Dave Navarro's Tragic Real-Life Story

If you just count his tattoos, sculpted beard, and immaculate fashion sense, guitarist Dave Navarro is pretty unique on the surface. Of course, he's no slouch musically, either, as "one of alternative rock's "first true guitar heroes." Navarro's eclectic blend of influences and playing styles helped pave the way for the genre-bending guitarists of the 1990s, and many of us have enjoyed getting our faces rocked off by his work in high-profile bands like Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Now, trailblazing musicians usually have simple, happy lives, right? Their oodles of cash help them live the lives we all dream of — being handsomely compensated for doing the thing they love and then getting to hang out with their truest, closest friends and just relax in whatever way they choose, no expense spared. You know, the quaint life of a rock star! While he has certainly done his share of partying, Dave Navarro's life has been an avalanche of disaster and unfortunate events that would probably have broken other people long before. Here's the tragic story of Dave Navarro.

His mother was murdered

Perhaps the most awful tragedy of Dave Navarro's life came when he was just 15 years old. As NME recounts, Navarro's mother, Constance Colleen Hopkins, was murdered in March 1983 when her ex-boyfriend John Riccardi shot her and another woman in West Los Angeles. The murderer spent almost a decade on the loose and was only captured because of a viewer tip after the case was featured on America's Most Wanted in 1991. Riccardi was initially sentenced to death, but the verdict was later set aside because of issues with the jury selection process. Riccardi was re-sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

What's worse, young Navarro was actually supposed to stay with his mother the night of the murders. In 2004, he told America's Most Wanted that his decision, which he attributed to divine intervention, to stay at his dad's house that night probably saved his life. Less divine, however, is the fact that he still has to fight with the media over the incident. For example, in 2018, Geraldo Rivera's Murder in the Family ran an episode about the case, wrongfully claiming that Navarro had found the body and started using drugs soon afterward.

He almost ended his own life

Dave Navarro is not one to shy away from talking about his mental health struggles, particularly because doing so can help others in the same situation. Although the memories are dark and it certainly can't be easy to talk about, he really does know the subject matter, sadly. Billboard notes the musician has been to the blackest pits of the human mind. In 2018, the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade prompted Navarro to write an Instagram post about his own disturbingly close call with suicide. At one point, things were so bad that he wrote a suicide note, stockpiled pills, and planned out how to distribute his belongings to his family. However, he made one last effort to reach out to his loved ones, which was enough to stay his hand and get professional help. Fortunately, he was able to pull back from that dark place.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The (first) end of Jane's Addiction

Dave Navarro entered the limelight as the guitarist of Jane's Addiction, and to say his entrance was explosive is a criminal understatement. Guitar World calls Jane's Addiction a "stink bomb" that kicked the haughty hair metal bands that ruled the late 1980s airwaves off their pedestals and served as a precursor for grunge with its anti-corporate attitude and raw sound. However, they burned bright and quickly, releasing only two studio albums before self-destructing.

In 1991, the band evaporated in a cloud of personal chemistry (and drug chemistry) issues brought on by their hectic touring schedule. The leading personalities of the group, Navarro and singer Perry Farrell, still can't agree on what ultimately caused the collapse. Farrell feels the breakup was "based on emotional reasons" as everyone kept knocking down his ideas and he felt his creativity was facing a wall. Navarro, on the other hand, thinks the band was ended by Farrell's intense personality combined with the band's copious drug use and the fact that they never even tried to talk about their differences. Of course, their 1991 breakup was far from the final one — there have been multiple reunions over the years, but seeing as they keep breaking up, perhaps their communication skills still leave something to be desired.

Facebook troubles

Jane's Addiction has a history as a fairly unstable band, and even their recent status as a "greatest hits" act that hasn't released new music since 2011 seems to nurture this reputation. After all, what other band would consider firing their superstar guitarist over a Facebook post? According to Alternative Nation, it almost happened to Dave Navarro ... and what's more, it wasn't even his own post. The timeline is a bit blurry, but "sometime in the last decade," Perry Farrell found out that Navarro's trusted guitar technician Dan Cleary had made a Facebook post that angered the singer. Farrell made it clear he wanted to fire Cleary, but Navarro said if Cleary went, he would go as well.

