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The Death of Rock: The Chronology

The Eighties

Artists are listed alphabetically within year of demise. Feel free to scroll, or click the year you wish to view and skip ahead.

Key

Some entries have special notations prior to their names. They represent induction into one of the following Halls of Fame:
* denotes induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
# indicates induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
^ symbolizes induction into the Blues Hall of Fame.

1980

John Bonham

"Bonzo"

*John Bonham
aspiration of vomit after ingesting alcohol. He was 32. Bonham ("Bonzo") was the drummer for Led Zeppelin, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. "Whole Lotta Love," "Stairway to Heaven," "When the Levee Break"

Tommy Caldwell
car accident; he was 30. Bassist for The Marshall Tucker Band. Toy Caldwell's (see 1993) brother. "Can't You See," "Heard It In A Love Song," "Ramblin'"

Darby Crash
(Jan Paul Beahm, a.k.a. Bobby Pyn), heroin overdose the day before John Lennon's murder. Founder of seminal L.A. punk band The Germs; Crash was 22. "Lexicon Devil"

Ian Curtis

Ian Curtis

Ian Curtis
hanged himself. Lyricist and singer for Joy Division; he was 23. Joy Division morphed into New Wave group New Order after Curtis's suicide. Both groups were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "Dead Souls"

*Keith Godchaux
car accident; he was 32. Keyboardist for the Grateful Dead, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Godcheaux was leaving a toll plaza and drove into the back of a flatbed truck. He was the second of four Grateful Dead keyboardists to die prematurely. Godchaux replaced Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (see 1973) and was succeeded by Brent Mydland (see 1990) and Vince Welnick (see 2006). "Truckin'," "St. Stephen," "Casey Jones," "Friend of the Devil"

Tim Hardin
drug overdose. He was 39. "Bird on a Wire."

John Lennon space saver Lennon with Mark David Chapman

John Lennon; Lennon signing a copy of Double Fantasy for Mark David Chapman.

*John Lennon
shot outside the Dakota Apartments in New York City by Mark David Chapman. (Read about Mark David Chapman's 2008 appeal for parole.) Lennon left his apartment building with wife, Yoko Ono, at approximately 5 pm on 8 Decmeber 1980. On his way out he signed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman. The couple returned home less than six hours later, and Chapman, who remained outside the Dakota, fired five hollow point bullets at Lennon's back. Four of the bullets found their mark. John Lennon was 40. He was a member of The Beatles and a controversial solo artist. He was also father to musicians Sean (of Cibo Matto) and Julian. While he was still with The Beatles, Lennon was asked how he expected to die. He lightly answered: "I'll probably be popped off by some loony." (Another macabre fact is found in The Beatles' "Come Together", which contains the words "shoot me" repeated over and over throughout the song. The "me" is obscured by music, but it is there.) Lennon was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice: with The Beatles in 1988 and as a solo artist in 1994. The Beatles were also inducted into both the UK Music Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004. Interesting aside: Chapman's autographed copy of Double Fantasy went up for sale in November 2010. Read about Lennon's connections to the Curse of Buddy Holly and the Curse of Harry Nilsson. With the Beatles: "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Eleanor Rigby," "Yellow Submarine," "A Day in the Life," "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Solo: "Woman," "Imagine," "Instant Karma," "Just Like Starting Over"

*Bobby Lester
lung cancer. He was 50. Lester was an original member of The Moonglows, who had a string of hits in the 1950s. The Moonglows were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. "Sincerely, "See Saw," "Most Of All," "We Go Together," "Please Send Me Someone to Love"

Jacob "Killer" Miller
car crash in Kingston, Jamaica; he was 27. Miller was an original member of the reggae group, Inner Circle. They initially gained popularity by covering US pop hits. In later years, the group had hits with "Bad Boys," the theme to the television show, COPS, and "Sweat (A La La La La Long)." At the time of Miller's death, Inner Circle were preparing for a tour with Bob Marley and the Wailers (see 1981). Side note: Miller was the uncle of British R&B singer, Maxi Priest ("Close to You," "Set the Night to Music" with Roberta Flack).

John Paulos
drug overdose. He was 32. Paulos was the drummer for The Buckinghams on several hits, including "Kind Of A Drag," "Don't You Care," and "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy."

