The Death of Rock: Murders and Suicides
KeySome 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.
- Johnny Ace
- (John Marshall Alexander), accidentally shot himself. He was 25. Ace was an extremely popular rhythm and blues singer. While taking a break during a Christmas Eve show in 1954, he decided to impress his girlfriend, Olivia, and blues singer, "Big Mama" Thornton. With Olivia on his lap, he put a gun to his head, certain he would not get the one bullet loaded in the chamber. He did. "My Song," "Cross My Heart," "Please Forgive Me," "The Clock," "Yes, Baby," "Never Let Me Go," "Pledging My Love"
- Chris Acland
- suicide. Acland was the drummer for Lush. He committed suicide at his parents home in 1996. He was 30. "Ladykillers," "De-Luxe," "Desire Lines"
- Stuart Adamson
- suicide by hanging. Adamson was the guitarist for late-'70s Scottish punk band, The Skids, and lead singer for '80s group, Big Country, which was the first band to play a privately-promoted concert in Moscow. Adamson sang on the 1985 "Band Aid" Christmas hit, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" He was plagued by alcoholism and was found hanging in a Honolulu hotel room in 2001. He was 43. The Skids: "Into the Valley," "Charade," "The Saints Are Coming" Big Country: "Look Away," "Wonderland," "In A Big Country," "Fields of Fire (400 Miles)"
- Banda Fugaz
- shot in 2007. All four members of Mexican techno group, Banda Fugaz, were killed when gunmen opened fire with AK-47s as the band was returning from a performance. Those killed were Carlos Alberto Hurtado Lule, age 26; Noa Camargo Mendoza, 21, Cristabal Juarez Serrano, 31; Daniel Gonalez Pimentel, 30. The band's manager, Carlos Hurtado Gonzalez, age 57, suffered multiple gunshot wounds. No motives have been identified in the killings, and no arrests have been made. The murders are part of a string of killings of Mexican musicians.
- Carlton "Carly" Barrett
- shot in 1987; he was 36. Barrett was a member of Bob Marley and the Wailers. 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"
- Dave Blood
- (David Schulthise), suicide in 2004. He was 47. Bassist for the Dead Milkmen, popular on the '80s college circuit. The band broke up in 1995, when Blood developed tendinitis in both hands, forcing him to stop playing music. "Bitchin' Camaro," "Punk Rock Girl"
- Bobby Bloom
- accidental gunshot wound in 1974. He was 28. "Montego Bay," "Heavy Makes You Happy"
- Tommy Boyce
- suicide. He was 55. Boyce suffered from depression, and in 1994 he shot himself in his home. He reportedly left two suicide notes indicating his desire to "go and be with" his dead mother, Elvis Presley (see 1977), and Del Shannon (see 1990). (He had been friends with both.) Boyce teamed with Bobby Hart on the '˜60s hits "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" and "I'll Blow You a Kiss in the Wind."
- Junior Braithwaite
- (Franklin Delano Alexander Braithwaite), shot in 1999. He was 50. Braithwaite was one of the founders and the first lead singer of The Wailers (which also featured Bob Marley, see 1981). Braithwaite was one of three Wailers to be murderded. (Carlton Barrett and Peter Tosh were both shot in 1987.) "Simmer Down," "Stir It Up," "Get Up, Stand Up"
- Shirley Brickley
- shot to death; 1977. Brickley was a member of The Orlons, who were popular in the 1960s. Brickley was shot and killed by an intruder in her home; she was 35. "The Wah Watusi," "Don't Hang Up," "South Street"
- Herman Brood
- suicide. Brood was a well known artist and musician on the Dutch rock scene for 30 years. As the leader of Wild Romance, he enjoyed massive success with the 1978 hit, "Saturday Night." Brood often spoke about the difficulty of stopping his famous drug habit and had been complaining of poor health and depression. He had told a close friend he didn't want to "fade away." (See Kurt Cobain's suicide note, 1994.) He jumped to his death from the roof of an Amsterdam hotel in 2001. He was 55.
- 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.
