UPDATED: Beckett Cypher, Melissa Etheridge’s son with her former partner Julie Cypher, has died of causes related to opioid addiction, the singer said in a statement Wednesday. He was 21.
“Today I joined the hundreds of thousands of families who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction,” she wrote. “My son Beckett, who was just 21, struggled to overcome his addiction and finally succumbed to it today. He will be missed by those who loved him, his family and friends.
“My heart is broken,” she continued. “I am grateful for those who have reached out with condolences and I feel their love and sincere grief. We struggle with what else we could have done to save him, and in the end we know he is out of the pain now.
“I will sing again, soon. It has always healed me,” she concluded, referencing the fact that the news was first announced Wednesday afternoon in the form of a Twitter notification that the day’s “Concert From Home” was cancelled.
While Beckett, whose biological father is singer David Crosby, had a high media profile as an infant and toddler, in recent years he and his siblings were photographed relatively rarely.
Pioneers among celebrity same-sex parents, Etheridge, 58, and filmmaker Cypher had two children together during their partnership: a daughter, Bailey, born in 1997 and Beckett (pictured above with Etheridge in 2011) on Nov. 18 of the following year. The children were born to Cypher via artificial insemination; while the biological father initially was not disclosed, in January of 2000 the couple revealed it to be Crosby.
The young family appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with Crosby and his wife, Jan Dance, later that year (Beckett is the baby pictured in front), and also in a groundbreaking interview with Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes.” In it, they essentially explained to America their family arrangements and how the children might grow up with same-sex parents.
“I do not believe that my children will be wanting in any way because they didn’t have a father in the home every single day,” Etheridge said. “What they have in the home is two loving parents. I think that puts them ahead of the game.”
She and Cypher split up later that year, although they moved into back-to-back houses to facilitate coparenting.
Etheridge revealed in 2016 that she and Cypher had considered their close friend, actor Brad Pitt, to be the biological father of their children, but reconsidered when they saw how much he wanted his own family.
“I saw how badly he wanted children and I thought, ‘I don’t want to share this with someone who really, badly wants children because my children don’t need another parent – they have two,’” she told Australia’s Studio 10. Etheridge performed at Pitt’s wedding to Jennifer Aniston in 2000.
The children often joked about the possibility of having Pitt as their father, Etheridge told Andy Cohen last year. “My children are like, ‘I could have had Brad Pitt as a father!’” she said. “I’m like, ‘No….’ “
In 2017, she admitted smoking marijuana with her adult children. The singer began using it medicinally after being diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2004. She said he had smoked recreationally since her twenties but learned about medicinal marijuana from Crosby, who struggled with substance abuse for many years but largely recovered after spending nine months in prison on drugs and weapons offenses in the mid-1980s.
“It was funny at first, and then they realized it’s very natural [at the] end of the day,” Etheridge told Yahoo. “It brings you closer. I’d much rather have a smoke with my grown kids than a drink.”
Etheridge is also mother to twins, son Miller and daughter Johnnie, from her relationship with Tammy Lynn Michaels. Both are 13.