Carl Radle
kidney infection as a result of long-term alcohol and drug abuse. Radle was the bassist for Derek and the Dominos, George Harrison (see 2001), and Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen. He was 37. Radle was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

Bon Scott

Bon Scott

*Bon Scott
(Ronald Belford Scott), aspiration of vomit after excessive alcohol consumption. He was 33. Scott performed lead for AC/DC. The band, including Scott, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. "(You Shook Me) All Night Long," "Back in Black," "Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)"

Georgeanna Tillman
sicklel cell anemia. She was 36. Tillman was a member of the Motown girl-group, The Marvelettes. "Please Mr Postman," "Someday, Someway," "Too Many Fish in the Sea"

Steve Peregrin Took
co-founder of T. Rex, ingested morphine and magic mushrooms. His throat numbed by the combination, he subsequently choked to death on a cherry. He was 31. Took was one of five members of T-Rex to die prematurely: see Marc Bolan, 1977; Steve Currie, 1981; Mickey Finn, 2003; and "Dino" Dines, 2004. "Bang a Gong (Get it On)" "Hot Love," "Telegram Sam," "Metal Guru"

Larry Williams
gunshot wound. He was 54. Williams had been involved in criminal activity since his teens. He was found shot in the head at his home. It was officially deemed a suicide, but much speculation exists that it was actually a homicide resulting from his involvement with drugs and crime. "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," "Bony Maronie," "She Said Yeah"

Nathaniel "Buster" Wilson
murdered and dismembered; he was 35. Wilson was a later member of The Coasters, who scored several hits during the late 1950s. The band was reformed by original Coaster Cornell Gunter (see 1990) as The Fabulous Coasters, and a new manager was brought in, Patrick Cavanaugh. Wilson discovered Cavanugh's questionable business practices and was considering involving law enforcement. Wilson then disappeared. Several weeks later, parts of his body were found near the Hoover Dam and others near a ravine in Modesto, California. Wilson had been shot and his hands and feet severed. Cavanaugh was convicted of the crime; he died in prison in 2006. (The original version of The Coasters were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.) "Yakety Yak," "Poison Ivy," "Charlie Brown"

1981

*Mike Bloomfield
drug overdose; he was 38. Bloomfield was the lead guitarist for The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (Paul Butterfield, see 1987) and founder of The Electric Flag. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #22). The Paul Butterfield Blues Band recorded the album A Long Time Comin' and the soundtrack to the 1967 psychedelic film, "The Trip." They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin
(Harry Forster Chapin), car accident, possibly due to a heart attack suffered while driving; he was 37. On 16 July 1981, Chapin was driving to a free concert at which he was performing, in Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, New York. He was traveling in the left lane on the Long Island Expressway at about 65 miles per hour when he put on the car's hazard lights, dropped to about 15 miles per hour, and veered into the center lane, nearly colliding with another car. He then swerved left, and back to the right, directly in front of a tractor trailer, which slammed into the rear of Chapin's blue 1975 Volkswagen Rabbit, rupturing the fuel tank. The driver of the truck and a passerby pulled Chapin out of the burning car through the window, but he did not survive the ordeal. The official cause of death is "cardiac arrest," but it is unclear whether it was the cause or the result of the auto accident. In 1987, Chapin was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his philanthropic work. (The Congressional Gold Medal, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is the highest civilian award in the United States.) "Cat's in the Cradle," "Taxi"

T.Rex

One version of T.Rex: Bill Legend, Mickey Finn (d. 2003),

singer Marc Bolan (d. 1977), and Steve Currie (d. 1981).

Steve Currie
car accident in Portugal. He was 34. Currie was the bassist for T. Rex. He was one of five band members to die prematurely (see Marc Bolan, 1977; Steve Peregrin Took, 1980; Mickey Finn, 2003; and "Dino" Dines, 2004). "Bang a Gong (Get it On)," "Hot Love," "Telegram Sam," "Metal Guru"

Bill Haley

Bill Haley

*Bill Haley
heart attack; he was 55. Bandleader of Bill Haley and His Comets. Immortalized by their wildly popular, early rock single, "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock." The song held the #1 spot for eight weeks, was used on the soundtracks of the motion pictures "The Blackboard Jungle" (1955) and "American Graffiti" (1974), and was chosen as the theme for the 1970s' television series "Happy Days." Haley was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and he was also inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union announced the naming of asteroid 79896 Billhaley. (In 1954, Comet Danny Cedrone fell down a flight of stairs, breaking his neck. He was 33. Fellow Comet, Marshall Lytle, succumbed to lung cancer in 2013. He ws 79.) Read about the connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly. "Rocket 88," "Crazy, Man, Crazy," "Rudy's Rock"

Canned Heat

Canned Heat, front to back:

Fito de la Parra, Larry Taylor, Bob Hite (standing, d. 1981),

Henry Vestine (d. 1997), Alan Wilson (standing, d. 1970).

