Cathy Smith, singer-songwriter’s former girlfriend Gordon Lightfoot who may be best remembered for inspiring the hit”Sunset“hadn’t met them” John Belushic at the Chateau Marmont on March 5, 1982, died August 18 at the age of 73.
Her death was reported by Canada’s The Globe and Mail. The longtime resident of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, had used oxygen in recent years and was in poor health, the paper said.
Smith, who was a backup singer (and occasional drug supplier) to the Canadian rockers who would later become The Band (she claimed “The Weight” was inspired by her), admitted to injecting Belushi with the heroin and cocaine that led to his death at age 33. In a 1986 plea deal, she did not plead involuntary manslaughter and several drug charges and was serving a 15-month prison sentence at the California Institution for Women. After her release, she was deported to her native Canada, where she reportedly took a job in Toronto as a legal secretary.
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Until Belushi’s death, Smith was known in rock music circles for singing backup to Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel, who later formed members of The Band, and in the early 1970s he became Lightfoot’s girlfriend and muse. Lightfoot wrote the #1 1974 hit “Sundown” about his tumultuous, extramarital and sometimes abusive relationship with Smith, the dark lyrics masked by a lilting, bluesy melody: “Sundown you better take care/If I find you been creepin’ ’round my back kick.”
In the late 1970s, Smith was a backup singer for country star Hoyt Axton, and according to wiredBob Woodward’s 1984 biography of Belushi, Drugs Sold to Ron Wood and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Although she had briefly met Belushi when Lightfoot appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1976 she was reacquainted with the comedian through her association with Wood and Richards.
Smith was played by Patti D’Arbanville in director Larry Peerce’s 1989 film adaptation of Woodward’s wiredÂ starring Michael Chiklis as Belushi.
Smith was quickly taunted for her role in Belushi’s death (a sentiment largely avoided by Belushi’s male drug friends, including friends Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, who allegedly snorted cocaine with the comedian on the night of his death. , according to Shawn Levy’s 2019 book The castle at sunset).
But at least one old friend remained faithful. In an interview this week with The Globe and Mail, Lightfoot said: “Cathy was a wonderful lady. Men were attracted to her and she made me jealous. But I have nothing bad to say about her.”
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