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The Death of Rock: The Archive

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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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For more updates, news, memorials, YouTube links and random music minutia, "like" The Archive on Facebook.

News and Updates

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8 April 2014 -

New addition to the Archive: Gwar lead singer, Dave Brockie. Brockie, 50, was found dead at his some by a fellow band member. The cause of death has yet to be disclosed. He fronted Gwar, "earth's only openly extraterrestrial rock band," as the character, "Oderus Urungus." The group was nominated for two Grammy Awards. "Sammy," "If I Could Be That," "Mary Anne"

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18 March 2014 -

Added a missing entry to The Archive: Ephraim Lewis was killed in 1994 after jumping from a fourth-floor balcony. It is said that the musician, on methamphetamines at the time, had a violent exchange with police in which he was tasered just prior to his fall. His death was ruled a suicide. Lewis was 25. "It Can't Be Forever" (#29 Top 40, #66 R&B for 6 weeks); "Drowning in Your Eyes" (#72 Hot 100 for 9 weeks, #80 R&B for 4 weeks)

18 March 2014 -

Inserted a reference to the passing of Stooges drummer Scott Asheton in the entries of Stooges bassist Dave Alexander and Asheton's brother, the group's guitarist, Ron. Scott will not have his own stand-alone entry, as he is past the cut-off age for inclusion in The Archive (60 years). Asheton died 15 March 2014 of undisclosed causes at the age of 64.

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16 February 2014 -

The UK's Daily Mail just published an online interview with the two detectives who investigated INXS frontman Michael Hutchence's final hours. They shed some light onto the disturbing details that preceded the singer's death. Hutchence committed suicide by hanging in 1997; he was 37. There is a link to the interview from Hutchence's Tribute page.

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15 February 2014 -

Thanks to Laura L. for alerting us to the story of Luther Perkins. Perkins was a guitarist with the Tennessee Three, Johnny Cash's backing band, and is credited with creating Cash's signature "boom-chicka-boom" music style. On 3 August 1968, Perkins fell asleep in his living room with a lit cigarette. His daughter awoke to find the room engulfed in flames and her father collapsed by the door. He was rushed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries two days later. He was 40. Perkins is buried near Johnny and June Carter Cash. (Johnny Cash died of complications from diabetes at the age of 71 in 2003.) Luther Perkins was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. With Johnny Cash: "Folsom Prison Blues," "Ring of Fire," "In the Jailhouse Now," "I Walk the Line"

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Direct yourself to the 2005 - 2009 and 2010 - 2012 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 Gateway/Tributes

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.)

The Big Bopper

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.

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Jan and Dean

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.)

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Jim Croce

Jim Croce

Jim Croce
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."

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Stevie Ray Vaughan

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.

For My Father

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 about music.

"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.