Bob "The Bear" Hite
heart attack. He was 36. Hite, vocalist for Canned Heat, weighed nearly 300 pounds at the time of his death. He was one of the band's original members, along with Al "Blind Owl" Wilson (see 1970) and Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (see 1997). Hite's brother, Richard (see 2001), also played with a later incarnation of the group. "Same All Over," "Let's Work Together," "Time Was," "Boogie Music," "On the Road Again," "Going Up the Country"

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

*Bob Marley
(Robert Nesta Marley), cancer. He was 36. First internationally famous reggae star and Rastafarian. Also was a Wailer with Carlton Barrett and Peter Tosh (see 1987 for both), and Junior Braithwaite (see 1999). (All three Wailers were murdered.) In 1978, Marley was awarded the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations and in 1981, he was honored with the Jamaican Order of Merit, Jamaica's third highest honor. Marley was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2001, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. "No Woman, No Cry," "Get Up, Stand Up," "Buffalo Soldier," "One Love/People Get Ready"

Rushton Moreve
(John Russell Morgan), automobile crash; he was 33. Bassist Moreve, with drummer Jerry Edmonton, (see 1993) was a co-founder of Steppenwolf. "Magic Carpet Ride," "Born to Be Wild"

The Duprees

The Duprees, circa 1962: John Salvato, Michael Arnone (d. 2005),

Joey Canzano (d. 1984), Joseph Santollo (d. 1981) and Thomas Bialoglow.

Joseph Santollo
heart attack. He was 37. Santollo was a founding member of the doo wop group, The Duprees. The Duprees were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2006. Original lead singer, Joey Canzano (Joey Vann), died in 1984. "You Belong to Me," "My Own True Love," "Have You Heard?"

Mack Starr
(Julius McMichael), motorcylce accident. Mack was a member of the vocal quartet, The Olympics. Vocalist Charles Fizer was replaced by Melvin King for a year while he was imprisoned for drug possession. Fizer was later shot and killed by the National Guard during the Watts Riots (see 1965). King again stepped in to replace Fizer, but distraught over the death of his sister (who was also killed in the riots), he performed only one show before leaving the group. Mack Starr became Melvin King's replacement. In 1981, Starr was knocked off his motorcycle by an out-of-control automobile and killed. He was 45. The Olympics: "Western Movies" (which reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100), "(Baby) Hully Gully," "Big Boy Pete," "Good Lovin'"

Jud Strunk
plane crash. He was 45. Strunk appeared on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," "Hee-Haw," "Bewitched," and "The Merv Griffin Show." Strunk was killed when he crashed his 1941 PT 19 at the Carrabassett Valley Airport in Maine. "Daisy A Day"

*Sonny Til
(Earlington Carl Tilghman), heart attack. He was 51. Til was the lead singer of The Orioles, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. "Crying In The Chapel," "Tell Me So," "Forgive and Forget," "It's Too Soon To Know"

Chuck Wagon
(Bob Davis), shot himself. He was the original keyboardist for The Dickies, a moderately successful LA punk band formed in the late '70s. He was 24. "I'm OK, You're OK," "Walk Like an Egg," "Pretty Please Me"

1982

Samuel George, Jr.
stabbed. He was 39. George was the lead singer of the Capitols, who had a hit in 1966 with "Cool Jerk." He was stabbed during a family argument.

Addie "Micki" Harris
heart attack after a performance in Atlanta; she was 42. Harris was a member of the vocal girl-group, The Shirelles. "Soldier Boy," "Mama Said," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"

Alex Harvey
two heart attacks. He was 46. Harvey was the leader of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. "Delilah," "Boston Tea Party"

*James Honeyman-Scott
cocaine overdose; he was 25. Honeyman-Scott was the guitarist for the Pretenders, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. (Bassist Pete Farndon died of a heroin overdose in 1983. He was 30.) "Brass in Pocket," "Talk of the Town," "Message of Love." The Pretenders minus Honeyman-Scott: "Back on the Chain Gang," "I'll Stand By You"

Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads
(Randall William Rhoads), airplane crash. Andrew Aycock, the band's tourbus driver, took Rhoads and Rachel Youngblood up in a 1955 Beechcraft Bonanza F-35 for kicks, buzzing the band's tour bus. The plane's wing clipped the vehicle and crashed into a nearby house. All three were killed; Rhoads was 25. He founded Quiet Riot with Kevin DuBrow (see 2007) and later gained celebrity as Ozzy Osbourne's lead guitarist. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #85). "Crazy Train," "Revelation (Mother Earth)," "Suicide Solution"

#Marty Robbins
(Martin David Robinson), heart attack. He was 57. Robbins was a popular singer/songwriter who recorded various styles of music, from country-western to Hawaiian to gospel to pop. Robbins was inducted into the Country Hall of Fame in 1982. "A White Sports Coat (and a Pink Carnation)," "El Paso," "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife," "You Gave Me a Mountain"

Joe Tex
(Joseph Arrington Jr.), heart attack. He was 49. "I Gotcha," "Skinny Legs and All," "Hold On To What You've Got," "The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)"

Tommy Tucker
(Robert Higginbotham); he was 48. Tucker died from inhaling carbon tetrachloride while refinishing his home's hardwood floors; some sources attribute his death to food poisoning. Tucker was most famous for 1964's "High Heeled Sneakers." ("Long Tall Shorty" was the follow-up.)

