish a song she’d been writing. The first line of the song was: “Lately I’ve been feeling, what’s the use.” The official title would probably be “What’s the Use?” But Beth thought of it as “The Suicide Song.” She wasn’t feeling suicidal, but she knew that suicide songs were becoming increasingly popular with teenagers. By the time she had finished paying “those greedy mechanics,” she would sorely need another hit song. Beth recorded a demo—playing her own keyboard accompaniment. Then she emailed the finished demo and lead sheet to her publisher in New York.
Next day, Beth picked up the Firebird at Auto Specialists, and gave “the crooks” a check for $932. Then she rolled onto the highway to check out the car. Almost immediately, a Mustang drew alongside and gave the well-known “VROOM…VROOM” invitation to drag-race. The driver looked barely old enough to drive. Normally, Beth would have told him to get lost. But this time, she thought it might be interesting to check out her re-tuned car under actual racing conditions. “The chick is gonna whip your sorry ass,” she hollered. Then she floored it.
At around 95 mph, she was surprised to see the Mustang still alongside. “It’s been souped up,” she figured. With closely matched vehicles, the race would go to the boldest driver. The two cars were approaching a curve, and would be forced to slow down. Beth decided to push her car towards the rival car thus forcing it to slow down first. Unfortunately, Kurt in the Mustang had decided to use the same strategy!
The Mustang slammed headlong into a tree. Beth’s car slid along on its crushed roof. The Firebird was soon wrapped in flames.
A paramedic pulled a blanket over Beth’s unrecognizable face. “She’s gone!” The cop shook his head. “What about the kid?” he asked. “He should survive, but will probably lose that leg”.
The music publishing company saw they had a potential blockbuster with the suicide song. So they slanted the press release and biography accordingly. A tabloid headline read: “Suicidal Rock Star Dies in Fiery Crash.”