2016 will forever be notorious for the number of celebrity deaths that occured during its 12 months. We are not of the view that there is anything too distinctive about the number of deaths this year, except to opine that this seeming increase in celebrity deaths may be down to a function of age and perhaps drug/alcohol abuse – though that does not quite explain Keith Richards’ remarkable longevity. We want to take this time to look back in rock history and remember the musicians who died much too young – before even turning 30 (the end of youth perhaps).
BUDDY HOLLY (1936 – 1959, 22 years old)
Holly was a rock ’n’ roll pioneer. He died in a plane crash which also took the lives of fellow rock ’n’ rollers Ritchie Valens (17 years old) and JP Richardson aka “The Big Bopper” (28 years old). This incident was memorialised in Don McLean’s “American Pie” (1971) – “the day the music died”.
EDDIE COCHRAN (1938 – 1960, 21 years old)
Cochran was another legend of the rock ’n’ roll era. He died in a car crash.
OTIS REDDING (1941 – 1967, 26 years old)
Redding is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. He died in a plane crash.
BRIAN JONES (1942 – 1969, 27 years old)
Founder of The Rolling Stones, Jones was asked to leave the band he started in June 1969. Jones died less than a month later by drowning in the swimming pool at his home.
JIMI HENDRIX (1942 – 1970, 27 years old)
The legendary singer-guitarist set the late 60s alight with his amazing technical ability and incendiary live performances. The circumstances of his death are somewhat disputed although the accepted view is that he choked on his own vomit whilst high on drugs.
JANIS JOPLIN (1943 – 1970, 27 years old)
Joplin was a highly influential singer with her raw, powerful and uninhibited singing style. She died of a drug overdose.
JIM MORRISON (1943 – 1971, 27 years old)
One of the most iconic and influential frontmen in rock history. Morrison led rock legends The Door in the late 60s. He died from a drug overdose.
GRAM PARSONS (1946 – 1973, 26 years old)
Parsons popularized what he called “Cosmic American Music”, a hybrid of country, rhythm and blues, soul, folk, and rock, which paved the way for the success of country rock. He died of a drug overdose.
MARC BOLAN (1947 – 1977, 29 years old)
Bolan was best known as the lead singer of the glam rock band T. Rex. Bolan was one of the first pioneers of the glam rock movement of the 1970s. He died in a car crash.
IAN CURTIS (1956 – 1980, 23 years old)
Curtis was the lead singer and lyricist of the highly influential post-punk band Joy Division. He committed suicide.
KURT COBAIN (1967 – 1994, 27 years old)
The voice behind 90s alt-rock sensations Nirvana. Cobain committed suicide.
Never forgotten. Rest in peace.
… still there’s more …