With his death ruled an accidental overdose of fentanyl and generic Xanax by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner – the effects of his untimely demise continue on for his friends and family. What supposedly happened and what really happened?
Cause of Death
Hailed by Rolling Stone as a Kurt Cobain who could have been – the young rapper as an artist who reached fans on almost all levels – idolized Cobain, and it was a simple jump to think of Lil Peep in the same shadow.
Fame rushed up at Lil Peep fast – just two years since releasing his first music, he had a Top 40 album, walked at Fashion Week in both Milan and Paris, and ensnared almost 2 million followers on Instagram.
Life on the road is hard on anyone, but for a young man just putting his toes into the industry, the fast life hit him hard. Lil Peep loved booze and drugs – often showcasing both on his social media along with getting tattoos – it hit harder than most.
Inviting two fans, then-16-year-old Nick Dowd and his friend Mariah Bons, onto his bus before a show in Arizona to talk about life – Lil Peep remarked that “Today is a good day. Not every day is a good day, but today is. I feel good.” The three talked video games, clothes, and music – Dowd remarked that Lil Peep even considered taking one of them on as an assistant because their talk was so connected and sincere.
Within 30 minutes, he closed his eyes and they never opened again.
A Mother’s Heartbreak
Over a year later in the cold of December, Lil Peep’s mother Liza Womack sits among the shards of her son’s death – his dog Taz barking at the reporter from Rolling Stone.
Surrounded by stacks of police reports, newspaper clippings, autopsy summaries – alongside homework assignments from the elementary school children she teaches – remarked on the short reprieve she had to grieve her child.
“I had three days off for grief and then went back to work because somebody has to pay the rent,” she said.
She pours over the reports of his cause of death – fentanyl and Xanax – extremely high levels of both substances in Peep’s system, along with cocaine, marijuana and a slew of opiates”, not understanding. “At home, he didn’t do drugs like this,” she laments. “He knew not to do crazy stuff.” Lil Peep also is said to have“tested positive for painkillers and tranquilizers including benzodiazepines and tramadol, as well as cocaine and marijuana”. He “tested negative for alcohol”.
Lil Peep’s mother moved to file a wrongful death suit over her son’s premature death. She firmly believes that those responsible for his welfare and career pushed him to perform past his limits and supplied him with drugs and booze to keep him going.
According to the lawsuit she filed, he was “stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out, exhausted and physically unwell,” and rather than getting him help, the suit states those who were meant to look after him pushed him “onto stage after stage in city after city, plying and propping” him up with drugs, unprescribed controlled substances, and booze as he spiraled farther down into his own personal hole.
The shocking claims were submitted via suit to the Los Angeles County Superior Court by Liza Womack as his mother and the administrator of his estate against First Access Entertainment – the talent agency and label that Lil Peep was signed to singe nineteen years old for a three-year contract deal.
The suit also names Bryant Ortega of Lil Peep’s management team and Belinda Mercer, who was brought on as a tour manager for Lil Peep’s final tour in the fall of 2017.
First Access Entertainment (of course) responded that claims and accusations that any of their employees contributing to Lil Peep’s death were “categorically untrue” – adding that the star’s untimely accidental overdose was a “terrible tragedy” and that they had encouraged him to stop using illegal substances.
“Unfortunately, in spite of our best efforts, he was an adult who made his own decisions and opted to follow a different, more destructive path,” the statement reads. “While First Access is deeply saddened by Lil Peep’s untimely death, we will not hesitate to defend ourselves against this groundless and offensive lawsuit.”
“This is something that I must do as a mother,” Womack said in an interview, standing by her concern as a parent for other young or novice artists who would be vulnerable, “I feel very concerned that they not be exploited,” she said. “What Gus had to live through is actually horrifying to me, and I’m sure he’s not the only person his age in this situation.”
Ultimately Liza’s lawsuit can have a far-reaching impact on the industry as a whole and how it treats drugs – as she is not the first to raise valid concerns over industry bodies using substances to control and manipulate talent. Michael Jackson, Mac Miller, and Prince are all further examples of talent dying under questionable overdose situations.
Lawsuits claiming wrongful death due to hectic and demanding work schedules mixed with drugs and exhaustion are not uncommon in the music industry, however, those cases normally fall out of the spotlight and public eye when some fall-guy from outside the artist’s camp such as a doctor or a fixer is accused of providing the drugs. This case takes aim directly at the handlers and the management who were working with and profiting from Lil Peep’s work; if Liza is able to win this case it may set a precedent in the industry which will force executives to take notice.
The (Netflix) Plot Thickens
A Netflix documentary ‘Everybody’s Everything‘ about Lil Peep has risen some questions about the star’s tragic overdose and has some fans convinced that he was murdered.
The documentary raises questions as to whether or not Lil Peep’s death truly was an accident or not – with his brother Gustav fervently saying that it was in fact an accident, that Lil Peep was happy with where he was in life and as such felt that ruled out a suicide.
After the release of the documentary – fans took to Twitter to express their belief that Lil Peep had been murdered. Authorities investigated Mariah Bons after text message records came to light, revealing that the Xanax Bons may have given Lil Peep was laced with Fentanyl and he did not know it, but there was not enough evidence and she was cleared of any wrongdoing.
An ex of Bon’s came forward stating they were suspicious as she was “shady” and had previously sold them “bad” Xanax which the confirmed “almost killed them”. She denied any wrongdoing in his death and also died at the age of 21 in July of 2019.
Fans of Lil Peep who have watched the documentary are stalwart in their opinion that some shadowy “they” in the music industry had Lil Peep killed due to fear of losing him as an asset.
Which was one of the specific concerns cited in his mother’s lawsuit – that he was not viewed as a person, only as dollar signs.
Hopefully, his death and the subsequent suit can be used as examples to the industry and lead to higher levels of accountability for management and labels to treat their talent as actual human beings instead of products.
Rest in peace, Gus.