How Many Times Has Al Jourgensen Died?


Al Jourgensen died lg

Al Jourgensen of the industrial metal band Ministry has had plenty of issues with substance abuse, alcohol addiction, and near-death experiences. But how many times has Al Jourgensen died?

Here is what I know:

Al Jourgensen has been declared clinically dead three times from drug overdoses. One of the incidents was truly life-changing, and he claimed to have seen the afterlife. For the other two incidents, however, he didn’t know he was dead.

In addition to these, there are stories that Jourgensen died more than three times, but it’s a little unclear how accurate those stories are.

And after all, Jourgensen himself isn’t always honest in interviews.

But when asked about being pronounced clinically dead multiple times, Jourgensen remembers a journalist who told him that:

“God keeps me around because I amuse him. He keeps giving me cat lives. I am on the third and have six to go. I don’t want to hit nine. I’ll settle at three and leave it at that.”

Lucky for fans, Jourgensen is still alive and kicking.

He has come a long way from drug and alcohol addiction. But did he ever try to get back to his old habits? Is he as sober as he claims?

Let us dig deeper!

What drugs did Al Jourgensen do?

Al Jourgensen has tried heroin, pills, cannabis, acid, ketamine, crack, cocaine, meth, and, of course, nicotine.

Uncle Al (as called by his fans) had a reputation for taking things to extremes-whether it was music or drugs. In over forty years of his career, he has spent more than fifteen smoking, drinking, and injecting or snorting every drug possible.

Name any drug you know, and Al was doing it already. Despite knowing the dangers of drugs, Jourgensen found them hard to resist.

Jourgensen once stated: 

“I certainly did my time with drugs…Taking as many drugs as I did is dangerous, and I realized that if I wanted to end up killing myself, this was probably the way to do it.”

But Jourgensen claims that no matter how bad his drug addiction got, he was able to put out decent records and managed to stay productive. For him, drugs worked like medicine.

It helped his ulcers and helped him sleep. It even worked for his anxiety, making him believe that pot could treat just about any medical problem.

Is Al Jourgensen a Junkie?

Al Jourgensen is no longer a junkie, having given up heroin in 2002 after being a junkie for 18 years. 

He is a different man today. He’s mostly clean, fairly happy, and very productive.

The Cuban musician experienced a successful musical career, unlike anyone. He tasted commercial success and enjoyed being part of one of the best industrial bands in the 80s.

However, drugs were another component of Ministry’s reputation. The frontman endured a series of fatal drug overdoses, a list of degenerate behavior, amputated toe, battle with hepatitis C, and a brown recluse spider bite that almost cost Jourgensen his arm.

His memoir, “Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen”, describes a pivotal moment in Jourgensen’s life when he turned suicidal and even bought a gun from a drug dealer.

But the musician has come a long way since that phase.

Despite his addiction, he has created seminal albums and insists that he is a different man today. He is not the same junkie who was handcuffed and arrested eighteen years ago.

As of 2019, Jourgensen limited his intake to beer, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms. He is almost clean and sober and shows no inclination to stop or slow down his music career.

Does Al Jourgensen still do drugs?

Al Jourgensen claims that “he doesn’t do street drugs” anymore. Instead, he only consumes marijuana (legal where he lives) and psychedelic mushrooms.

With several near-death experiences, Ministry’s lead singer refused to compromise music for drugs and eventually came clean.

Ministry’s brainchild, Al Jourgensen, looked death straight in the face as he wrestled with severe drug abuse for 20 odd years.

At times, his drug abuse got so bad that he would shoot heroin ten times a day.

Jourgensen eventually decided to quit drugs because his addiction made him penniless and distanced him from his family.

Speaking about the process of quitting drugs, Jourgensen said:

“I’d been taking heroin for 20 years, which is long enough, you know. I just realized that the time had come to clean myself up. I’d been in too many scrapes and too many bad situations, and it was time for a change.” 

Jourgensen mentioned quitting drugs was a life-changing decision. But was this transformation from a junkie to a clean man as smooth as changing Ministry’s sound?

