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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For more updates, news, memorials, YouTube links and random music minutia, "like" The Archive on Facebook.
News and Updates
29 November 2013 -
One that almost slipped through the cracks: Lorne Black, original bassist for '80s hair band, Great White, passed away 27 September 2013. Cause of death is unknown; he was 49. He appeared on the group's album Once Bitten. . . which included the hits "Rock Me" and "Save Your Love." (Black left the band in 1987. In 2003, the group made national headlines when pyrotechnics at one of their club shows started a fire which killed over 100 people, including guitarist Ty Longley.) Post-Black, Great White had their biggest hit with "Once Bitten, Twice Shy."
28 July 2013 -
A bit late posting this (although I was right on time on The Archive's Facebook page). New entry: Alan Myers,
drummer for the New Wave group, Devo ("De-evolution") from 1976 until 1986, their most successful period. Myers succumbed to stomach cancer; he was age 58. "Whip It," "Working in the Coal Mine," "Theme from Doctor Detroit".
7 June 2013 -
New photo added to Otis Redding's Tribute. Gina S. found a great (but extremely graphic) photo of Otis Redding after his body was recovered from Lake Monoma following his plane crash in 1967. Redding is shown still strapped to his seat. If you have a taste for the macabre, you can find a link for the image within Redding's Tribute. The soul singer was killed at the age of 26.
21 May 2013 -
The Archive remembers Ray Manzarek, founding member and keyboardist for the legendary rock group, The Doors. Manzarek passed away Monday, 20 May, after a long battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74. (Lead singer, Jim Morrison, died under mysterious circumstances in 1971. He was 27.) The Doors were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. "Light My Fire," "Break On Through," "The Crystal Ship," "LA Woman," "Roadhouse Blues," "Riders On the Storm"
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 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.
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.