- Arlester "Dyke" Christian
- shot in 1971. Christian sang back up for The O'Jays and later formed Dyke and the Blazers. Christian is said to have influenced many, including James Brown and Wilson Pickett. He was shot four times with a .22-caliber pistol while sitting in his car in downtown Phoenix. He was 27. It was speculated that the killing was drug-related; the case against the shooter, Clarence Daniels, was dismissed based upon "evidence indicating self-defense." Dyke and the Blazers were inducted to the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame. "Let A Woman Be a Woman, Let a Man Be a Man," "Funky Broadway - Part 1" (later covered by Pickett as a #1 R&B single)
- Kurt Cobain
- self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head; 1994. Lead singer/guitarist for rock music iconoclasts and grunge pioneers, Nirvana. Cobain's body was discovered by an electrician 3 days after his death. Cobain suffered from stomach problems, possible depression/bipolar disorder, and drug addiction. He was 27 when he took his life. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #12). Visit the Kurt Cobain Tribute for artist information, photos, his suicide note, and a detailed account of the events leading up to his death. Learn about Cobain's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly. "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Come As You Are," "Heart-Shaped Box," "All Apologies"
- *Sam Cooke
- murdered in 1964. Member of the gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, and wildly successful solo artist. Cooke was staying in a LA motel with a woman he had picked up. He realized his money and clothes were stolen and assumed the manageress of the motel was in on the scam. Cooke, half-naked, accosted her. She brandished a gun and a struggle ensued. Cooke was fatally shot; he was 33. Over 200,000 fans payed their respects in Chicago. Cooke was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 1986; the Soul Stirrers were inducted in 1989. "You Send Me," "Twisting the Night Away," "Chain Gang," "Bring It On Home"
- Ian Curtis
- hanged himself; 1980. 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"
- *King Curtis
- (Curtis Ousley), murdered. Curtis was a legendary session saxophonist who appeared on many hits in the 50's and 60's. He had 15 top 100 songs from 1962 to 1971. In 1971, he had an argument outside his apartment when a man pulled out a dagger and stabbed Curtis in the heart. He was 37. King Curtis was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. "Soul Twist," "Ode to Billie Joe," "Memphis Soul Stew." With the Coasters: "Yakety Yak"
- "Dimebag" Darrell
- (Darrell Abbott), shot to death in 2004, while performing with Damageplan. He was 38. Darrell was co-founder and guitarist of the metal groups Pantera and Damageplan. The shooting occurred on the 24th anniverasry of John Lennon's fatal shooting by Mark David Chapman (see 1980). You can read the report on Darrell's murder, released 24 October 2005. With Pantera: "Planet Caravan" (Black Sabbath cover)," "Revolution is My Name," "Becoming." With Damageplan: "Explode," "Save Me," "Breathing New Life"
- Brad Delp
- carbon monoxide poisoning in 2007. Delp was the lead singer and guitarist for '70s rock band, Boston. He was found on his bathroom floor, his head on a pillow and a suicide note ("I am a lonely soul.... I have lost my desire to live.") paper-clipped to the neck of his shirt. Delp had sealed himself inside the room with two charcoal grills. He was 55. "More Than a Feeling," "Amanda," "Peace of Mind," "Don't Look Back"
- DJ AM
- (Adam Michael Goldstein), overdose of OxyContin pain killers in 2009; drug paraphanelia (crack cocaine) was also found near the body. It is widely speculated that the cause of death was suicide. Goldstein had survived a fatal plane crash less than a year before, sustaining third-degree burns. He often spoke about his survivor's guilt and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He had also recently broken up with his girlfriend. DJ AM was a member of Crazy Town ("Butterfly") with Rust Epique (see 2004) and was a popular and well-respected club DJ. He was 36.
