The Death of Rock: The Alphabetical Archive
T, U & V
Musicians are listed individually. Search by the artist's last name. Artists commonly referred to by a stage or street name (such as "The Big Bopper," Freddie Mercury, and Jam Master Jay) are listed under those names. Musicians who performed under a single name (like Aaliyah, Nico, and Selena) will be found under those single names. There are a few instances where two or more members of the same band perished in a single incident; you will find those artists listed under the group's name. (Examples are Banda Fugaz, The Bar-Kays, Chase, Passion Fruit, and The Reba McEntire Band.) One notable exception to this rule is Lynyrd Skynyrd. Members of Skynyrd are listed individually; although three perished in the 1977 plane crash, another three have since died in unrelated incidents. (The three who died in the crash are grouped as "Lynyrd Skynyrd" on the Causes of Death and Chronology pages.)
Feel free to scroll, or click the letter you wish to view and skip ahead.
- * 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.
- Vinnie Taylor
- (Chris Donald), heroin overdose in 1974; age unknown. Taylor was the lead guitarist for the nostalgic "Greaser" band, Sha Na Na. (Fellow member, David "Chico" Ryan, would die of undisclosed causes in 1998.) "Good Night, Sweetheart"
- Tammi Terrell
- brain tumor (1970); she was 24. Terrell gained notoriety as Marvin Gaye's (see 1984) singing partner on several Motown hits. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," "Your Precious Love"
- Joe Tex
- (Joseph Arrington Jr.), heart attack in 1982. He was 49. "I Gotcha," "Skinny Legs and All," "Hold On To What You've Got," "The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)"
- Gary Thain
- heroin overdose in 1975; he was 27. Thain was the bassist for Uriah Heep. During his final tour, Thain was electrocuted, blacked out, and suffered serious burns. He also (supposedly) contracted an untreatable STD. He was found dead in the bath by his girlfriend. (Heep vocalist, David Byron, would succumb to excessive alcohol consumption in 1985.) "Easy Livin'," "Sweet Lorraine," "Stealin'"
- Jason Matthew Thirsk
- self-inflicted gunshot wound (1996). Thirsk was the bassist and co-founder of California punk band, Pennywise. He struggled for years with various "addictions;"in 1996 he shot himself. He was 28. "Peaceful Day," "Same Old Story," "Living for Today"
- Hughie Thomasson
- (Hugh Edward Thomasson), heart attack in 2007 at age 55. Thomasson formed The Outlaws but quit to be a guitarist with Lynyrd Skynyrd from the mid-1990s until 2005, when he re-formed The Outlaws. (Visit the Archive's Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute. The Outlaws: "There Goes Another Love Song," "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky," "Green Grass and High Tides"
- Tony Thompson
- renal-cell cancer, 2003; he was 48. Thompson debuted as the drummer for Chic, evolving into an in-demand session drummer, backing many popular ‘70s and ‘80s artists, including Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Rod Stewart, Debbie Harry, Mick Jagger, and David Bowie. In 1985, he accompanied the surviving members of Led Zeppelin on stage at Live Aid and formed Power Station ("Some Like It Hot") with Robert Palmer (also 2003) and John and Andy Taylor of Duran Duran. Their self-titled album, produced by fellow Chic member, Bernard Edawards (see 1996), was certified platinum. With Chic: "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)," "Le Freak," "Good Times".
- Melanie Thornton
- crash of Crossair Flight 3597 in 2001. Thornton was the singer for dance group, La Bouche. While flying from Berlin to Zurich, the pilot descended below the minimum descent altitude and crashed into a hill in Bassersdorf, Switzerland, killing 24 of the 33 people on board. Thornton, along with Nathalie van het Ende and Maria Serrano-Serrano of the group, Passion Fruit, were killed. Thornton was 34. "Be My Lover," "Sweet Dreams," "Fallin' In Love," "I Love To Love"
- Johnny Thunders
- (John Anthony Genzale), methadone and alcohol overdose in 1991; he was 39. Thunders was the vocalist for glam-punk outfit The New York Dolls and later joined The Heartbreakers. Drummer Jerry Nolan, who replaced Bill Murcia (see 1972) in The NY Dolls and also later joined The Heartbreakers, succumbed to drug use the following year. (Thunders, Nolan, and Murcia are three of four former New York Dolls to die prematurely. The fourth was Arthur "Killer" Kane in 2004.) "You Can't Put Your Arms Around Money" (with The Heartbreakers), "Personality Crisis," "Frankenstein" (with The New York Dolls)
- *Sonny Til
- (Earlington Carl Tilghman), heart attack in 1981. 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"
- Georgeanna Tillman
- sicklel cell anemia (1980). 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"
- Wayman Tisdale
- bone cancer; 2009. He was 44. Tisdale was a basketball star (winning a gold medal as a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team) and jazz musician. His debut CD, Power Forward, reached No. 4 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart. "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," "Can't Hide Love," "Don't Take Your Love Away"
- 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. It was 1980 and 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"
- Peter Tosh
- (Winston Hubert McIntosh), murdered in 1987. 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"
- Domenic Troiano
- cancer in 2005. He was 59. Troiano was the guitarist for The Guess Who and The James Gang. The Guess Who: "American Woman," "These Eyes," "Undun" The James Gang: "Walk Away," "Funk #49"
- E. William Tucker
- suicide in 1999. Tucker was a guitarist with metal icons, Ministry. He reportedly had taken pills and afterwards slit his own throat. His body was discovered by his roommate, along with a 10-page suicide note. He was 38. There was speculation that he may have been trying to escape the pain of an unknown illness that had hounded him for the past few years. "Jesus Built My Hotrod," "Lay, Lady, Lay," "Stigmata"
- Mick Tucker
- leukemia in 2002. He was 53. Drummer for Sweet, who enjoyed hits with "Ballroom Blitz," "Little Willie," "Fox on the Run," and "Love is Like Oxygen."
