Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Killing John Belushi

Dan Aykroyd at John Belushi's Funeral
Cathy Smith's story starts with a blowjob. She was just a sixteen year-old from Hamilton when she met Levon Helm in 1963; he was the drummer for an up-and-coming band soon be known as The Band. It was through him that she got involved in the quickly growing music scene in Toronto, becoming a well-known groupie and occasional back-up singer. Rick Danko, The Band's bassist, called her "the most beautiful girl in Toronto". But he might have been biased; when The Band were up on drug charges, it was young Cathy Smith who gave the cop a blowjob, told him she was fourteen and blackmailed him so he wouldn't show up to court. He didn't; the group got off pretty much scot-free.

There are other stories too. Like, say, the time they were all partying at the Seahorse Motel on Lake Shore. She was in the middle of having sex with Danko when she told him she wasn't on the pill and he lost interest. But just then Helm wandered by, more than willing to pick up where his bassist left off. Six weeks later, Smith discovered she was pregnant. Richard Manuel, the keyboardist, offered to marry her but she turned him down. Instead, she'd end up dating Gordon Lightfoot—a notoriously fucked up relationship. He drank a lot. There were drugs. When he thought one of his opening bands was flirting with her, he had them fired. When he got mad at her, he broke her cheekbone.

It seems like it wasn't until the '70s, though, that Smith really got into heroin and dealing. When Keith Richards and Ron Wood took a break from the Rolling Stones to come to Toronto and form their brief side project, The New Barbarians, she was their hook up. And when they headed back to Los Angeles, she followed. 

Now, in L.A., there's this hotel called the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard, which is absolutely dripping with history. It's where Helmut Newton ran his car into a wall and died, where Led Zeppelin famously drove their motorcycles through the lobby, and where F. Scott Fitzgerald once had a heart attack. It was at the Marmont that a deranged Vivien Leigh covered the walls of her room with photos of her estranged husband, Laurence Olivier, and where Elizabeth Taylor nursed Montgomery Clift back to health after a car accident nearly killed him. It's the same place Jim Morrison fell from his window and almost died while he was trying to swing from a drainpipe, where Howard Hughes used binoculars to spy on girls at the pool from his room in the attic, where Marilyn Manson and Evan Rachel Wood met for the very first time, and where James Dean jumped in through a window to audition with Natalie Wood for Rebel Without A Cause. It's also where Sophia Coppola's new movie is set, where Britney Spears got blacklisted for smearing her dinner all over her face, and where Lindsay Lohan, Graham Parsons, Greta Garbo, Rock Hudson and Rock Hudson's first gay lover all lived at one time or another.

And one night in 1982, the Chateau Marmont is where Cathy Smith and John Belushi were having a party.

They'd met in  New York City years earlier, when The Band were musical guests on Saturday Night Live. And on this particular night, she was his source for speedballs, which is what they call it when you're insane enough to put heroin and coke in the same syringe and then shoot it into your vein. The vibe, it seems, was pretty sketchy that night. Robin Williams stopped by early on and did a few lines of coke, but was creeped out by Smith and left quickly. Later, it was Robert DeNiro who paid a visit, but he didn't stay long either. By the time the night was over, Smith had injected Belushi with speedballs eleven times. She helped him shower and put him to bed. He was breathing funny, but she left. In the morning, it was his personal trainer who found Belushi's discoloured corpse twisted up in the blankets.

At first, his death was ruled an accidental overdose; his own fault. But a couple of months later, from back home in Toronto, Cathy Smith gave an interview to the National Enquirer admitting that she was the one who bought the drugs and injected them into Belushi's arm. She was extradited back to the States, charged with first degree murder and spent more than a year in prison for manslaughter.

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There's another heartbreaking photo of Dan Aykroyd at Belushi's funeral here. Here is what Cathy Smith looked like around the time of her trial. And here's Gordon Lightfoot singing "Sundown", which he wrote about her.

29 comments:

  1. Do you know where Kathy Smith is now - she was my best friend in the early 70's - she was a very beautiful and intelligent women - I know the real story, about what happened to her, Lightfoots deep love for her and its destructive force.

