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Chaka Khan Enters Rehab For Painkiller Addiction, Cites Prince As Wakeup Call

By Paul Gaita 07/11/16

After decades of struggling with drug-related issues, the legendary singer canceled a string of concerts and entered rehab along with her sister. 

Chaka Khan Enters Rehab For Painkiller Addiction, Cites Prince As Wakeup Call

Grammy-winning R&B singer Chaka Khan has entered a drug rehabilitation program to gain control of an addiction to prescription opiates, the same kind of drug that ended the life of her friend and collaborator, Prince. In a statement issued to the Associated Press on July 10, the singer announced that Prince’s overdose death on April 21 convinced her and her sister, Yvonne Stevens, who sang with Parliament and The Undisputed Truth under the stage name Taka Boom, to seek help for their own addiction issues through an intensive rehabilitation and aftercare program.

“The tragic death of Prince has had us both rethinking and reevaluating our lives and priorities,” said Khan in the statement. “We knew it was time to take action to save our lives. My sister and I would like to thank everyone for their support, love and prayers.” 

Khan, who was born Yvette Stevens, has struggled for years with drug-related issues, both in her own life and in those of her friends and family. After gaining initial success with the funk group Rufus in the early ‘70s, she was addicted to cocaine and alcohol throughout the height of her solo fame in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.

After gaining sobriety in the mid 2000s, Khan later attempted to provide help to both Whitney Houston, who scored a huge hit with a cover of Khan’s Grammy-nominated single “I’m Every Woman,” and Amy Winehouse before their untimely overdose deaths, and in 2011, gained permanent custody of her granddaughter after her son, Damien Holland, and his girlfriend proved unable to care for her due to their drug addictions. Her professional relationship with Prince extended back to 1985, when she won a Grammy for a cover of his 1979 single “I Feel for You.” She later recorded for his NPG label and toured with him as a co-headlining act in the late ‘90s.

More recently, Khan and her sister, along with their brother Mark Stevens, who performed with a revived version of the ‘80s soul group Aurra, recorded the single “House of Love” with the production team FOMO. Khan was slated to perform at several venues this month, including the Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock, California on July 13, but has canceled upcoming dates. “Unfortunately, I will miss concert appearances over the summer,” Khan said in her statement. “However, it’s vital that I put my health and well-being first. I know that I am disappointing some of my fans, but I also know they would want me to recover and be well and healthy.” 

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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