- Tommy Tucker
- (Robert Higginbotham); he was 48 (1982). 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.)
- #Conway Twitty
- (Harold Jenkins), abdominal aneurysm in 1993. He was 59. Twitty was a successful country musician who enjoyed early pop success with the hit "It's Only Make Believe." Twitty was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and he was also inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. "Hello Darlin',""After the Fire is Gone" (with Loretta Lynn), "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" (also with Lynn)
- Rob Tyner
- heart failure at age 46 (1991). Vocalist for seminal punk group, the MC5 (Motor City 5). Guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith, would succumb to the same ailment three years later. (Bassist Michael Davis died of liver disease in 2012. He was 68.) "Kick Out the Jams," "Shakin' Street"
- Gary Usher
- cancer (1990). He was 51. Usher was the lead for The Hondells. "Little Honda"
- *Ritchie Valens
- (Richard Steven Valenzuela), plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and "The Big Bopper" in 1959; Valens was 17. Visit the Archive's Tribute to Rock's Royal Trinity. Valens was the first person to chart with a song in Spanish, with "La Bamba." He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and he has also been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. (Read about the connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly.) "Come On, Let's Go," "Oh, Donna," "We Belong Together," "Ooh, My Head"
- Luther Vandross
- 2005, complications from a stroke suffered in 2003. Luther Ronzoni Vandross, a Grammy-winning soul vocalist, claimed to have lost 100 pounds - 13 times in his life. He also suffered from hypertension and diabetes. He remained in a coma for two months after his 2003 stroke and never completely recovered. He was 54. "Here and Now," "Give Me the Reason," "Power of Love/Love Power," "The Best Things in Life Are Free" (duet with Janet Jackson)
- Randy Van Warmer
- leukemia (2004). He was 48. Van Warmer recorded the hit "Just When I Needed You Most" and wrote the number one country hits "It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes" (performed by The Oak Ridge Boys) and "I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why)" (by Alabama). He was cremated and his remains were sent into space in 2007.
- *Ronnie Van Zant
- plane crash in Mississippi (1977); he was 29. Ronnie was the lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Guitarist Steve Gaines, Steve's sister, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, and manager Dean Kilpatrick were also killed. Gary Rossington, Allen Collins (see 1990), Billy Powell (see 2009), Artimus Pyle and Leon Wilkeson (see 2001) survived, but not without serious injuries. Lynyrd Skynyrd were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Visit the Archive's Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute. "Free Bird," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Gimme Three Steps," "Simple Man"
- ^Stevie Ray Vaughan
- helicopter crash into a fog-shrouded, man-made ski hill in 1990. A guitar legend; he was 35. He was nominated for two and won two Grammy Awards. In 2003, Rolling Stone Magazine named Vaughan one of greatest guitarist of all time (ranking number 7). Vaughan was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000. View the National Transportation and Safety Board report on Stevie Ray Vaughan's helicopter crash. "Pride and Joy," "Cold Shot" "Tight Rope"
- Henry "Sunflower" Vestine
- respiratory failure; he was 52. Vestine was an original member of Canned Heat, with Al "Blind Owl" Wilson (see 1970) and Bob "The Bear" Hite (see 1981). Vestine was found dead in his hotel room in 1997. In 2003, Rolling Stone Magazine named Vestine one of greatest guitarist of all time (ranking number 77). "Same All Over," "Let's Work Together," "Time Was," "Boogie Music," "On the Road Again"
- *Sid Vicious
- (John Simon Ritchie), heroin overdose in 1979. Sex Pistols' bassist; he was 21. Vicious died while on bail after being charged in his girlfriend's murder. It is speculated that the overdose was administered by his mother and was intentionally fatal. The Sex Pistols were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. "Anarchy in the U.K.," "God Save the Queen"
- *Gene Vincent
- (Eugene Vincent Craddock), internal bleeding from a ruptured stomach ulcer (1971); he was 36. Sadly, his family lacked sufficient funds and the city of Los Angeles had to bury him. Vincent won an "Elvis Presley Soundalike Sweepstakes" in 1956, landing a contract with Capitol Records. He survived the automobile crash that killed singer Eddie Cochran (see 1960). Vincent was the first inductee into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1997, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Read about Vincent's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly. "Be-Bop-A-Lula," "Lotta Lovin'"
Ronnie Van Zant
Stevie Ray Vaughan; memorial in Austin, Texas.
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).
Gene Vincent, circa 1957 (unknown photographer, Rolling Stone Images of Rock & Roll).