- Nick Drake
- (Nicholas Rodney Drake), anti-depressant overdose in 1974; he was 26. Drake was an ethereal folk singer. In 1985, The Dream Academy released the song, "Life in a Northern Town," about Drake. It reached #7 on The Billboard Hot 100. "Pink Moon," "Fly," "Northern Sky," "Black-Eyed Dog"
- Sims Ellison
- self-inflicted gunshot wound. Ellison was the bass-player and co-founder of the hard rock band, Pariah. He was 28 at the time of his death in 1995. "Nobody Listens"
- Tom Evans
- hanging (suicide); 1983. 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)"
- Charles Fizer
- shot by the National Guard during the 1965 Watts Riots. He was 24. Fizer was a member of the vocal quaret, The Olympics. Friday, the 13th of August, marked the third day of rioting in the Watts neighbordhood of Los Angeles. President Lyndon B. Johnson had sent in the National Guard to quell the hostilities. Thirty-four people would be killed and over 1,000 injured before the violence ceased. Fizer was on his way to rehearsal on the 13th when he was struck and killed by a National Guard bullet. Also killed was the sister of Melvin King, who had replaced Fizer in The Olympics for a year while Fizer served a jail sentence for drug possession. King, devastated by the loss of his sister, played only one more show with the group. He was replaced by Mack Starr, who was killed in a motorcylce accident (see 1981). "Western Movies" (which reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100), "(Baby) Hully Gully," "Big Boy Pete," "Good Lovin'"
- James Freud
- (Colin McGlinchey), suicide (method undisclosed) in 2010. Freud, age 51, was the frontman for the Australian band, The Models. He was found dead in his home by family members; he had been struggling with drugs and alcohol for years. Just the week prior to Freud's death, The Models were inducted into the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Hall of Fame. Freud did not attend the ceremony, privately revealing that he could not be around alcohol. The Models had two huge hit singles in Australia: "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" and "Barbados." Freud also scored several solo hits and published two memoirs.
- Bobby Fuller
- (Robert Gaston Fuller), murdered in 1966. Leader of the Bobby Fuller Four. Their biggest hit, "I Fought the Law," was penned by Sonny Curtis of Buddy Holly's Crickets. (Read about Fuller's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly.) Fuller's body was found in his car at his house. He had been severely beaten, one of his right fingers was broken, and he was drenched in gasoline. Friends stated that Fuller had recently been harassed by local mobsters, possibly in connection with a woman. But the police judged his death a suicide. His death certificate states the causes of demise as asphyxia and inhalation of gasoline, ruled as an "accident." Fuller was 23. Vist The Archive's Tribute to Bobby Fuller."I Fought the Law," "Love's Made a Fool of You," "Never to Be Forgotten"
- Mike Furber
- suicide in 1973. Furber was the singer and co-founder of the Bowery Boys, a group popular primarily in Australia. After the disintegration of the band and his inability to get a solo career off the ground, he hanged himself in a garage. H e was 24. "That's When the Happiness Began," "Just a Poor Boy"
- Mike Gannon
- gunshot wound. Gannon was guitarist for the Electric Prunes on their 1967 hit, "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night." He died of a gunshot wound while on R&R in Hawaii in the ealy Seventies, after a tour of duty in Vietnam. No exact cause or date of death could be found, and Gannon's age at death is unknown.
- Danny Gatton
- self-inflicted gunshot wound (1994). He was 49. Gatton fused jazz, blues, and rockabilly and was nominated for a Grammy for "Elmira Street Boogie." Among Gatton's admirers are Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Chris Isaak (Gatton appeared on his album, San Francisco Days), Les Paul, Steve Vai, and Slash. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #63). Gatton's albums include: American Jazz, Redneck Boogie, Blazing Telecasters (live), 88 Elmira Street and Cruisin' Deuces.
- *Marvin Gaye
- (Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr.), shot by his father in 1984. 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.)
- Samuel George, Jr.
- stabbed in 1982. 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.
- Leroy Griffin
- incinerated. Griffin was a member of The Nutmegs, a doo-wop/R&B vocal group. In 1966, Griffin returned to a plant where he occasionally worked and had an argument with a colleague. His body was later found in one of the factory's huge furnaces. He was 32. (Fellow Nutmeg, Leroy McNeil, was also murdered, in 1975.) "Story Untold," "Ship of Love"
- *Cornell Gunter
- shot. Gunter was one of the original Coasters and, in 1980, reformed the band as The Fabulous Coasters. (This was the same year that manager Patrick Cavanaugh murdered their bassist, Nathaniel Wilson.) In 1990, after a show in Vegas, Gunter pulled up at an intersection in his '78 Camaro. An argument ensued with an unidentified man who was standing at the curb. Then Gunter's car was sprayed with bullets; he was hit twice. He tried to speed away but his injuries were too severe and he crashed into a wall. He was 53. His murder was never solved. 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"
- Pete Ham
- hanging (suicide); 1975. Member of Badfinger, he was 27. Ham's bandmate, Tom Evans, would follow in his steps 8 years later. 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)"
- Donny Hathaway
- suicide. R&B artist who achieved success as Roberta Flack's duet partner with, "Where Is the Love" and "The Closer I Get to You." He also recorded the theme song for the '70s television show, "Maude" (starring Bea Arthur). In 1979, Hathaway was found dead on the sidewalk below the 15th floor window of his room in New York's Essex House hotel. The glass had been carefully removed from the window, and there were no signs of struggle, leading investigators to rule his death a suicide. He was 33.