1983

Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter
anorexia. Drummer and singer for The Carpenters. When she died ate the age of 33, she was 5'4" and 108 lbs. (In 1975 she weighed a mere 80 pounds, 35 pounds underweight.) "We've Only Just Begun," "Close to You"

Badfinger

Badfinger: Mike Gibbins (d. 2005),

Pete Ham (d. 1975), Tom Evans (d. 1983), & Joey Molland

Tom Evans
hanging (suicide). Member of Badfinger; he was 36. Evans' bandmate, Pete Ham (see 1975), had died in the same manner. Drummer Mike Gibbins would succumb to natural causes in 2005. Harry Nilsson's (see 1994) cover of Badfinger's "Without You" reached #1. (Read about Badfinger's connection to the Curse of Harry Nilsson.) "Day After Day," "If You Want It (Come and Get It)"

*Pete Farndon
heroin overdose; he was 30. Farndon was the bassist for the Pretenders, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. (Guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died of a cocaine overdose in 1982. He was 25.) "Brass in Pocket," "Talk of the Town," "Message of Love." The Pretenders minus Farndon: "Back on the Chain Gang," "I'll Stand By You"

Billy Fury

Gene Vincent (d. 1971), Joe Brown, Billy Fury (d. 1983), and Eddie Cochran (d. 1960).

Billy Fury
(Ronald Wycherley), heart attack. Fury survived rheumatic fever as a child, but it left him with a weakened heart, which eventually gave out when he was 42. He enjoyed massive success in Great Britain during the 1960s. "Halfway To Paradise," "Last Night Was Made For Love," "It's Only Make Believe"

Klaus Nomi

Klaus Nomi

Klaus Nomi
(Klaus Sperber), AIDS; he was 39. Nomi was an eclectic performance artist, who often combined opera, disco and rock. His theatrical presentations involved stage effects, flamboyant costumes and outrageous make-up. Prior to his career as a performer, Nomi supported himself as a pastry chef, supposedly working at the World Trade Center. Albums include: Klaus Nomi, Simple Man, and Encore.

Felix Pappalardi
shot and killed by his wife, Gail Collins, when they argued over his long-standing affair with a younger woman. (Collins was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to four years in prison.) Pappalardi had done production work for Cream and was a producer and member of Mountain. He was 43. "Mississippi Queen"

Danny Rapp
suicide. He was the Danny in Danny and The Juniors, who scored two hits in 1957: "At The Hop" and "Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay." Rapp died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 41.

Walter Scott
(Walter Nothesis), murdered; he was 40. Lead singer of Bob Kuban & the In-Men, who scored a 1966 hit with "The Cheater". Scott was reported missing shortly after Christmas, 1983. It wasn't until 1987 that his body was found, floating in a cistern with a gunshot wound to the back. A neighbour named Jim Williams, who had starting dating Scott's wife, Joanne, shortly after his disappearance, was found guilty of murder. Joanne Scott was sentenced to five years for hindering the investigation.

*Lamar Williams
cancer linked to exposure to Agent Orange during Vietnam; he was 36. Williams replaced Berry Oakley (see 1972) and was replaced by Allen Woody (see 2000) on bass in the Allman Brothers Band, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. "Ramblin' Man," "Midnight Rider," "Melissa"

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys. From top: Brain Wilson, Dennis Wilson (d. 1983),

Al Jardine, Mike Love, and Carl Wilson (d. 1998).

*Dennis Wilson
drowned; he was 39. Dennis was brother to Carl (see 1998) and Brian, all Beach Boys, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. "Surfin' USA," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows"

*Chris Wood
liver failure; he was 39. Member of the band, Traffic, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. "Feelin' Alright," "Paper Moon," "Dear Mr. Fantasy," "Glad," "Every Mother's Son"

1984

The Duprees

The Duprees, circa 1962: John Salvato, Michael Arnone (d. 2005),

Joey Canzano (d. 1984), Joseph Santollo (d. 1981) and Thomas Bialoglow.

Joey Canzano
(Joey Vann), heart attack. He was 40. Canzano was the original lead singer of the doo wop group, The Duprees. The Duprees were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2006. (Fellow member, Joseph Santollo, died in 1981.) "You Belong to Me," "My Own True Love," "Have You Heard?"

