Tragic Collection: Better By You Better Than Me b/w Suicide Solution
With this series, I have extracted the songs from the cassettes that were blamed for the suicides of James Vance, Ray Belknap, and John Daniel McCollum. I am using physical copies/surrogates and creating editions much like photographs and prints. This work comes in an edition of 6.
Better by You Better than Me
On 23 December 1985 Vance and Belknap became intoxicated before going to a playground at a Lutheran church in Reno. Belknap placed a 12-gauge shotgun under his own chin and proceeded to fire the weapon, dying instantly. Vance followed, but survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound. He died three years later.
Vance's parents and their legal team, headed by Nevada attorney Ken McKenna, subsequently alleged that a subliminal message of "do it" had been included in the song. They alleged the command in the song triggered the suicide attempt.
John Daniel McCollum, a 19-year-old, committed suicide in Riverside, California on 27 October 1984 allegedly after listening to this song. On 1 November 1985, a lawsuit against Osbourne and CBS Records was filed by the parents. The plaintiffs' attorneys alleged that a line in the song stated, "Why try? Get the gun and shoot!