- Paul Hester
- suicide by hanging, 2005. Hester was the drummer for '80s band, Crowded House. His body was found in a park near his home in Melbourne. Reports said he was discovered hanging from a tree. Hester was 46 at the time of his death. "Don't Dream it's Over," "Something So Strong," "Weather with You"
- Doug Hopkins
- shot himself in 1993. Ex-member of and songwriter for the Gin Blossoms. Hopkins was 32. "Hey Jealousy," "Found Out About You," "'Til I Hear It From You"
- Michael Hutchence
- hanged himself; 1997. Lead singer for INXS, he was 37. Hutchence's girlfriend, Paula Yates, in a custody battle with ex-husband Bob Geldof (formerly of the Boomtown Rats), was prevented from leaving England with their three daughters and with Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, her daughter with Hutchence. Unable to join him in Australia for Christmas, reports speculated that an already depressed Hutchence committed suicide. Some pose the theory that it was an accidental death resulting from autoerotic asphyxiation. For the complete story, visit the Archive's Michael Hutchence Tribute. "Need You Tonight," "Disappear," "New Sensation," "Not Enough Time," "Never Tear Us Apart," "Elegantly Wasted"
- *Al Jackson
- murdered (1975); he was 39. Jackson was a session drummer and member of Booker T. and the MGs. Among others, Jackson backed Otis Redding (see 1967), Al Green, and Sam & Dave (Dave Prater, see 1988). Jackson's death remains suspicious: he was killed the day before he was allegedly due to testify at a hearing concerning Stax Records' bankruptcy. Also, Jackson's estranged wife was at his home the night of the murder, bound and gagged; the intruders tied him up and then shot him five times in the back. He and his wife had been negotiating a divorce and she had shot him earlier that year in "self defense." No items of value were missing after the break-in. Ultimately, someone else was assigned responsibility for the crime, and that person was shot in 1976 while resisting arrest. Booker T. & the MGs were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. "Green Onions," "Time is Tight," "Soul Limbo," "Hang 'Em High"
- *Michael Jackson
- (Michael Joseph Jackson), acute propofol intoxication, ruled as a homicide (2009); he was 50. Jackson collapsed at his home and was not breathing when paramedics arrived. He was suffered a cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center. The Los Angeles County coroner had ruled Jackson's death a homicide. Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician, administered lethal levels of propofol (a powerful anesthetic) in addition to several sedatives hours prior to Jackson's collapse, supposedly in an effort to get the performer to sleep.
- Jackson was arguably the most famous entertainer in the world, winning every music (and music video) award in existence. He began his career as lead singer of The Jackson 5, a group consisting of Michael and his brothers. (Singer Janet Jackson is his younger sister.) He went onto a phenomenal solo career, releasing Thriller in 1982, the best-sellling album of all time. He influenced music, dance, music videos and fashion. Jackson co-wrote and performed on "We Are the World," for the charity USA for Africa, which went on to become the best-selling single at the time. He won 13 Grammy Awards, had 13 number one singles and achieved sales of over 750 million albums worldwide. Jackson was named male artist of the millennium at the World Music Awards. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice: with the Jackson 5 in 1997 and as a solo performer in 2001.
- By contrast, his personal life was often a subject of controversy. He was married twice, once to Elvis Presley's (see 1977) daughter, Lisa Marie, and he was the father of three children: Michael Joseph, Jr. ("Prince") and Paris Michael Katherine (with second wife, Debbie Rowe), and Prince Michael II ("Blanket") born to an unnamed surrogate mother. Jackson battled several allegations of child molestation occuring at his Neverland Ranch and he came under fire when he once dangled "Blanket" off a balcony in front of the paparazzi. He was also criticzed for his compulsion for plastic surgery and his claim that he suffered from vitiligo, a condition where the skin loses all pigmentation.
