Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Bobby McFerrin, the artist who sang "Don't Worry, Be Happy," killed himself.
Origins: The 1988 feel-good anthem "Don't Worry, Be Happy" transformed a talented artist into a household name, garnering Grammy honors as song of the year and record of the year, and winning the "best pop vocal, male" award for Bobby McFerrin. It also served to spawn a long-lived rumor: As early as 1992, whispers were afoot that the man who had composed and sung this bouncy little ditty had failed to heed his own advice and had killed himself instead.
Usually those rumors were non-specific, baldly imparted as "He committed suicide," but sometimes the additional detail that he'd shot himself would be provided. The tale was justly ironic and thus much beloved: the man who'd crooned "In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double" ultimately couldn't stomach what he'd been spooning out to others. Those who'd heard the tune too often during difficult spans in their own lives found a measure of comfort in this, because as anyone who suffers from clinical depression can tell you, getting over it requires far more than the mere adoption of a Pollyanna attitude.
Yet the tale wasn't true. Although he has descended from the musical heights he reached in 1988, Bobby McFerrin is still very much with us
However, the false "Bobby McFerrin suicide" rumor does indeed have a real-life counterpart. On
Barbara "swan song" Mikkelson
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