The Death of Rock: The Archive
As a morbid hobby, I have archived the premature deaths of many Rock & Roll notables. I do not claim
to have an all-inclusive list. But I do feel that this archive is competently comprehensive.
The criteria for a death to be included in The Archive: the musician must have died "before their time" - in the interest of preserving
space, age 60 or younger.
The artists must also fit into at least one of the following categories: the person must have been famous
(or a member of a popular group), the person must have been influential somehow in the music business,
their death must have impacted the music industry in some significant way, or the story of their life
and/or death must have been unusual enough to surpass the previous criteria. There are several
lesser-known artists included in the archive because I thought their stories were interesting.
This site, as the full title indicates, includes only Rock & Roll personalities and those who have
influenced Rock music.
Each entry includes the artist's name, birth name (if different), year and cause of death, age at time of passing, accolades awarded (such as Hall of Fame memberships), notable songs in the artist's repertoire, and any interesting facts related to the artist's life and/or death. Photos are also provided for many of the performers. Many entries are cross-referenced. You may email me if you feel a worthy artist has been omitted. All decisions by the author (me) are final.
Several of the photos on this site were taken by me; the rest were culled from various magazines and websites. My appreciation to all.
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News and Updates
19 August 2015 -
Added another connection in the Curse of Harry Nilsson: Marc Bolan. Turns out Bolan was friends with Nilsson and another sufferer of the bad luck that seemed to plague those who associated with the musician. For stories of others, visit The Curse of Harry Nilsson.
9 May 2015 -
Added Mary Travers to The Archive. Travers died of leukemia in 2009; she was 72. Travers was part of '60s folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary. Although Travers is past the cut-off age for inclusion into The Archive, I added her
anyway because I was afforded a rare opportunity to obtain a grave photo.
(Umpawaug Cemetery, Redding, Connecticut.) "Puff the Magic Dragon," "Blowin' in the Wind,"
"Leaving On a Jet Plane"
1 May 2015 -
Singer Ben E. King died Thursday at the age of 76. Although most popular for his hit, "Stand By Me," he was formerly the lead singer of the Drifters and scored several hits including "Save the Last Dance For Me" and "There Goes My Baby." (The Drifters were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.)
Suzanne Crough, who played Tracy, the youngest daughter on TV's "The Partridge Family" has died of unknown causes. She was 52. The musical family (based on the Cowsills) scored several hits on the charts. "C'mon Get Happy," "I Think I Love You," "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted"
18 April 2015 -
Johnny Kemp, R&B singer, was found floating dead on a beach in Montego Bay (Jamaica) on Thursday. The cause of death has yet to be determined. He was 55. Kemp was the singer of the Number One R&B hit "Just Got Paid" which was nominated for a Grammy in 1989.
4 April 2015 -
Bob Burns, original drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd, was killed last night in a single-car crash. He was 64. Burns drove off the road as he approached a curve and hit a mailbox and a tree; he was not wearing a seatbelt. Burns was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the group in 2006. In the photo, above: Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, Artimus Pyle, Ed King, and Bob Burns. "Free Bird," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Simple Man," "Saturday Night Special"
Direct yourself to the 2005 - 2009 and 2010 - 2015 pages for the most recent inductees to the Archive.
Navigating The Archive
The Archive is divided into three main categories in addition to four special supplements.
The three main categories are:
- The Alphabetical Archive
- The Chronology
- Causes of death
The special supplements are explained below.
The details surrounding the deaths of a few of Rock's luminaries deserve a more thorough explanation than a regular entry in the Archive would allow. For this reason, the Gateway was created. It is a page where you may access several Tributes which explain, in depth, the circumstances surrounding the deaths of a few of music's brighter lights. The current Tributes available for viewing are:
Hank Williams, Buddy Holly / "Big Bopper" / Ritchie Valens, Jesse Belvin, Patsy Cline / Cowboy Copas / Hawkshaw Hawkins, Eddie Sulik, Bobby Fuller,
Otis Redding, Jim Croce, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Andy Gibb,
Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley, John Denver, Michael Hutchence and Falco.
