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Looking for the title/author of a sci-fi short story part of an anthology (probably from the 80s): the story was about a female famous singer with the ability to receive audience feedback into her brain through a machine controlled by another man, who had to make sure the brain feedback didn't go over certain thresholds, in case it overwhelmed and killed her. The man is in love with the singer, but the singer is promiscuous and prefers to not be tied to just one man.

The singer then finds about the love of this man for her, and asks him to purposefully kill her by overloading the feedback thresholds into her brain, knowing he'll do it out of love for her. The man does kill her, getting prosecuted for murder, but he somehow fixes it so that he is judged not guilty. He then goes to a cliff with the ashes of the singer and scatters them, fulfilling her last wish.

The story seemed contemporary (for an 80's setting) except for the futuristic brain feedback machine. It described the concerts and one song sang by the singer, which ended with the line "all of me." The story didn't go into detail about which style of music she performed, but she seemed to be inspired by a real-life singer, like Janis Joplin or Debbie Harry.

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Stone by Edward Bryant. I read it in Rock On, though that's quite a recent anthology and it was first published in 1978.

The singer is Jain Snow and the techie is Robert Dennis Clary.

I’m on the concert tour and work their stim board, me and my console over there on the side of the stage. It isn’t that much different in principle from playing one of the instruments in the backup band, though it’s a hell of a lot more complex than even Nagami’s synthesizer. It all sounds simple enough: my console is the critical link between performer and audience. Just one glorified feedback transceiver: pick up the empathic load from Jain, pipe it into the audience, they react and add their own load, and I feed it all back to the star.

Robert deliberately overloads the feedback to Jain as you describe and the result is:

I cannot rationalize electronically what happens. I cannot imagine the affection and hate and lust and fear cascading into her and pouring back out. But I see the antenna mesh around her naked body glowing suddenly whiter until it flares in an actinic flash and I shut my eyes. When I open them again, Jain is a blackened husk tottering toward the front of the stage. Her body falls over the edge into the first rows of spectators.

The story ends:

The package comes later, along with a stiff legal letter from a firm of attorneys. The substance of the message is this: “Jain Snow wished you to have possession of this. She informed you prior to her demise of her desires; please carry them out accordingly.” The package contains a chrome cylinder with a screw cap. The cylinder contains ashes; ashes and a few bone fragments. I check. Jain’s ashes, unclaimed by father, friends, or employer.

I drive West, away from the soiled towers of the strip-city. I drive beyond the coal strip pits and into the mountains until the paved highway becomes narrow asphalt and then rutted earth and then only a trace, and the car can go no further. With the metal cylinder in one hand I flee on foot until I no longer hear sounds of city or human beings.

At last the trees end and I climb over bare mountain grades. I rest briefly when the pain in my lungs is too sharp. to ignore. At last I reach the summit.

I scatter Jain’s ashes on the wind.

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  • That's the one!!! Many thanks!! – Sonny Z. Oct 6 '20 at 18:00

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