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    1. very convenient

      his ''friends'' robert deniro and robin williams walked away

      so she takes the blame and deniro called her a low life

      turn your back on a friend and call someone else low ?

      pot kettle black

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    2. She shot him up eleven times that day guess she was just caring for him can you say low life

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  2. I'm afraid I don't... there doesn't seem to be much information about what she's been up to recently.

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  3. I read somewhere that when she was on trial for the Belushi incident, Gordon Lightfoot flew down from Toronto to testify on her behalf. He called her "the only woman I ever really loved."

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  4. Howie Thompson , looking to speak to BBC KING I WAS THE YOUNG MAN AT THIRD RAIL COURTLAND NY ,YOU SAID IT WAS ALL IN MY HEART TO BE A PLAYER OF MUSIC CALL ME 214-533-2091

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  5. LOOK IN VANCOVER !

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  6. STILL HAS CONTACTS IN HAMILTON ONTARIO, CANADA
    ( CAT SMITH ) -- CATHY SMITH
    BUT IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ANYTHING INTERESTING,
    THE SUN WENT DOWN A LONG TIME AGO,
    WITH ALL THE PAIN !

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  7. I saw her in the 90's in Vancouver selling dope out of sleazy east hastings st. bars-that was 15yrs ago and she looked rough then!

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    1. She was one of my heroin customers about 10 years ago and Maple Ridge bc

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    2. http://www.upi.com/Archives/1991/01/04/Woman-involved-in-Belushi-death-arrested-again/5922662965200/

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  8. yeah he said 'where is she today' NOT 15 years ago you idiot.

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  9. No idea of Cathy Smiths' whereabouts today but if anyone ever wants to buy her 'ol Gordon Lightfoot tour jacket, I've got it It's a rather diminutive(probably size Small) Black acetate/nylon tour jacket, with "Gordon Lightfoot on Tour" embroidered on the top of the back of the jacket with Bugs Bunny popping out of the Warner Brothers "WB" logo on the lower half of the back of the jacket. Cathy Smiths' name is embroidered on the right. front-side of the jacket. The quality of embroidery, cut and style of the tour jacket itself, almost yells "cocaine budget"! Definitely a double-rare item from that era. ..

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    1. She was living in Baton Rouge LA. a couple of years ago and had a small band that performed around town

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    2. She lives in Maple Ridge BC and is still a junkie

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  10. I would like to find Cathy, she was my room mate in receiving in the 80's at Ca. Inst. For Women. She was pretty cool. I don't blame her for Belushi's death...That was not the first time he shot drugs I am sure he had shot drugs long before that. They just had to blame someone.

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  11. @Lisa - a solution to all of your problems, I'm sure.... And in spite of Lisa's less-than-helpful suggestion; Cathy Smiths' tour jacket is still for sale :o)

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  12. I think she had a mean streak even in public school I seem to remember In grade 7 at Dundas Public School I picked up her books just joking around and she slap me so hard my head almost fell off .This was around 1962 I think.No hard feeling I was a nerd back then.

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  13. As opposed to the badass you've now become Garth?

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  14. This lady strikes me as a sociopath. The interviews she gives are what gets me. There is something really off about that person.

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  15. Dope fiends are who they hang out with ..the liberal Hollywood types are all going to be crying in their drinks when Trump makes his adjustment for our Country!

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  16. Liberal Hollywood types?! This tool has no idea that Hollywood is mostly right wing nerd wannabes like him! He has no idea! Especially about a 60 year NY liberal and how he'll want his social friends back eventually. What does this have to do with Cathy Smith? As much as Trump has in common with middle america! This guy 'anonymous'is a a coward, can't even put his name. Just what I said, a wannabe...

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  17. She got into some legal trouble in Vancouver for drugs and was still in that area when I was acting in the film industry in Vancouver.

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  18. Glad E1 cares.


    Loozzaaa!!!)

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  19. Kathy from FresnoMarch 28, 2017 at 8:30 PM

    I met Cathy in the late '70s thru a friend of hers Suze@ Dan Tana's. She was very nice & normal. My friend Suze & I house sat for her in the Hollywood Hills. Too bad she was used as the scapegoat for this horrific death...

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