Ultimately, neither Navarro nor his guitar guy got fired, and Cleary eventually mended fences with Farrell to the point that he's affiliated with the singer's new group, Kind Heaven Orchestra, sans Navarro. We may never learn exactly what was the Facebook post that drew Farrell's ire. Let's hope it was a bad meme or something.

Three marriages, three divorces

Living a lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll is not necessarily conducive for long-term marital happiness, and Dave Navarro is no exception. According to Inquisitr, the rocker has been married three times so far, and all of them have ended in disaster. From 1990 to 1993, Navarro was married to Tania Goddard. Three years of marriage is hardly a record number, but he managed to do even worse with his second one: According to MTV News, his 1994 marriage to Rhian Gittins was annulled after only a month.

Navarro's most high-profile marriage was his third one, with actress Carmen Electra, as People tells. In 2004, the two documented their road to the altar in an MTV show called Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave, which unsurprisingly gave the impression that the two were genuinely happy together. It wasn't meant to last, though, and in 2006 their marriage fell prey to that oldest of celebrity couple hindrances: conflicting schedules. An anonymous source close to the former couple said at the time, "The reality of it is that they're better off as best friends."

Not quite a Guns N' Roses member

Dave Navarro has multiple major bands in his resume, but there have been whispers that an even bigger group once courted him for the guitarist spot. In a 2010 interview for the Talking Metal podcast, Navarro addressed confirmed rumors that he once almost joined Guns N' Roses. According to Navarro, this came close to happening when Izzy Stradlin left the band in 1991, and Axl Rose even called Navarro to offer him a place in the band. However, this never came to be. Navarro says there were multiple reasons why he was ultimately never welcomed to the jungle but that his significant heroin addiction at the time was the main culprit.

According to Guns N' Roses Central, the sad story of a man who was living the rock star lifestyle too hard to join arguably the greatest rock band of the time almost had a heartwarming epilogue when Navarro joined forces with Guns N' Roses in the late 1990s to play on a song of theirs. Unfortunately, the song in question was "Oh My God," which the fan site shrugs off as "forgettable."

Drug addiction

For years, Dave Navarro nursed such an impressively awful drug habit that Jane's Addiction might as well have been named Dave's Addiction. According to Detox to Rehab, the guitar player's drugs of choice were heroin and cocaine, and his drug addiction wasn't exactly cured by the lingering trauma, fear, and loss the murder of his mother caused — though Navarro has stated on Instagram that he was well on his way to drug addiction even before this particular tragedy. (And that's certainly saying something, seeing as he was just 15 years old when his mother died.)

Navarro's 2015 documentary Mourning Son pulled no punches about his addiction, and even featured graphic footage of his drug use from his younger days. Fortunately, by the time the documentary came out he was living a much healthier lifestyle. He stopped using both cocaine and heroin in the late 1990s, stopped intravenous use altogether sometime around 2000, and says he's been completely clean and sober since 2012.

​Dealing with John Riccardi

Dave Navarro has understandably had a difficult time dealing with the grief caused him by John Riccardi, the man who killed his mother in 1983, and he has taken some fairly unorthodox measures to handle it. The New York Times reports that in 2013, the guitarist made an unannounced visit to Riccardi at San Quentin State Prison. You might expect some harsh words would be exchanged, but the meeting didn't go that way. Instead of the rage and fury Navarro was expecting to feel, the rock star and the killer merely had what Navarro described as "an awkward exchange."

The meeting was not just an attempt at catharsis on Navarro's part. It was also for a 2015 documentary, called Mourning Son, about the murder and Navarro's healing process. It explored some of his healthier coping mechanisms (dark comedy) and his less healthy ones (truckloads of heroin). Throughout the documentary, Navarro deliberately avoided giving much information about Riccardi because he didn't want to present the murderer as a fascinating character. One of his most powerful realizations from the meeting was that Riccardi was utterly insignificant in the flesh — as Navarro put it, he was just "some old dude dying in jail."

