Sunday, September 06, 2009

Danny Gans autobiography contains chapter touching on his drug use; coauthor admits book wasn't really completed the day before Gans died

Danny Gans' ghostwriter turned co-author admits today that the musical impressionist's autobiography was not really completed the day before he died. Although the legend began on the day of the Las Vegas superstar's untimely death and has been repeated often in the months since, RG Ryan now admits that he had only finished a "rough draft" of the book-- which is now said to contain a chapter that at least touches on an explanation for Gans' secret use of painkilling drugs.

Ryan's revelation-- and the effort to address the details of Gans' untimely death in a suitable fashion-- could help explain the delay in publishing The Voices In My Head, which was snatched up within days of Gans' shocking passing on May 1st by the owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and promised for a rush-release in June (publication is now set for October).

Ryan, a local writer, poet and musician who is also billed today in Norm Clarke's Review-Journal column as a "former minister," had intimated that the delays were due to negotiations with Gans' family over his writing credit.

Ryan tells Norm that the book will include a chapter called "The Glory and The Pain," detailing Gans' "incredible struggles to overcome pain."

Writes Norm:

"The pain came not just from sports injuries, but two car accidents. One involved being rear-ended by a garbage truck about eight years ago. The other happened about five years ago when his car hit a water puddle and hydroplaned into a light pole.

"On some nights, when his pain was unbearable, Gans signaled his band leader to play a song, 'because Danny would have to run off stage and throw up,' Ryan said."

Norm reports that Ryan and Gans' estate do not go into the details of how managed that pain, or what led to the overdose of hydromorphone (described my Norm as "a powerful opiate also known as Dilaudid, the highly addictive drug... nicknamed 'drugstore heroin.'")

Ryan claims, "It never came up in our conversations (12 to 15 hours of interviews). The only thing he ever said about that to me was that he stuck to ibuprofen, because all that other stuff-- he said he had doctors prescribe heavy-duty stuff-- it dried out his voice."

"When Gans died, 'I was just as shocked as anyone else. Obviously he was taking something stronger than Motrin,' Ryan said."

Ryan tells Norm that Gans was "pushing very hard to get a number of things wrapped up. But I didn't pick up any sign that he had a premonition that he was going to die."

"Ryan described the book as a 'comprehensive, intimate look into the heart and soul of a man who, from the time he was 7 years old, was targeted to the goal of being a professional baseball player.'"

Norm also reports that Ryan "finished a rough draft the day Gans died."

A "rough draft" is usually the first version of a work that requires correcting, rewriting, revising and polishing. In the case of a book, it is far from the final, finished version.

Ryan had told us via email that the entire book "was finished at eleven AM on Thursday. We were supposed to get together at four Friday afternoon, May 1."

The autobiography myth was one of several that were spread in the hours after Gans death. Another, later retracted by Norm, was that Gans switched the final song in what was his final show from his usual medley of African American singing impressions to Bobby Darin's "The Curtain Falls."

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