- With the Jackson 5: "I Want You Back," "ABC," "Who's Lovin' You," "The Love You Save," "I'll Be There," "Dancing Machine"
- Solo career: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Rock With You," "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Thriller," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)," "Human Nature," "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" (duet with Siedah Garrett), "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man in the Mirror," "Smooth Criminal," "Black or White," "Remember the Time," "In the Closet," "Scream" (duet with Janet Jackson)
- *Jam Master Jay
- (Jason Mizell), shot while working in a Queens (NY) recording studio in 2002. Mizell was DJ for the ground-breaking rap trio, Run-DMC. His death was one in a string of rap artist slayings. Mizell was 37. Run-DMC were named Greatest Hip Hop Group of All Time by MTV.com and Greatest Hip Hop Artist of All Time by VH1. The trio was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. "Walk This Way," "Mary Mary," "Down With the King"
- *^Robert Johnson
- (Robert Leroy Johnson), poisoned in 1938; he was 27. Father of the Blues, "King of the Delta Blues". Legend has that Johnson was living in Mississippi with no outstanding talent for guitar playing, but a strong desire to master the blues. He took his guitar to a crossroads at midnight, where he was met by a mysterious man who took the guitar and tuned it. Thereafter, Johnson possessed the unparalleled ability to play blues guitar. He had sold his soul to the devil in order to be the greatest bluesman. Johnson was infamous for his womanizing; while in Mississippi, he was supposedly given a bottle of whisky that had been poisoned by a jealous husband. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Johnson one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #5). He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He was also honored on a United States postage stamp. "Crossroads," "I Think I'll Dust My Broom" "Hellhound on My Trail"
- Terry Kath
- accidental suicide; 1978. Kath was the founder and guitarist of Chicago. At a party, an intoxicated Kath decided to show off a gun from his collection. After stating, Don't worry, it's not loaded," Kath put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. It was loaded. He was 32. "Saturday in the Park," "25 or 6 to 4," "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?"
- Philip Taylor Kramer
- apparently drove off a cliff. Kramer took Lee Dorman's place as Iron Butterfly's bassist when the band re-formed in 1975. He was found in a canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains in 1999, four years after vanishing. In 1995, Kramer waited at Los Angeles International Airport for a contact who never arrived, then called both his wife and Ron Bushy (Butterfly's drummer) from his cell phone, leaving Bushy a cryptic message about seeing him "...on the other side." He also called 911, saying he was going to commit suicide. He was never heard from again. At the time of his disappearance, he had reportedly made a stunning mathematical discovery, prompting rumors of foul play. Kramer was 42; he predeceased Butterfly original singer Darryl DeLoach (see 2002) and guitarist Erik Brann (see 2003). "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita," "Are You Happy?"
- *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"
- Mark Linkous
- self-inflicted gunshot wound to the heart in 2010; he was 47. Linkous was a singer, songwriter and frontman of the group, Sparklehorse. He was staying with two friends, drinking heavily, and became upset after trading text messages with an unknown person. Linkous told his friends that he was going for a walk and exited through a back door. A witness saw him sit down in an alley, pull out a rifle, and fire into his own chest. He was declared dead at the scene. This is not the first time Linkous had attempted suicide. In 1996 while touring with Radiohead, he overdosed on pills, alcohol and anti-depressants. He lost consciousness for 14 hours, with his legs pinned beneath him and suffered a heart attack that left him legally dead for several minutes. The time he spent without circulation to his legs put him in a wheelchair for six months. "Someday I Will Treat You Good," "Rainmaker," "Sick of Goodbyes"
- *Richard Manuel
- hanging (suicide); 1986. 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"
- Daniel McKenna
- suicide in 2006. He was 54. McKenna was the guitarist for '70s band Toby Beau. He was found dead in his home. No other details were revealed, other than that the death was ruled a suicide. "My Angel Baby," "Westbound Train," "Into the Night," "Broken Down Cowboy"
- Leroy McNeil
- stabbed. McNeil was a member of The Nutmegs, a doo-wop/R&B vocal group. In 1975 McNeil was fatally stabbed during an argument. He was 36. (Fellow Nutmeg, Leroy Griffin, was also murdered, in 1966.) "Story Untold," "Ship of Love"
- Joe Meek
- (Robert George Meek), self-inflicted gunshot wound. Meek was a pioneering record producer and songwriter. Meek's works include The Tornados' "Ridin' the Wind" and "Telstar," which was the first song by a British act to reach #1 on the US Hot 100. Meek suffered from bouts of rage, paranoia and depression which were exacerbated by his drug use. He became obsessed with fallen rocker Buddy Holly (see 1959), whom Meek claimed visited him in dreams. On the eighth anniversary of Holly's death (3 February 1967), Meek shot and killed his landlady before turning the single-barreled shotgun on himself. He was 37. Read about Meek's involvement in the Curse of Buddy Holly.