​Chris Cornell's death

The fame game is a difficult one, and sometimes there are casualties. According to NME, one that hit Dave Navarro particularly badly was the death of Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell, who killed himself in 2017 after struggling with depression for years. Cornell and Navarro knew each other, and when they toured together in 2003 they fell into a habit of meeting people in rehab, hanging out with them and helping them toward sobriety.

While interviewing Cornell's Audioslave bandmate Tom Morello in 2018, Navarro opened up about the profound pain he suffered when he heard the news of the singer's death. The guitarist reacted by putting on Soundgarden and weeping inconsolably because he was very familiar with the kind of depression Cornell had been fighting with: "To still have that hole in yourself, and still feel that depression and loneliness and isolation, especially on tour, I identified so deeply with that, and I felt so much loss and pain about that. That's the one that hit me the hardest."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Not so red hot

Dave Navarro may be most famous for Jane's Addiction, but as Guitar World notes, it's hardly the most famous band he has played with. From 1993 to 1998, Navarro was the guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and was part of the recording lineup when they released 1995's One Hot Minute. However, it was a difficult time for all involved. Not only did the RHCP faithful have difficulty accepting Navarro as a full-fledged Chili Pepper, the band members seemingly couldn't get out of bed in the morning without hurting themselves in one way or another. MTV News writes that Navarro's tenure in the band was marked by a series of disasters ranging from motorcycle accidents to drug relapses, and his exit was a weird mess of conflicting statements. Everyone involved praised each other and their time together, but Navarro himself said he quit the band, while singer Anthony Kiedis called the lineup shuffle a "completely mutual parting based on creative differences," and Guitar World says the guitarist was fired. The "creative differences" part is pretty much the only thing everyone's narratives seem to agree on ... which, to be fair, can probably be chalked up to creative differences.

​His epic heroin relapse with Perry Farrell

Kicking a heroin habit can be difficult, especially when your job requires you to revisit a past situation that had you at your druggiest. According to Alternative Nation, this was the unfortunate scenario Dave Navarro faced in 1997 when the recently reunited Jane's Addiction started rehearsing. To make things worse, vocalist Perry Farrell had not yet discovered the joys of sobriety, so when Navarro stepped in the room, a relapse he later described as "epic" was all but imminent. Feeling that the music would be infinitely better on heroin, Navarro decided his bottle of mineral water was unable to satisfy his cravings. He and Farrell soon got so high that it evoked an "Oh no, here we go again" reaction from drummer Stephen Perkins.

Navarro describes the tour that followed as one of the most over-the-top, drug-fueled things he has ever done, and says he was easily the worst junkie of the band, using so openly and blatantly that he later called it dangerous and disgusting, even if he did have a pretty good time. However, one guy who enjoyed himself significantly less was Red Hot Chili Pepper Flea, who took care of bass duties for the tour and as a former drug addict was not a fan of Navarro's antics.

Death of a friend

In 2015, Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver singer Scott Weiland, 48, died in his sleep. It might initially seem odd that Dave Navarro was the guy who led the inevitable outpouring of tributes for the frontman, but as Alternative Nation notes, the two were quite good friends. Weiland, according to Rolling Stone, suffered from his own share of inner demons and substance abuse problems, and in fact he died of an accidental overdose on a tour stop in Minnesota. For the Jane's Addiction guitarist, though, Weiland made a big difference in Navarro's life and mental health outlook by hooking the guitarist up with his current therapist.

Dave Navarro still keeps Weiland close at heart — in 2018, he posted on Instagram with a photo of an unfinished letter Weiland had once started penning to him. It began: "Dave — My only real concern for you and I is that ..." Unfortunately, the text stops abruptly after just those few words, but Navarro will certainly never forget the friendship.