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21 Artists Who Went Downhill After Fame

Doja cat's net worth Doja Cat performs "Mooo!" at Soundset 2019 in Minneapolis

Last updated on March 7th, 2024 at 11:13 pm

People often overlook the downside that comes along with fame. The constant scrutiny from the media and the public, along with the pressure it brings, can cast a harsh spotlight. Even the most virtuous souls can be influenced negatively, leading to tarnished reputations.

Whether it’s due to issues like drug abuse, sexual harassment cases, or career missteps, let’s take a look at artists who went downhill after fame.

21 Artists Who Went Downhill After Fame

1. Whitney Houston

how did whitney houston die clive davis and whitney houston. Artists Who Went Downhill After Fame
LOS ANGELES – FEB 10: Clive Davis, Whitney Houston arrives at the Clive Davis Annual Pre-Grammy Party at Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 10, 2007 in Beverly Hills, CA. Image from Shutterstock.

Renowned as one of the greatest singers of all time, Whitney Houston wasn’t ready for the terrible things fame could bring, making her the first on our list of artists who went downhill after fame. During her peak, Whitney Housten battled drug and alcohol abuse, ultimately losing her voice as a result.  

She was surrounded by the wrong people and, unfortunately, she succumbed to the tragic fate of a drug overdose on February 9, 2012. 

Related: How Did Whitney Houston Die?

2. Janis Joplin

artists who went downhill after fame
Image from Shutterstock.

Next on our list of artists who went downhill after fame list is Janis Joplin, who also met a terrible fate. She’s widely recognized as one of the most successful and popular rock performers of her era. 

Unfortunately, heroin addiction led her down the wrong path and ultimately to her death. Her cheap thrills ultimately got the best of her, tragically ending her life and blossoming career. 

Related: What is the 27 Club?

3. Judy Garland

judy garland in a sparkly sheer top leaning sideways
A publicity still of Judy Garland from MGM used in conjunction with promotion of The Harvey Girls (1946). Image is in the Public Domain.

Yet another celebrity who faced the dark side of fame was Judy Garland. In the early days of Hollywood, many singers and actresses turned to drugs as a means of coping with lengthy shoots, the pressures of fame, and the demands to maintain a slim figure.

Unfortunately, Judy Garland was a victim of this, developing a severe form of dependence on drugs. Her enduring struggle with substance use ultimately resulted in her accidental death from a barbiturate overdose in 1969 at the age of 47.

Related: 28 Celebrities Who Overdosed

4. Tory Lanez

tory lanez's net worth
The second WayHome Music and Arts Festival took place on Friday, August 22rd to Sunday, August 24th at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ontario. It was a jam packed weekend filled with performances by artists such as Major Lazer, Vince Staples, FKA Twigs, and many other talented musicians. Check out the gallery of photos from the festival below. Image by TheComeUpShow on Wikimedia Commons.

Next on our list of artists who went downhill after fame is Tory Lanez. The Canadian rapper and R&B singer was at the height of his career until he assaulted Megan Thee Stallion and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Tory Lanez was convicted in December of 2022 on all three felony firearm counts related to the 2020 shooting, marking the end of his career.

5. Chris Brown

chris brown wearing a shirt from his black pyramid clothing line
Image from Shutterstock

Chris Brown also lands on our list of artists who went downhill after fame. Though he’s been accused numerous times of sexual assaults and harassment, it’s a wonder why Chris Brown still isn’t in jail. Regardless, a lot of people have canceled the artist and cringe when they hear his name.  

6. Amy Winehouse

amy winehouse on the red carpet in a black dress
Image from Shutterstock.

The legendary singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse also succumbed to the terrible pressure that fame brings. The world watched as the singer lost control of her life, and despite several attempts to go to rehab, Winehouse ultimately succumbed to alcohol abuse. 

Medium observed that due to a lack of attention and structure from her family in the years preceding her fame, her emotional vulnerability left her unprepared for the darker aspects of the spotlight.

Related: 22 Singers Who Died Too Soon

7. Lea Michelle

a female singer on stage singing with her head tilted back
(No licensable photo available) Image from Shutterstock

Glee star Lea Michelle was landing hit show after hit show before her controversy blew everything off, making her a part of our list of artists who went downhill after fame. During the Black Lives Matter movement, several of her co-workers claimed that they were bullied and personally victimized by the star. 

Since then, Michelle received immense backlash and had a hard time getting her reputation back.

8. Iggy Azalea

iggy azalea performing on stage
Image from Shutterstock.

It was an understatement that Iggy Azalea took the early 2010s by storm. But everything went downhill after one career misstep. Her infamous freestyle in “Sway in the Morning” back in 2015 tarnished her reputation, abruptly stalling her inclining career. 

It also didn’t help that she wrote a character letter in support of Tory Lanez, giving her backlash and perhaps putting the final nail in the coffin of her career. 

9. Britney Spears

britney spears in 2012
Image from Shutterstock.

She went from groundbreaking performances to being one of the 2000s it-girl icons. However, due to her bad reaction to fame and erratic decision-making, Britney Spears became one of the artists who went downhill after fame. 

After becoming the queen of pop, Spears’s career was filled with scandals that tarnished her reputation. 