- Michael Menson
- (Michael Tachie-Menson), set on fire. He was 30. Menson was a member of the British band, Double Trouble, who had several pop hits in the 1980s. On 28 January 1997, Mario Pereira, Harry Charalambous Constantinou, and Ozguy Cevat, using an accelerant, set fire to the back of Menson's coat. Constantinou also stole his personal stereo; they then fled. Two passing motorists, and later emergency services, went to Menson's aid. He died about two weeks later from complications and two heart attacks caused by 30% burns to his back. Pereira confessed to the killing, saying the the motive was that Menson was, or looked like, a man who had "stressed his girlfriend." In 1999, Pereira was found guilty of murder, Constantinou was found guilty of manslaughter, and Cevat (who fled to Cyprus) was arrested and jailed for 14 years for manslaughter. "Just Keep Rockin'," "Street Tuff," "Don't Give Up," "Talk Back," "Love Don't Live Here Anymore"
- *Don Myrick
- shot accidentally by police; he was 45. Myrick played saxophone for Earth, Wind & Fire. In 1993, an LAPD officer had a warrant to search Myrick's apartment for drugs. (Myrick had been abusing crack cocaine.) He shot Myrick when he mistook a cigarette lighter for a pistol in Myrick's hand. Earth, Wind & Fire were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Vocal Hall of Fame in 2003. "Shining Star," "Boogie Wonderland," "Let's Groove"
- Billy Nelson
- (William Hugh Nelson, Jr.), suicide in 1991. Nelson, son of legendary country singer, Willie Nelson, hanged himself. Cause is unknown. He was 33. "Put Me on a Train Back to Texas"
- Phil Ochs
- hanging. Ochs was an anti-establishment folk singer, who used his songs to protest against the Vietnam War and to campaign for civil, student, and labor rights. The FBI maintained a file on the singer nearly 500 pages long. In 1973, he was assaulted and almost killed. During the attack he was strangled which permanently damaged his vocal chords. Plagued by bipolar disorder and an alternate, drunken personality (John Butler Train), he hanged himself at the age of 36 in 1976. In 2009, the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance awarded Ochs the Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Award. Read about Ochs's involvement in the Curse of Buddy Holly. "I Ain't Marchin," "Draft Dodger Rag," "There But For Fortune"
- Brian O'Hara
- singer and guitarist with the Fourmost, a group that shared a manager with the Beatles. The Fourmost had hits with songs written by John Lennon (see 1980) and Paul McCartney, including "Hello Little Girl" and "I'm In Love." O'Hara was found hanging at his home in 1999. He was 58.
- Jesus Adolfo Rayos Otanos
- murdered in 2011. Otanos was the clarinetist for the Mexican group, Hermanos Baldenegro. Three men pulled up next to the band's tour bus in Nogales, Mexico and requested that the group play a song. When the lead singer refused, one of the men pulled out a gun and fired into the bus. Otanos, who was sleeping, was shot twice, in the right leg and ankle. He later died at the hospital from heart failure. He was 30.
- Felix Pappalardi
- shot and killed by his wife, Gail Collins, in 1983, 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"
- Clayton Perkins
- (Lloyd Clayton Perkings), suicide. Member of the Perkins Brothers (which included Jay and Carl). In 1956, while on their way to perform Carl's composition, "Blue Sude Shoes" on "The Perry Como Show," the driver of their vehicle fell asleep at the wheel and slammed into a pickup truck. Sidelined, the brothers watched as Elvis Presley (see 1977), hijacked the single (simultaneously bolstering his phenomenal career). Jay suffered a fractured neck and internal injuries and continued to suffer the consequences of his injuries, finally succumbing in 1958. Clayton never recovered from the loss of his brother, and when Carl decided to continue in the music business alone, Clayton fell to alcoholism. On Chritsmas Day of 1973, Clayton was found in dead in his bed at the age of 38. He had shot himself with a .22-calibre pistol. (Carl died of throat cancer in 1998 at the age of 65.)