Razzle Dingley

Razzle Dingley

Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley
automobile accident; he was 24. Drummer for Eighties band Hanoi Rocks. Dingley accompanied a drunk Vince Neil (singer for Motley Crue) on a beer run; Neil crashed his car and Razzle was killed. (Neil served 30 days in jail for vehicular manslaughter.) "Up Around the Bend," "Underwater World," "I Can't Get It"

Ral Donner
(Ralph Stuart Donner), lung cancer at the age of 41. Donner built his singing career around his uncanny ability to mimic Elvis' vocal style. He narrated the 1981 film "This Is Elvis." "You Don't Know What You've Got (Until You Lose It)," "Girl of My Best Friend," "She's Everything (I Wanted You to Be)"

Marvin Gaye space saver Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye

*Marvin Gaye
(Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr.), shot by his father. Gaye was one of Motown's most successful artists, and his career spanned three deacades. His early singing partner, Tammi Terrell, collapsed in his arms at a concert. Three years later (1970) she died from a malignant brain tumor. Gaye and his father had a volatile and reportedly abusive relationship. After an allegedly physical argument, Gaye, Sr. entered his son's room with a pistol and shot him. The first 38-caliber slug had entered his right chest at a 30 degree downward angle, perforating the right lung, heart, diaphragm, liver, stomach, and left kidney before coming to rest against his left flank. Gaye, Sr. then fired again, at point-blank range. He went downstairs to the front porch, threw the pistol out onto the lawn and sat down to await police. He was eventually sentenced to five years probation. When asked if he loved his son, the elder Gaye replied, "Let's just say I didn't dislike him." Marvin Gaye, Jr. was 45 at the time of his death. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. "What's Goin' On," "Ain't No Mountain (High Enough)," "Let's Get It On," "Sexual Healing" (Thanks to findadeath.com for the details.)

Steve Goodman
leukemia; he was 36. Goodman was a popular songwriter who made Chicago the folk capitol of the 1970s. "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request," "Go Cubs Go" (The Chicago Cubs theme song), "City of New Orleans" (hits for both Arlo Gutherie and Willie Nelson), "You Never Even Call Me By Name" (a country hit for David Allan Coe), "Banana Republics," "Frank and Lola," "This Hotel Room" (all hits for Jimmy Buffet)

*Nate Nelson
heart attack. Nelson, a member of the doo-wop singing group, The Flamingos, died on his 52nd birthday. The Flamingos were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000. "I Only Have Eyes for You," "Golden Teardrops," "I'll Be Home"

Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson

*Jackie Wilson
age 50 at the time of his death. Wilson suffered a heart attack in 1975 while performing "Lonely Teardrops," struck his head falling and lapsed into a four-month coma. When he emerged, it was discovered he had suffered brain damage from oxygen depravation. He remained hospitalized, immobile and incapable of speech until his death 9 years later, in 1984. "Mr. Entertainment" was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. "Lonely Teardrops," "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher"

Philippe Wynne
heart attack. He was 43. Wynne was the former lead singer of the Spinners. He suffered a fatal heart attack while on stage in California in 1984. "I'll Be Around," "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love?" "Then Came You" (with Dionne Warwick)

1985

D. Boon
(Dennes Dale Boon), van accident. Boon was the guitarist for the Minutemen. On a trip to Arizona, Boon's girlfriend fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed their van. Boon was ejected form the vehicle and broke his neck, killing him instantly. He was 27. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #89). Album: Double Nickels on the Dime

David Byron
excessive alcohol consumption. Byron was the lead singer of 70's rock band Uriah Heep, until he was dismissed from the band because of his drinking problem. He was found dead in his home; he had suffered a heart attack brought on by severe alcoholism. Byron was 38. (Heep bassist, Gary Thain, died from a heroin overdose in 1975.) "Easy Livin'," "Sweet Lorraine," "Stealin'"

The Cowsills

The Cowsills: Bob, Barry (d. 2005), Susan, William (d. 2006), Barbara (d. 1985), and John

Barbara Cowsill
emphysema. She was the vocalist and matriarch of the '60s family group, The Cowsills, who were the inspiration for television's "The Partridge Family." (Sons and fellow band members Barry (see 2005) and William (see 2006) would die within a year of one another.) Barbara was 54 at the time of her death. "Hair," "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things," "Indian Lake"

Brian Keenan
heart attack at age 41. Keenan was a member of Manfred Mann; later, he was drummer for the Chambers Brothers. Manfred Mann: "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)". The Chambers Brothers: "Time Has Come Today," "New Generation," "People Get Ready".