How did life come to be after morphing into an industrial band from synth-pop? 

Luckily, I covered that in my recent article, where I have drawn parallels to the situations that compelled Ministry to adopt a new sound for the band.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How many members of the Ministry have died?

Ministry has seen at least 6 band members die, including Mike Scaccia, Bill Reiflin, Jeff Ward, William Tucker, and Paul Raven. However, none of those deaths were drug-related, with Ward and Tucker committing suicide, Raven and Scaccia dying from a heart attack, and Reiflin from cancer.

Ministry remains one of the bands whose lineup changed more frequently than any other 80s band. But in the journey, the band was lucky enough to board some unforgettable names.

Among this treasured list were members like Mike Scaccia, Paul Raven, and Bill Rieflin, who died in the past few years.

Let’s take a look at the 3 most notable deaths from the band’s long list of members:

Mike Scaccia

He had been a longtime guitarist for Ministry.

He worked on popular albums like Psalm 69, Filth Pig, Greatest Fits, House of the Mole, Rio Grande Blood, Cover-Up, Relapse, and From Beer to Eternity.

Scaccia died of a heart attack while performing live at a Rigor Mortis show in Texas.

I have a few friends who knew Scaccia, one of whom was there the night of his death and commented that he “instantly knew something was wrong” when he heard Scaccia play a wrong note (which he apparently never did).

Paul Raven

Best known as the bassist for Killing Joke, Raven also played with Ministry from 2005-2007.

Although the musician had a short-lived career with Ministry, his contribution in 10th and 11th studio albums Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker is unforgettable.

Raven died of a heart attack in his sleep in October of 2007.

Bill Rieflin

Rieflin rose to prominence mainly for his drumming skills for not only Ministry but also Ministry offshoots Lard and the Revolting Cocks.

While in Ministry, Bill played on albums such as The Land of Rape and Honey, Psalm 69, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, and Filth Pig.

However, he was incredibly talented and later went on to replace Bill Berry in R.E.M. and was a current member of King Crimson at the time of his death.

He was also a heck of a nice guy, as I had the opportunity to hang out with him a couple of times in the early 1990s.

Rieflin passed away in 2020 from cancer.

Is Al Jourgensen sober now?

Al Jourgensen is not totally sober as he still drinks beer, smokes marijuana, and uses psychedelic mushrooms. However, he has not used hard drugs or drank liquor in a decade or more.

Al went through a dark period in his life.

He was drinking so heavily that he was on the verge of collapse by the end of his tour. He even stated not wanting to do any more records “because I was throwing up blood and was sick. Being on the road was killing me.” 

His family life was in turmoil leading him to finally divorce his 2nd wife.

However, instead of launching into yet another fit of self-destruction, Jourgensen turned his life around. He is cutting back on drinking, too, going well, and staying somewhat sober (for him).

He also keeps his fans updated by posting pictures of his life on Facebook.

Speaking about which, Al recently celebrated his 100th day away from alcohol and posted a hilarious and informative quick tip section as well.

Hopefully, Jourgensen can keep his new-ish devotion to his health going.

Interview: Ministry’s Al Jourgensen on Moral Hygiene, Vaccines, Biden & Rock Hall of Fame Chances

Conclusion

Al Jourgensen has lived a life filled with musical achievements and commercial success.

In addition, his life is fraught with incidents of death-defying drug abuse, drinking, and health problems leading him to be announced clinically dead three times.

Amazingly, the musician survived and bounced back to life.

To believe rumors, out of these three reported cases, Al also suffered multiple collapses due to drug overdose, for which he had to be hospitalized. But the musician’s will to live was far stronger.

Currently, his will to live and make music keeps him away from most drugs & alcohol. He is showing no signs of stopping and has no plans of dying either.


Photos that require attribution:

Uncle Al by Billy Bootz is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text and graphic overlay added.

Image by Kjrstie from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Hi, I'm Jeff Campbell, a former DJ, music journalist, musician, and music lover. I'm old enough to have seen all the cool bands and young enough to still remember them.

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