- Rob Pilatus
- suicide by ingesting a mixture of unidentified pills and alcohol in 1998. He was 32. Pilatus was half of the lip-synching duo, Milli Vanilli. The pair was forced to return their 1990 Grammy for "Best New Artist" when it was discovered that they were not the ones singing on their album. "Girl, You Know It's True," "Blame It On the Rain," "Baby Don't Forget My Number"
- Bobby Ramirez
- murdered in 1972. Ramirez was the drummer for Edgar Winter's White Trash. While in a Chicago bar, a man made a derogatory comment about Ramirez's long hair. Ramirez replied and the man hit the drummer, drawing blood. When a request for law enforcement was refused, Ramirex followed his attacker outsider. When fellow band member Jerrry LaCroix next saw Ramirez, he was bloody and lifeless in their road manager's arms. His assailant had used a pointed steel-tipped shoe as one of his weapons and had not engaged Ramirez alone. The drummer was 23 when he was killed. "Give It Everything You Got," "I've Got News For You," "Fly Away"
- 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 in 1983. He was 41.
- Frank Rosolino
suicide in 1978. He was 52. Rosolino was a highly-regarded trombonist, and his song "Blue Daniel" became a jazz standard.
After learning that he had been carrying on an affair, his third wife (and mother to his two sons) committed suicide via
carbon monoxide inhalation in their garage. Supposedly, Rosolino was unable to cope with her death, so he shot both of
his sons (ages 9 and 7), killing the older son and blinding the other, before killing himself.
- 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.
- (Selena Quintanilla Perez), shot in 1995. The "Queen of Tejano Music" was just beginning to enjoy mainstream success; she was 23. Selena's family discovered that Yolanda Saldivar, the president of Selena's fan club, was embezzling money and fired her. Afterwards, Selena met Saldivar at a hotel in Corpus Christi, TX, to obtain missing financial documents. Saldivar took a gun from her purse, and as Selena turned to leave, shot her once in the back. Selena ran to the lobby and collapsed on the floor, dying at the hospital from extensive blood loss. Saldivar barricaded herself in her pickup truck with the gun and enetered into a stand-off with police for ten hours before surrendering. She was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Selena won a Grammy and was nominated for another. Her birthday, 16 April, was declared "Selena Day" in Texas, and a film based on her life (with Jennifer Lopez as the slain singer) was released in 1997. In June 2006, a museum was dedicated to Selena and a life-size bronze statue were unveiled in Corpus Christi. "I'm Getting Used to You," "I Could Fall in Love," "Dreaming of You"
- *Del Shannon
- (Charles Weedon Westover), self-inflicted rifle wound. He was 55. On February 3, 1990, Shannon performed at the annual Buddy Holly (see 1959) concert in Clear Lake, Iowa. (Read about Shannon's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly.) Five days after the concert, he unexpectedly killed himself (using a .22 calibre rifle) while on anti-depressants. Shannon's wife filed suit a year later against the makers of the prescription drug Prozac claiming that its use contributed to his death. Del Shannon was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and he was also inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. "Runaway," "Hats Off to Larry," "Little Town Flirt," "So Long Baby"
- James "Shep" Sheppard
- murdered in 1970. He was 34. Sheppard, lead singer for Shep and The Limelites, was found shot to death in his car on the Long Island Expressway. He had been robbed and beaten. "Daddy's Home," "A Thousand Miles Away," "Everybody's Somebody's Fool"
- "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.
- Elliott Smith
- self-inflicted stab wound (2003). Smith released 5 solo albums and was nominated for an Academy Award for the song, "Miss Misery," from the 1997 film, Good Will Hunting. He was 34.
- Ronnie Smith
- suicide. Smith was lead vocalist for the Poor Boys, which included drummer Carl Bunch. Bunch had replaced Buddy Holly's regular drummer on the ill-fated Winter Dance Party tour (see the Buddy Holly Tribute). (Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup substituted for Holly's regular bassist and guitarist, respectively.) After the fatal plane crash, Ronnie Smith replaced Holly as vocalist on the remainder of the tour. (Read about the Curse of Buddy Holly.) Smith, Bunch, Jennings, and Allsup later formed the Jitters. In 1962, Smith was committed to a state hospital for drug abuse; he hanged himself in one of the bathrooms. His age at the time of his death was approximately 24.
