In 1980, Meat Puppets began a promising career as a punk band formed by two brothers, Curt and Cris Kirkwood, informed by rambling classic rock influences like Neil Young and the Grateful Dead. As the next two decades unfolded, they released one of the most perfect albums ever made, Meat Puppets II, joined Nirvana for its Unplugged appearance to back the band on the Puppets' own songs and even scored a radio-friendly hit with "Backwater." But by the end of the '90s, Puppets bassist Cris Kirkwood was intensely addicted to heroin. His wife died of an overdose in 1998.
In 2003, there was an incident outside the post office in Phoenix, Ariz. Speaking to The Onion A.V. Club in 2007, Kirkwood summarized this as follows: "I went to the post office to mail some crap. This lady got mad at me in the parking lot because I wanted her to back up and she wouldn't. Then she got out and yelled at me so I told her to fuck off. I was real fat, I didn't have any teeth. I was a mess, just an imposing, scary, dope-abuser. She got the security guard in my face. I tried to cool it off, it wasn't happening. I tried to leave, he followed me out saying shit, I told him to fuck off, he pushed me, I belted him, he whacked me with his stick, I took it away from him and hit him with it, pushed him again, turned around and tried to split, and he shot me in the back."
After being hospitalized, Kirkwood spent 21 months in prison. Less than a year after his release, despite significant skepticism from Curt that Cris had changed, he returned to the Puppets for a successful run of albums and tours. He's now ten years clean and sober.