Six years in the making, this book is the product of many, many, personal interviews, telephone calls, and e-mails with over fifty of River Phoenix’s close friends, fellow actors, directors, photographers, fellow cult members, drug companions, lovers, and a few members of the Phoenix family. Their recollections give us some profound insights into River’s real life. The book is built from research in: over four hundred newspaper and magazine articles; fifty-four television shows, specials, documentaries, movies, and videos; twenty-two books; and the recordings of more than fifty songs from around the world.
I must also recognize the work of fellow authors who previously wrote about River: Grace Catalano, Brian J. Robb, Penelope Dening, Penny Stempel, John Barker, and John Glatt. Their writing has inspired me, and they were invaluable references in the creation of this book.
The real names of people and places are used in this book. In most cases, people I interviewed have approved what is written about them; a few asked that their identities be changed, and I have complied with their requests. I have also changed some names in order to protect innocent children. This in no way affects the accuracy of the story of River Phoenix’s complex and fascinating life.
I would especially like to thank the following people who gave me information or graciously granted me interviews for this book:
Roy Nance, Judy Knapp, Rob Fuller, and Susan Matheny, Madras, Oregon; Rich Finley, North Carolina.
River’s close friends and family members:
Melanie Barr, Bill Perry, Jim Kesl, and Pam Maneeratana, Gainesville, Florida; Francis Beck and Jim Frank, Orange County, California; John Robbins and Jennifer Evans, Santa Cruz, California; William Richert, Paul Petersen, Nick Richert, Dennis Hayden, Louis “Reeko” Meserole, David and Laraine Gerber, Bret Garwood, Ann Magnusen, Roy Matelin, Louanne Sirota, Nancy Savoca, David Ehrenstein, Wil Wheaton, Udo Kier, Ed Lachman, and John Griffin, Hollywood, California; Gus Van Sant, Portland, Oregon; the Reverend Stephen Wood, Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela, and New York; Kyle Morris and Dan Mathews, New York City; Mark G. Pinske, Mississippi.
Photographer Ron Davis and actor Richie Rich, Nashville, Tennessee.
Captain Ray Riber, Christopher Rogers, M.D., Joe Muto and the Office of the Sheriff, George Bingaman, and Matt Ebert, Los Angeles County, California.
Judy Marvin, Emmanuelle Serrere, James L. Brown, and Jay Quick, Calaveras County, California.
Barbara MacGregor and John Phoenix, Montezuma, Costa Rica.
Author Paul Theroux, Ketura Valencia, Melissa Mayo, attorney Alan Cannon, Ruth Gordon, author Andrea Darvi, Sally Roberts, Kris Hamilton, and singer Ellis Paul.
Nik Powell and Richard Ross, London, England; George Sluizer, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Little Bird, Kate L., and to five certain people who granted interviews in person, on the telephone or by e-mail, or who gathered information, but wanted their names omitted.
This book could not have been written without the help, encouragement, and constant support of my good friends: Vanna Reisman, Maury Hollander, Theodora Norahs, Alana Coburn, Brian Sobel, Cindy, Dr. MaryAnn Joyful, Rodger Hudson, Skye Reding, Gretchen Eichholz, Brian Roberts, Ellen Purdy, Darren L. Langley, and Charly Morris; Lenn Keller, who transcribed interviews from tapes; Marie, Mandarin Media, Bristol, England, for designing my website www.riverphoenix.us ; and, William Richert, who agreed to write the Foreword.
To Ethan Hawke who told me, "Write a good book."
Cyrus Copeland, for using my foreword in his book, Farewell, Godspeed. And, Kats and all the friends at Across The Way, and Rio's Attic website.
Special thanks to Edward Correll and Marge Wilson.
Moreover, thanks go especially to my late father, Bill, who gave me moral and monetary support for the creation of this book.