- Screaming Lord Sutch
- (David Edward Sutch), suicide in 1999. He was 58. Sutch was a British shock-rocker, whose album Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends was named in a 1998 BBC poll as the worst album of all time. He was found hanged at his London home, the year following the death of his mother. "Jack the Ripper"
- 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"
- 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"
- 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"
- Chuck Wagon
- (Bob Davis), shot himself in 1981. 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"
- Jeff Ward
- suicide. Ward was a drummer who played with Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and the Revolting Cocks. In 1993, Ward was dealing with a heroin addiction when he died from self-administered carbon monoxide poisoning. Ward was 30. Nine Inch Nails (post-Ward): "Down In It," "Closer," "Head Like a Hole," "Downward Spiral" (supposedly inspired by Ward)
- *Vince Welnick
- cut his own throat in 2006; he was 51. Welnick had battled cancer, alcoholism and depression. He replaced Brent Mydland (see 1990) as keyboardist for the Grateful Dead. He was the fourth Dead keyboardist to pass away prematurely. (Mydland replaced Keith Godchaux (see 1980) who had replaced Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (see 1973).) The Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. "St. Stephen," "Truckin,'" "Touch of Grey"
- John Whitehead
- murdered at age 55 in 2004. He was working on a vehicle when two men approached and opened fire; he was shot in the neck and killed. Whitehead and Gene McFadden (see 2006) formed The Epsilons, and scored hits with "The Echo" and 1979's "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." The Epsilons toured with Otis Redding, and McFadden and Whitehead wrote the O'Jays' "Backstabbers" and Harold Melvin (see 1997) & the Blues Notes' "Wake Up Everybody."
- Kevin Wilkinson
- suicide in 1999. Wilkinson was the drummer for Squeeze and for The Waterboys. His body was found after he hanged himself in his home. He was 41. With Squeeze: "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)," "Tempted," "Goodbye Girl"
- Larry Williams
- gunshot wound. He was 54. Williams had been involved in criminal activity since his teens. In 1980, 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"
- *Paul Williams
- self-inflicted gunshot wound; 1973. He was 34. Williams was a founding member of the Temptations, but was plagued by alcoholism. (Founding member, Elbridge Bryant, died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1975. He had been replaced within the group in 1963 by David Ruffin, who overdosed on cocaine in 1991. Eddie Kendricks succumbed to lung cancer in 1992 and Melvin Franklin died after a seizure in 1995.) The Temptations were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and both the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1999. "The Way You Do The Things You Do," "My Girl," "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"
- Wendy O. Williams
- shot herself in 1998. The Plasmatics, infamous for chainsaws, blowing up cars, and startegically-placed masking tape. Wiliams was 48. "Living Dead"
- Al "Blind Owl" Wilson
- suicide in 1970. Wilson was the vocalist, harmonica player, and one of thr original members of Canned Heat, along with Bob "The Bear" Hite (see 1981) and Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (see 1997)." Wilson overdosed on tranquilizers (reportedly in the back yard of Hite) when he found out he couldn't save a redwood forest from being leveled by a timber company. He was 27. "Going Up Country," "Let's Work Together," "Time Was," "Boogie Music," "On the Road Again"
- 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. In 1980, 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"
- Mia Zapata
- strangled and raped in 1993. Singer for The Gits, a seminal Seattle band, she was 27. According to the medical examiner, if she had not been strangled she would have died from the internal injuries suffered from the beating. After her murder, friends formed Home Alive, a self-defense group. Zapata's case was aired on the nationally broadcast television program, "Unsolved Mysteries." It wasn't until 2004 that Jesus C. Mezquia was identified as her killer and sentenced to 36 years in prison. Albums: Frenching the Bully and Enter: The Conquering Chicken.
Badfinger: Mike Gibbins (d. 2005),
Pete Ham (d. 1975), Tom Evans (d. 1983), & Joey Molland
Badfinger: Mike Gibbins (d. 2005),
Pete Ham (d. 1975), Tom Evans (d. 1983), & Joey Molland
The King of Pop; Jackson's casket arriving at the morgue.
Jam Master Jay
John Lennon; Lennon signing a copy of Double Fantasy for Mark David Chapman.
Milli Vanilli: Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan
"The Singing Nun"
The Epsilons: John Whitehead & Gene McFadden
The Temptations, 1964-68: David Ruffin (d. 1991), Paul Williams (d. 1973),
Eddie Kendricks (d. 1992), Melvin Franklin (d. 1995), & Otis Williams (clockwise from bottom left).
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).