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The Death of Rock: The Chronology

The Seventies

Artists are listed alphabetically within year of demise. Feel free to scroll, or click the year you wish to view and skip ahead.

Key

Some 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.

Early Seventies

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, after a tour of duty in Vietnam. No exact cause (suicide, accident or murder) or date of death could be found, and Gannon's age at death is unknown.

1970

Slim Harpo
(James Moore), heart attack. He was 46. "Baby, Scratch My Back," "Shake Your Hips," "I'm a King Bee"

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and Noel Redding

*Jimi Hendrix
(born Johnny Allen Hendrix, his father changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix when he was 4 years old), aspiration of vomit while sleeping after ingesting alcohol and sleeping pills. Sources are saying Hendrix's death was actually a homicide; read about Hendrix's murder by his manager. Hendrix was 27 and an established guitar legend. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Hendrix the greatest guitarist of all time. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with Noel Redding (see 2003) and Mitch Mitchell (2008; natural causes at age 61), were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady," "Manic Depression"

Janis Joplin

"Pearl"

*Janis Joplin
heroin overdose in 1970; "Pearl" was 27. Blues legend Bessie Smith (see 1937) lay in an unmarked grave for 33 years, until Joplin and Juanita Green, Smith’s former maid and later a chapter-head of the NAACP, donated money for a headstone. "Pearl" was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. "Me and Bobby McGee," "Piece of My Heart," "Summertime," "Mercedes Benz"

James "Shep" Sheppard
murdered. 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"

Tammi Terrell

Tammi Terrell

Tammi Terrell
brain tumor; 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"

Canned Heat

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).

Al "Blind Owl" Wilson
suicide. 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"

Allman Brothers

The Allman Brothers Band circa 1970: Jai Johanny Johanson ("Jaimoe"), Berry Oakley (d. 1972),

Duane Allman (d. 1971), Butch Trucks (d. 2017), Gregg Allman (d. 2017), and Dickey Betts

*Duane Allman
(Howard Duane Allman), motorcycle accident. He was 24. Fellow band mate, Berry Oakley, would die under similar circumstances a year later, only a few blocks away. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Allman one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #2). Allman was the guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. "Ramblin' Man," "Midnight Rider," "Melissa"

1971

Arlester "Dyke" Christian
shot to death. 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)

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"

The Shangri-Las

The Shangri-Las: Mary Ann Ganser (d. 1971), Betty Weiss, Marge Ganser (d. 1996), and Mary Weiss

Mary Ann Ganser
encephalitis; she was 23. (Some sources report the cause of death as a drug overdose.) Member of girl group, The Shangri-Las. Her twin sister and band mate, Marge, would be stricken with breast cancer and pass away in 1996. "Leader Of The Pack," "Remember Walking In the Sand," "Give Him a Great Big Kiss"

Jim Morrison space saver Jim Morrison

"The Lizard King"

space saver
*Jim Morrison
(James Douglas Morrison), unknown. Morrison was found dead in his bathtub while living in Paris in 1971. The official cause of death was myocardial infarction (heart attack). Some speculate that he actually succumbed to some type of drug (heroin or cocaine) and/or alcohol overdose. Others believe "The Lizard King" still lives. Morrison was lead singer of The Doors and a published poet; he was 27 at the time of his death. The Doors were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. (Keyboardist Ray Manzarek died in 2013 of bile duct cancer; he was 74.) "Riders on the Storm," "Hello, I Love You," "The End," "Light My Fire"

Interesting aside: In 1967, The Doors were booked to play three shows in San Francisco, headlined by soul singer Otis Redding. Redding was killed two weeks before the scheduled performances. (Visit Redding's Tribute.) Morrison paid tribute to the fallen singer during the first performance and again in The Doors' song "Runnin' Blue": "Poor Otis, dead and gone, left me here to sing his song..."

2007 - Update: Sources (including Morrison's close friend, Sam Sernett) are surfacing, stating that Morrison actually overdosed on heroin in a Paris nightclub bathroom and was quietly moved to his apartment where the bathtub death scene was staged.

Gene Vincent

Gene Vincent, circa 1957 (unknown photographer, Rolling Stone Images of Rock & Roll).

