The passing of River Phoenix: at the scene
It was Halloween eve on the Sunset Strip, a popular stomping ground for L.A.’s young and restless. But this night, a surprising number of the New Hollywood had gathered for a jam session at the Viper Room. On hand for a party, none were prepared for the sudden loss of one of their own. Here’s how a few of the stunned scenemakers reacted:
Johnny Depp Would-be guitarist, co-owner of the Viper Room, and casual acquaintance of River’s. Jamming on stage when Phoenix collapsed, Depp rushed outside to find paramedics lifting the actor into an ambulance.
Leaf and Rain Phoenix River’s younger brother and sister. Nineteen-year-old Leaf made the frantic call to 911. Sister Rain, 21, was River’s bandmate in Aleka’s Attic. According to the recorded call, she attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She recently said of her brother, ”River and I are about as close as a brother and sister can be.”
Flea (Michael Balzary) Bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A longtime friend of Phoenix, he was performing with Depp and company when River collapsed. He rode in the ambulance that took Phoenix from the club to Cedars- Sinai Medical Center.
Samantha Mathis Phoenix’s close friend, she recently costarred with him in The Thing Called Love. According to a witness, Mathis was one of three people who escorted the actor out of the club, assuring the doorman that he was okay.
Additional reporting by David Bock and Michael Syzmanski