Death & Mortality: Chris Stein

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What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?

When I had that stupid illness [pemphigus vulgaris] in the eighties. It was debilitating, but I don’t know if I would have died from it. I’m a very optimistic person. I always thought I would come out of it. My relationship with drugs and that stuff definitely exacerbated the illness. I sometimes think I was lucky I didn’t have more money in the nineties, because I probably would have OD’d.

Have you ever seen a ghost?

Yeah, sure. Back in the seventies, when we lived on the Bowery with [ex-Blondie bassist] Gary Valentine. I always thought he was the centre for this poltergeist activity, which often focuses on angst-ridden adolescents. There was knockings on the wall, things falling off shelves. Another time – this is in a Debbie solo period – we were staying in a hotel in the UK built out of an old priory. In the middle of the night, I heard a female voice screaming ‘Get away from me!’ I thought one of the roadies was molesting one of the villager girls. Next morning, the hotel staff said, ‘Oh, you were right near the haunted room’. Some girl had killed herself over the stable boy.

What do you think comes after death?

This is shit I think about frequently. I’ve had various out-of-body experiences. I used to have them pretty consistently, back in the late eighties. I like to think some essence of yourself goes on. I like the idea of reincarnation, the wheel of life, y’know?