10. Justin Bieber

artists who went downhill after fame
Image from Shutterstock.

Being a child star in the music industry can be really detrimental as you grow up. Just ask Justin Bieber, who experienced numerous controversies and scandals.

Related: Justin Bieber Interesting Facts

11. Kanye West

kanye west sitting and giving an interview
Image from Shutterstock.

Multi-Grammy winner Kanye West may be the prime example of an artist who went downhill after fame. After achieving immense popularity as an artist and becoming one of the richest rappers of all time, it suddenly became harder and harder to love him as a rapper. 

From his ridiculous outlook to questionable choices, he created controversies that definitely tarnished his legacy in music. 

Related: Kanye West Biography

12. Demi Lovato

demi lovato on stage in a sweat suit
Image from Shutterstock.

Another child star on our list of artists who went downhill is the award-winning pop star Demi Lovato. This is another testament to the perilous shadow that being popular at a young age can cast. 

The recording artist was exposed to drugs at a very young age, and at one point, she found herself on the brink of death in a hospital following a severe overdose. Thankfully, she has sought help and has been treating herself ever since. 

Related: Demi Lovato Facts

13. DMX

dmx on stage rapping in a brown shirt
Image from Shutterstock.

Once hailed as the hip-hop king of the late 90s, DMX experienced a dramatic downfall, losing control of his life. In an era when Eminem, Jay-Z, and DMX stood as the three biggest rappers, he has since faded from mainstream recognition, with his current status known mostly only to hardcore rap enthusiasts.

The rapper suffered from addiction and multiple arrests, obscuring his legacy with numerous scandals. He died in 2021.

Related: 25 Singers with Mental Illness

14. Kurt Cobain

how did kurt cobain die large image of kurt cobain on the cover of a record album
Image from Shutterstock.

Staying away from detrimental influences is crucial for survival in the world of fame. Unfortunately for grunge rock icon Kurt Cobain this proved to be a challenge. 

After being introduced to heroin, the career of the lead vocalist of Nirvana went south. The drugs made his severe depression worse, resulting in him tragically ending his life on April 5, 1994.

Related: How Did Kurt Cobain Die?

15. Jimi Hendrix

jimi hendrix albums
Image from Shutterstock.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music,” and he was.

The downfall of the legendary Jimi Hendrix, like many artists on this list, started when the guitarist turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the pressures of rock ‘n’ roll. 

His addiction is what ultimately cost him his life, tragically cutting his blossoming career abruptly. 

Related: 15 Best Jimi Hendrix Songs

16. Robin Thicke

a male singer performing
(No licenseable Images available) Image from Shutterstock.

Robin Thicke may be the textbook definition of one-hit wonder. After amassing fame from his song “Blurred Lines,” the singer quickly met his downfall. 

It began during his performance with Miley Cyrus at the MTV Music Awards, and allegations of misogyny surrounding both his music video and the lyrics of “Blurred Lines” started to emerge.

His fame quickly dwindled, with his albums and recordings cracking up more embarrassing headlines than sales. Yikes!

Related: Miley Cyrus Biography

17. Kodak Black

who is kodak black. image of the rapper arriving for an event in a lime green suit
Image from Shutterstock

Kodak Black became the standard for South Florida’s rap scene, but unfortunately, he couldn’t stay out of trouble, making him one of the artists who went downhill after fame. The rapper suffered from multiple arrests.

Despite being an influential figure in modern rap, his career is riddled with legal issues and questionable decisions.

18. Melanie Martinez

melanie martinez performing on stage ironing in a pink dress
Image from Shutterstock.

Melanie Martinez was on the rise to become one of the biggest names in the music scene until one controversy took it all away. The pop singer faced accusations of sexual assault, which significantly impacted her career and acted as a barrier to its upward trajectory.

19. R Kelly

r.kelly on stage in a blue jacket with a serious expression
R Kelly Performs on stage at the FOX Theater on December 27, 2016 in Atlanta Georgia – USA. Image from Shutterstock.

R. Kelly used to be the king of R&B until his name and reputation were tarnished by multiple cases of sexual assault. 

The disgraced singer was sentenced to a 30-year prison for his conviction for various sex crimes, ending his career for good.

Related: 24 Rappers Who Served Time in Jail

20. Elvis Presley

elvis presley record and record cover
Image from Shutterstock.

At one point, Elvis Presley was perhaps on top of the world. He gained the title of the King of Rock and Roll by creating globally popular music that deeply connected with audiences worldwide. 

Despite his talent, Elvis Presley‘s life was marked by controversial actions and obsessions. His involvement in numerous acts of infidelity, coupled with struggles with addiction to both food and pills, ultimately led to his untimely downfall.

Related: How Did Elvis Die?

21. Doja Cat 

Doja Cat Performing live at Soundset Minneapolis 2019
Doja Cat -Photo by Reid Bauman

Last on our list of artists who went downhill after fame is the certified billboard hitmaker Doja Cat. After achieving huge success with her albums, the pop sensation turned sour, hating on her fans, even mocking them for loving her critically acclaimed albums, claiming it was just cash grabs. 

After this debacle, her new album wasn’t able to perform on par with its predecessor, perhaps marking her decline.

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Written by Angelo Ruelan


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