The Curse of Buddy Holly
The Rock & Roll legend died in a plane crash in 1959, along with "The Big Bopper" and Ritchie Valens.
But those two performers weren't the only artists associated with Holly who would die cruel and early
deaths. Visit this page for a list of over a dozen others, including Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent,
Bobby Fuller, Ricky Nelson, Del Shannon, and John Lennon.
The Curse of Harry Nilsson
Nilsson's hits include "Coconut," "Everybody's Talkin'," and a cover of Badfinger's "Without You."
He died in 1994 at the age of 52 from heart failure. Several prominent artists associated with Nilsson
would meet violent and/or untimely deaths, including John Lennon, Keith Moon, Mama Cass, and Badfinger.
The Curse of 27
After Blues legend Robert Johnson's death at the age of 27, it has been speculated that a curse was unleashed, striking down talented young musicians at the pinnacle of their creativity. Read about the origins of the "curse" with a detailed listing of those performers who have succumb to it, including Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain.
Strange Thought-Patterns at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
In my humble, yet educated, opinion: the following artists deserve induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame. Yet year after year, all go unmentioned and unnoticed. (One notable victory: after years of whining to anyone who would listen, Lynyrd Skynyrd were inducted in 2006.)
J. P. Richardson - "The Big Bopper"
"The Big Bopper"
(Jiles Perry "J.P." Richardson) was killed in the same plane crash that claimed
Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens (both inductees; 1986 and 2001, respectively). Richardson was a disc jockey, performer, and arguably the inventor of the novelty song. His hits include "Little Red Riding Hood," "That's What I'm Talking About," "White Lightnin'," "Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor," and the wildly popular "Chantilly Lace." Big Bopper also wrote and sang back-up on Johnny Preston's "Running Bear." I nominate J.P. under the category of "Early Influence." He has already been inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and he was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Visit the Tribute to Rock's Royal Trinity.
Jan and Dean
Jan & Dean
Jan Berry (d. 2004) and Dean Torrence were the originators of the '60s California surf sound.
They pre-dated the Beach Boys, who would cover several Jan & Dean songs. Incidentally, the Beach Boys, who owe their careers to Jan & Dean, are R&R Hall of Fame inductees (1988). I nominate J&D under the category of "Early Influence." Hits include "Little Old Lady From Pasadena," "Surf City," and "Dead Man's Curve." (Yes, those are originally Jan & Dean. The Beach Boys covered them.)
No explanation should be necessary. Croce's music was memorable - either for the touching and
bittersweet feelings it evoked, or for the humorous and catchy anecdotes he related. He sang about topics that the average person could relate to, and he told his stories with, depending on the song, either sharp wit or raw emotion. The tragedy of his death is compounded by his omission from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He was, however, inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1990. Visit The Archive's Tribute to Jim Croce. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)," "Time in a Bottle," "I Got a Name," "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song," and "You Don't Mess Around With Jim."
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan could play a guitar like nobody's business. Fusing blues and rock & roll, Vaughan gave us a new standard by which all ax-men should be judged. (In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him the #7 greatest guitarist of all time.) SRV had the technical skills and the artistic sensibility to make some of the most passionate and memorable music, classics such as "The Sky is Crying," "Pride and Joy," "Cold Shot," "The House is Rockin'," "Couldn't Stand the Weather," "Crossfire," "Change It," and "Tightrope." The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame needs to catch up - The Blues Hall of Fame inducted Stevie Ray in 2000.
They took their own sweet time, but, as of 2015, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble will be accepted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
For My Father
12 February 1949 - 31 October 2005
This site is dedicated to my father, who always loved good stories, good music, and good stories
"Our captain and leader has not left us -
Today, tomorrow, this year, next...
Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him."
(Inscription on New York Yankee Thurman Munson's memorial.)
The Archive was first compiled on 20 March 2004.
Updates may include the recently deceased, new entries of
those previously deceased who were missing from the Archive, and the addition of photos and/or information for existing inductees.