*Gene Vincent
(Eugene Vincent Craddock), internal bleeding from a ruptured stomach ulcer; 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'"

1972

Brian Cole
drug overdose. He was 29. Member of the group, The Association, who were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003. "Never My Love," "Cherish," "Windy," "Along Comes Mary"

Clyde McPhatter

Clyde McPhatter

*Clyde McPhatter
liver, kidney, and heart failure at the age of 38. McPhatter was the original lead singer with The Drifters before going solo. McPhatter was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist (1987) and the Rockabilliy Hall of Fame. With the The Drifters, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Vocal Hall of Fame (1998). The song, "Money Honey," was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and McPhatter was pictured on a U.S. postage stamp in 1993. Read about McPhatter's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly. With The Drifters: "Honey Love," "Money Honey," "Such a Night," "Lucille." As a solo artist: "Treasure of Love," "A Lover’s Question," "Little Bitty Pretty One," "Lover Please"

Bill Murcia
accidental drug overdose; in an effort to revive him, he was placed in a bathtub and forced to drink coffee. He died of asphyxiation at the age of 21. Original drummer for The New York Dolls, he was replaced by Jerry Nolan (see 1992). Murcia and Nolan were two of four band members who would die prematurely, the other two being Johnny Thunders (see 1991) and Arthur "Killer" Kane (see 2004). "Personality Crisis," "Frankenstein"

Allman Brothers

The Allman Brothers Band circa 1970: Jai Johanny Johanson ("Jaimoe"), Berry Oakley (d. 1972),

Duane Allman (d. 1971), Butch Trucks (d. 2017), Gregg Allman (d. 2017), and Dickey Betts

*Berry Oakley
(Raymond Berry Oakley), motorcycle accident; he was 24. Oakley played bass in the Allman Brothers Band, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. His motorcycle accident eerily mirrored that of Duane Allman a year before, and occurred only a few blocks away. Oakley refused medical treatment at the scene of the accident and later died from a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage. Oakley was replaced by Lamar Williams (see 1983), who was then replaced by Allen Woody (see 2000). "Ramblin' Man," "Midnight Rider," "Melissa"

Bobby Ramirez
murdered. 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"

David Seville

David Seville and The Chipmunks

David Seville
(Ross Bagdasarian), heart attack. He was 52. Bagdasarian co-wrote "Come on-a My House" (with cousin William Saroyan). As David Seville and The Chipmunks (Alvin, Simon, and Theodore), he had a #1 hit with "Witch Doctor." "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)"

Rory Storm
(Alan Caldwell), overdose. He was 34. Storm fronted The Hurricanes with Johnny Guitar (see 1999) and future Beatle Ringo Starr. He and his mother ingested sleeping pills in a double suicide after the death of his father. "Dr. Feelgood," "America"

1973

Jim Croce

Jim Croce

Jim Croce
(James Joseph Croce), plane crash in Louisiana. The Beechcraft D-18 that Croce had chartered snagged the top of some pecan trees during take-off and crashed, one day before the release of his third album, I Got A Name. Croce was 30. In 1990, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Visit the Archive's Tribute to Jim Croce. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "You Don't Mess Around with Jim," "I Got A Name," "I'll Have to Say I Love You In A Song," "Time in a Bottle" (The latter three songs were released posthumously.)

Bobby Darin

Bobby Darin

*Bobby Darin
(Walden Robert Cassotto), complications during heart surgery to repair a faulty valve. As a child, Darin had rheumatic fever, which left him with a weakened heart. He was one of the original bubblegum crooners, and was married to America's sweetheart, Sandra Dee. (Dee died in 2005.) When Darin was 32, he found out that his older sister was actually his mother; the woman he believed to be his mother was actually his grandmother. Darin won a Grammy for "Mack the Knife," which spent nine weeks at number one. He was 37 when he died. Darin was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. (Read about Darin's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly.) "Splish Splash," "Dream Lover," "Beyond the Sea"

Roger Lee Durham
fall from a horse; he was 27. Durham was a member of Bloodstone, with Willis Draffen (see 2002). Durham was an airman in Vietnam; he is buried in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery (Kansas). "Natural High," "Never Let You Go," "Outside Woman," "My Little Lady"

Mike Furber
suicide. 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. He was 24. "That's When the Happiness Began," "Just a Poor Boy"

Ron

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan

*Ron "Pigpen" McKernan
liver failure due to alcohol abuse; he was 27. Keyboardist for the Grateful Dead, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. McKernan was the first of four Grateful Dead keyboardists to die prematurely. He was succeeded by Keith Godchaux (see 1980), Brent Mydland (see 1990), and Vince Welnick (see 2006). "Truckin'," "St. Stephen," "Casey Jones," "Friend of the Devil"

*Gram Parsons
drug toxicity (1973); he was 26. Parsons was a member of the Byrds (with Gene Clark, see 1991, and Michael Clarke, see 1993). Parsons had stated that he wanted his body cremated at Joshua Tree National Monument (CA) and his ashes spread over Cap Rock. But Parson's stepfather had arranged for a private ceremony in New Orleans. So to honor Parsons's wishes, music producer, Phil Kaufman, and a friend stole his body, borrowed a hearse, and drove to Joshua Tree. They then proceeded to pour five gallons of gasoline into the open coffin, followed by a lit match - creating a huge fireball. They were arrested and fined $750 ($700?) for stealing the coffin. Earlier that year, Parsons sang "Farther Along" at Clarence White's funeral service and created his final song, "In My Hour of Darkness," as a partial tribute to him. White had replaced Parsons in The Byrds when Parsons quit the group in 1968. The Byrds were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. "Turn, Turn, Turn," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Eight Miles High"

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, 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.)