Rick Nelson

Rick Nelson

*Rick Nelson
(Eric Hilliard Nelson), plane crash; he was 45. Son of TV's "Ozzie and Harriet" and father of Matthew and Gunnar (of the early Nineties band, Nelson). Nelson's plane, which was previously owned by fellow rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, made an emergency landing after the pilot detected smoke in the cockpit. All survived the landing, but the craft then burst into flames, killing Nelson, his fiancee, and his band (the pilot and co-pilot survived). The cause was cited as faulty heater wiring. Read the National Transportation Safety Board Report, with photos of the crash site/wreckage. Also read about Nelson's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly. Nelson was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. "Travelin' Man," "Hello Mary Lou"

Bill Pickering
aneurysm; age 58. Pickering was a DJ - the first to play Buddy Holly's solo effort, "Blue Days, Black Nights" - and later, a back-up singer for Holly. The Pickering Brothers ("The Picks"), were overdubbed on several Holly classics, including "Oh, Boy!" and "Maybe Baby," but were never credited for their contributions. In 1959, when Holly died, Pickering sang at his funeral. The group disbanded, but reunited in 1969. Unfortunately, the group was sidelined in 1974; Pickering suffered his first stroke, rendering him blind for nearly two years. He recorded once more, ten years later, again overdubbing on Holly tracks. He was motivated by Maria Elena Santiago, Holly's widow, when she related how Holly had wanted to work with The Picks again. The overdubs were Pickering's last foray into music. He died in 1985, in Holly's hometown of Lubbock, Texas. The Picks were inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the New Mexico Music Hall of Fame, and received the West Texas Music Hall of Fame Music Pioneer Award. Read about Pickering's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly.

Kyu Sakamoto

Kyu Sakamoto

Kyu Sakamoto
(Hisashi Oshima), plane crash. He was 43. Sakamoto was the first Japanese artist to have a number one hit in the United States with "Sukiyaki" (1963). He was ranked number 18 in a list of Japan's top 100 influential musicians by HMV. Sakamoto was killed when JAL Flight 123 lost pieces of its tail sections, spiraled downward for 30 minutes, and crashed on a thickly wooded mountain about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo. Five hundred and twenty people were killed and four were injured in the worst single airplane disaster in aviation history. You can read a detailed account of the crash with photos of the aircraft - during breakup - and Sakamoto's final resting place.

The Singing Nun

"The Singing Nun"

"The Singing Nun"
(Jeanne Deckers), committed suicide. The Singing Nun's "Dominique" went to number one in the U.S. in 1963 and sold over 1.5 million copies, winning a Grammy. She and a friend, Annie Pescher, later founded a center for autistic children in Belgium. In the 1980s, the Belgian government claimed that she owed back taxes of more than $47,000 from her time as a recording artist; she claimed that the money was given to the convent and therefore exempt from taxes. This demand put the children's center in financial jeopardy, and in 1985 both she and Pescher took their lives with a combination of pills and alcohol. At the time of her death, The Singing Nun was 52 years old.

Ian Stewart
stroke. Stewart was the original keyboardist for the Rolling Stones who was relegated to a behind-the-scenes position as roadie becuase he lacked the look of a rock star. He stayed with the band (and out of sight) for over twenty years, and he played on several Stones' hits, including "It's All Over Now," "Star Star," and "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll." In 1979, he formed the band Rocket 88. Stewart died of a stroke while sitting in his doctor's waiting room. He was 47.

Merle Watson

Merle Watson

Merle Watson
(Eddy Merle Watson), tractor accident. Watson was a folk/blues/gospel/country/bluegrass musician who collaborated with his legendary and award-winning father, Doc Watson. (Merle shared two Grammy Awards with his father.) One night, unable to sleep, Merle went to the basement to trim some paneling for his basement walls. The saw blade hit a fault in the grain and a large piece of wood splintered off, embedding itself in his upper arm. He grabbed the key to his farm tractor, and left to seek help. He proceeded to a house at the summit of a steep hill, where the owners of the house were able to aid him in removing the splinter. Bandaged, but weak from the loss of blood, he left to return home. On the way back down the steep hill, the tractor brakes locked, and it pitched over a high embankment. Watson was thrown off the tractor which landed on him, killing him instantly. He was 36. MerleFest, an "Americana Music Celebration" named after Watson, is one of the most popular acoustic music festivals in the world. It was hosted annually by Doc Watson in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Doc Watson died after colon surgery in 2012 at the age of 89.) "Cotton Row," "Freight Train Boogie," "Interstate Rag," "Guitar Polka" (Thanks to Fuller Up, Dead Musicians Directory for the information.)

Ricky Wilson
complications from AIDS. He was 32. Wilson was a member of the quirky, new wave/punk/pop B-52's. "Rock Lobster" Post-Wilson: "Roam," "Love Shack," "Deadbeat Club"

1986

Cliff Burton

Cliff Burton

*Cliff Burton
tour bus accident in Sweden; he was 25. Burton was the bassist for Metallica. He "won" his particular bunk for that night. When their tourbus skidded off the road Burton was thrown out the window. The bus then flipped over and landed on him. Burton was inducted with Metallica into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. "One," "Fade to Black," "Enter Sandman"

Mark Dinning
heart attack at the age of 52. Dinning's "death disc," "Teen Angel," went to #1 in 1960, despite being banned by numerous radio stations.

