Eighty-nine’s a hefty number of online condolences by readers of The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret Morning News obituaries. On Sept. 25, the death notice for a soulful-looking, fauxhawked 24-year-old Scott Richard Reid generated 79 e-mail responses. And, nearly three weeks later, the posts are still rolling in.
Those who knew him—and there were millions—aren’t surprised at the outpouring of emotion. This was “Scott! ... from MySpace! ... right?”—the identity Scott used to communicate on the wildly popular Website. Part show business entrepreneur, part fashionista, part Salt Lake City-area club-hopper and doting uncle to a niece and nephew, he died in his sleep Sept. 21 at his dad’s home in Bountiful. Scott’s death was unattended and a toxicology report is pending. But his father, Rick Reid, says an initial investigation points to a heroin overdose.
“Scotty was an adventurous, fun-loving kid his whole life,” says Rick Reid. “The kids in the neighborhood always gravitated to our house. When he got older, Scotty prided himself in ignoring all those boundaries kids put up to keep other people at a distance. He was friends with the emos, the cowboys, the straight-edgers. Everyone. He didn’t let those supposed differences stop him.”
Rick e-mailed City Weekly a few days after Scott’s funeral at the family’s LDS ward in Bountiful. “My son Scotty died Sept. 21, but the story should be how he lived,” Reid wrote. “He has over 9 million friends on MySpace. … He promoted concerts. He helped book DJs. Most clubs in Salt Lake knew him. … Salt Lake has lost a local celeb in the Internet age.”
It isn’t that the Reid family and others who knew Scott are overlooking his sad demise. They are not in denial. They know he had been battling an addiction to painkillers, which eventually led him to heroin. He had been through Lakeview Hospital’s rehab program and had recently moved home to steer clear of drug temptations with friends in his apartment, Rick Reid says.
Mara Marion, director of events at the Hotel Bar & Night Club in Salt Lake City, says “Scott had a spirit that everyone loved. We miss him so much. But it’s not uncommon to hear of someone dying of an overdose in this industry, unfortunately. When I say that, people have accused me of being insensitive. It’s just a very sad fact.”
What Rick Reid and family members say amazed them after Scott’s passing was the number of people he affected all across the country. Word of his death traveled quickly around town and into online communities where music and fashion fans flourish. The stylists at Salt Lake City’s Jagged Edge knew Scott as the kid who would change hair color like most people change shoes. He favored a fauxhawk, and then his mood would change. Then he might get a checkerboard cut into his scalp.
He liked body jewelry and makeup that accentuated his clear blue eyes. He liked gender-bending in general. He had no tattoos, though, and enjoyed having that distinction among his other liberally body-painted friends, Rick Reid says.
Scott’s millions of online friends took his sudden death extremely hard—testament, perhaps to the deep associations that can form in electronic communities. Adults are often mystified by those connections, but they build and grow, nonetheless.
A friend from Saint Augustine, Fla., wrote this online condolence: “Why did you have to go so soon? You desearved [sic] so much more. I believe in you and I know you could’ve made it to Hollywood. … RIP.
And this: “To say that Scott is in a better place makes me wonder how much better a place could it be than here? I can’t even fathom a place better than this for Scott. … I so admired his nonjudgmental personality. Surely there wasn’t a person he met that he didn’t love and everyone has only the fondest memories of how they first met Scotty. This is surely an effect of his family that he talked about and loved so much.”
Indeed, Scott’s MySpace page is devoted to scores of photos of him dancing with friends, striking poses on myriad dance floors around town and mugging and playing with Lilly and Wyatt, his preschool-age niece and nephew. Scott’s reach extended to the Avalon, Kilby Court, Saltair and many others.
More than 400 friends and relatives packed into Scott’s funeral service and at least that many attended a fund-raiser for the family at The Hotel a few days after his death, Rick Reid says. Reid is on partial disability and works part-time at the Taylorsville R.C. Willey store. The Hotel’s Marion says the “celebration of Scott’s life” raised several thousand dollars for funeral expenses and other family needs.
In the end, Rick Reid hopes people who knew his son will remember him as a full human being: plagued by drug abuse, but also full of life and love for others in his path. “Just before he died, Scotty had applied for a full-time job at Fed Ex. He was talking about the girl he loved. He said, ‘This feels different, Dad. I think she might be the one.’”
A pair of black Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses hiding his swollen eyes, Rick Reid pauses. “We all have the best and the worst inside us. Scotty got weak one night and smoked something that killed him. But that will never erase the way this amazing boy lived.”