Phil Lynott

Phil Lynott

Phil Lynott
substance abuse. Lynott was abusing alcohol and drugs; he was rushed to the hosptal with both liver and kidney infections. He died several days later from heart failure and pneumonia. He was 36. Lynott was the singer for Irish rock band, Thin Lizzy. A life-size bronze statue of Lynott was dedicated in Dublin in 2005. (Guitarist Gary Moore would be found dead in a hotel room in 2011.) "The Boys Are Back in Town," "Whiskey in the Jar"

*Richard Manuel
hanging (suicide). He was 42. Manuel was the keyboardist and vocalist for The Band (with bassist Rick Danko, see 1999), who began their career as Bob Dylan's back-up band. The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. "Up On Cripple Creek," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "This Wheel's On Fire"

1987

Carlton "Carly" Barrett
shot; he was 36. Barrett was a member of Bob Marley and the Wailers (for Marley, see 1981). As he arrived home and walked across his yard, a gunman approached behind him and shot him twice in the head. His wife, Albertine, her lover, Glenroy Carter, and another man, Junior Neil, were arrested and charged with his killing. Albertine and Carter were convicted and sentenced to seven years for conspiracy. After one year in prison, they were released on a legal technicality. Barrett was one of three Wailers to be murderded. (Peter Tosh and Junior Braithwaite were also gunned down; Tosh in 1987 and Braithwaite in 1999.) "My Cup (Runneth Over)," "Duppy Conqueror," "Soul Rebel," "Small Axe"

*Paul Butterfield
heroin overdose. He was 44. Butterfield lead The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. Some albums: East-West, The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, In My Own Dream and Keep On Moving

Tony Destra
car accident. Cinderella's founding drummer. He was asked to leave just prior to their mainstream breakthrough. He then formed Britny Fox, but he was killed right before recording the Britny Fox debut. He was 33. Cinderella: "Don't Know What You Got 'Til It's Gone" Britny Fox: "Girlschool," "Long Way to Love"

Pete King
testicular cancer; he was 28. King was the drummer for the British punk act, The Flys and later joined After The Fire, who had an international hit with a cover of Falco's (see 1998) "Der Kommissar." He was later a member of the German group, BAP.

Dino Martin, Jr.
(Dean Paul Martin, Jr.), plane crash. He was 35. Member of Dino, Desi and Billy and son of legendary Rat Packer, Dean Martin. Junior died when the Air National Guard jet he was piloting crashed into a mountain. Read about Martin's connection to the Curse of Harry Nilsson. "I'm a Fool," "Not The Lovin' Kind"

Peter Tosh
(Winston Hubert McIntosh), murdered. One of the Wailers with Bob Marley (see 1981) and later a Grammy-winning solo artist. (Tosh was an astounding six-feet-five-and-a-half inches tall.) Three men came to his house demanding money, staying for several hours in an attempt to obtain cash. (Tosh claimed there was none in the house.) Frustrated, the leader of the gang, Dennis "Leppo" Lobban, whom Tosh had tried to help find work after a long jail sentence, put a gun to Tosh's head and fired twice. The other gunmen began shooting, wounding several others and killing disc jockey Jeff "Free I" Dixon. Leppo turned himself in, and was supposedly convicted in the shortest jury deliberation in Jamaican history: 11 minutes. He was sentenced to death, commuted in life in prison in 1995. Neither of his two accomplices were found. (Rumours persist that both were gunned down in the streets.) Tosh was one of three Wailers to be assassinated. (Carlton Barrett was murdered in 1987 and Junior Braithwaite was killed in 1999.) Tosh was 42. The Wailers: "Simmer Down," "Stir It Up," "Get Up, Stand Up" Solo: "Legalize It," "Fight On," "Not Gonna Give It Up"

1988

Chet Baker

Chet Baker

Chet Baker
(Chesney Henry Baker Jr.), fell from a second-story window. Baker was a respected and popular jazz trumpeter and singer. He was found dead on the street below his second-story hotel window in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with serious head wounds. An autopsy found heroin and cocaine in his system. He was 58. In 2005, the state of Oklahoma (where Baker was born) named July 2, "Chet Baker Day" and he was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1991. "Tenderly," "There Will Never Be Another You," "All The Things You Are," "But Not For Me"

Brook Benton
(Benjamin Franklin Peay), spinal meningitis. Benton died at the age of 56. He scored a hit in 1970 with "A Rainy Night In Georgia." "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" (with Dinah Washington, see 1963)

Roy Buchanan
suicide (murdered?) at age 48. Buchanan was a pioneer in blues guitar who influenced other musicians such as Jeff Beck and Robbie Robertson of The Band. Buchanan struggled with alcohol abuse; in 1988 he was arrested for public intoxication and was found hanged with his shirt in his cell. It is speculated that Buchanan was actually murdered; he had bruises on his head and a shattered larynx. His son stated that Buchanan hated the police and most likely fought with them. When his family asked to see the police tapes, they were informed that they had been lost. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Buchanan one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #57). Buchanan's albums include: Roy Buchanan, That's What I Am Here For, Street Called Straight, and When a Guitar Plays the Blues.

John "JC" Curulewski
brain aneurysm at the age of 37. Curulewski was a co-founder of Styx (with Dennis DeYoung and brothers Chuck and John Panozzo. John died of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage brought on by alcoholism in 1996.) Curulewski left the band in the mid-1970s and was replaced on guitar by Tommy Shaw. "Mr. Roboto," "Come Sail Away," "Lady," "Babe"

Jesse Ed Davis
(Jesse Edwin Davis), heroin overdose. Davis was a respected and popular session guitarist who appeared on albums by Eric Clapton, John Lennon (see 1980), Keith Moon (see 1978), Ringo Starr, Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilsson (see 1994) and Steve Miller. Davis also participated in George Harrison's (see 2001) The Concert for Bangladesh. Davis collapsed and was pronounced dead in a laundry room in Venice, California. He had various drugs in his system, but his death is thought to have been caused by a heroin overdose. He was 43 years old. Read about Davis and the Curse of Harry Nilsson.

Andy Gibb

Andy Gibb

Andy Gibb
(Andrew Roy Gibb), viral infection of the heart. Gibb was the younger brother of Bee Gees Barry, Maurice (see 2003) and Robin (succumbed to cancer in 2012, age 62) and was the host of the '80s dance show, "Solid Gold." He was the first male solo artist to chart three consecutive #1 singles in the US. He was 30 at the time of his death. Visit the Archive's Tribute to Andy Gibb. "Shadow Dancing," "Don't Throw It All Away (Our Love)," "I Just Want to Be Your Everything"

Nico

Nico

Nico
(Christa Paffgen), cerebral hemorrhage while in Spain. Occasional singer with the Velvet Underground, model and actress, she was 49. Nico was not included with the Velvets for their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1996. "All Tomorrow's Parties," "I'll Be Your Mirror"

Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison

*Roy Orbison
heart attack; he was 52. Orbison was a legendary, Grammy-winning musician whose career spanned three decades. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1989, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. "Pretty Woman," "Only the Lonely," "Crying," "Leah," "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)," "You Got It"

*Dave Prater
auto accident; he was 51. He was half of the duo, Sam & Dave. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. "Hold On, I'm Comin'," "Soul Man," "I Thank You"

*Hillel Slovak
heroin overdose; he was 26. Slovak, born in Israel to Holocaust survivors, was a founding member and the guitarist for California funk-rock band, Red Hot Chili Peppers. He appeared on their first two albums and was included in their 2012 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, but the band's success didn't ignite until several years after the guitarist's death. Post-Slovak: "Higher Ground," "Under the Bridge," "Give It Away"

Jimmy Soul
(James McCleese), heart attack. Soul hit #1 in 1963 with the song "If You Wanna Be Happy." He was 45 when he died.

B.W. Stevenson
(Lewis Charles "Buckwheat" Stevenson), died following heart surgery. He was 38. "My Maria," "Be My Woman Tonight," "Shambala"

Sylvester
(Sylvester James), AIDS. He was 41. Started as a gospel singer and became disco's first openly gay performer. "Down Down Down," "Dance (Disco Heat)," "Over and Over," "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)"

1989

Pete de Freitas

Echo and the Bunnymen: Pete de Freitas (bottom)

Pete de Freitas
(Pete Louis Vincent de Freitas), motorcycle accident in Staffordshire, England; he was 27. De Freitas was on the A51 when an elderly woman pulled out onto the main road in front of him. He was drummer for Echo and the Bunnymen. (Thanks to Southpaw for the information.) "Over the Wall," "Heaven Up Here, "All My Colours," "The Killing Moon"

John Cipollina
emphysema. Guitarist for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Cipollina was 45. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #32). "Who Do You Love," "Pride of Man," "Fresh Air"

Pattie Santos

Pattie Santos

Pattie Santos
(Patricia Dora Santos), automobile accident. She was 40. Santos was the lead singer for psychedelic rock band, It's A Beautiful Day. The group's eponymous debut album reached number 47 on the US charts. It is speculated that Santos was drunk driving when she failed to negotiate a curve in the road and slammed into a tree (then a fence, followed by another tree). "White Bird," "Time Is," "Hot Summer Day," "Bombay Calling"

Ron Wilson
brain aneurysm. He was 49. Wilson was the drummer for The Surfaris, responsible for the incredible drum solo on their classic, "Wipe Out".