Allan Sherman
respiratory ailments; he was 48. Sherman recorded the novelty tune, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh."

*Clarence White
(Clarence LeBlanc), hit and run. White was the guitarist for the Kentucky Colonels and for the Byrds, with Gene Clark (see 1991) and Michael Clarke (see 1991). (White joined after Gram Parsons, who also died in 1973, left the group in 1968.) White was loading equipment into his car following a Kentucky Colonels gig when a drunk driver struck and killed him. Gram Parsons sang "Farther Along" at White's funeral service and created his final song, "In My Hour of Darkness," as a partial tribute to him. White was 29. The Byrds were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. "Turn, Turn, Turn," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Eight Miles High"

The Temptations

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).

*Paul Williams
self-inflicted gunshot wound. 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"

1974

Bobby Bloom
accidental gunshot wound. He was 28. "Montego Bay," "Heavy Makes You Happy"

Chase

The band, Chase.

Chase
a promising jazz-rock ensemble, founded by trumpeter Bill Chase. While leaving Texas for an appearance in Minnesota, Chase (age 39), his drummer Walter Clark (age 25), guitarist John Emma (age 22), and keyboardist Wally Yohn (age 27) were killed when their plane crashed. The cause was sited as pilot error and poor radio communication. View the National Transportation and Safety Board Report. "Get It On"

The Mamas and the Papas

The Mamas & The Papas: Denny Doherty (d. 2007),

Cass Elliot (d. 1974), John Phillips (d. 2001), and Michelle Phillips.

*"Mama" Cass Elliott
(Ellen Naomi Cohen), heart attack while staying at Harry Nilsson's (see 1994) flat. (Keith Moon would die in this same apartment, in 1978.) She was 32. Elliot was a member of The Mamas and The Papas, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000. John Phillips would pass away from heart failure in 2001 (age 65) and Denny Doherty after a brief illness in 2007 (age 66). Read about Cass's connection to the Curse of Harry Nilsson. "California Dreamin’," "Monday Monday," "I Saw Her Again Last Night," "Go Where You Wanna Go," "Creque Alley"

Nick Drake

Nick Drake

Nick Drake
(Nicholas Rodney Drake), anti-depressant overdose; 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"

Robbie McIntosh
drug overdose. McIntosh was the drummer for the Average White Band. While attending a party, McIntosh inhaled what he thought was cocaine; it was actually heroin laced with strychnine. He was 24. The Average White Band: "Pick Up the Pieces," "Cut the Cake," "A Love of Your Own"

Vinnie Taylor
(Chris Donald), heroin overdose; 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"

1975

*David Michael Alexander
pulmonary edema. He was 27. "Zander" was the original bassist for The Stooges (featuring punk icon, Iggy Pop). Zander died of pulmonary edema in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after being admitted to a hospital for pancreatitis, probably caused by his excessive drinking. (Stooges guitarist, Ron Asheton, died of a heart attack in 2009. Original drummer, Scott Asheton, died of an undisclosed illness in 2014 at age 64.) The Stooges were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "Fun House," "Dirt"

*Elbridge "Al" Bryant
cirrhosis of the liver. He was 36. Bryant was a founding member of The Temptations. Because of his unreliablilty and volatile behvior (due to alcohol) and/or his frustration with the band's lack of success, Bryant's behavior became intolerable. In 1963, Bryant and fellow Temptation, Paul Williams (suicide; see 1973), had an argument that culminated with Bryant smashing a beer bottle across Williams's face; Williams had to be hospitalized. Bryant was replaced by David Ruffin (cocaine overdose; see 1991). Two other former Temps are recognized in The Archive: Eddie Kendricks, who succumbed to lung cancer in 1992, and Melvin Franklin, who 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," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"

Tim Buckley
heroin overdose. He was 28. Musician and father of Jeff Buckley (see 1997).

Badfinger

Badfinger: Mike Gibbins (d. 2005),

Pete Ham (d. 1975), Tom Evans (d. 1983), & Joey Molland

Pete Ham
hanging (suicide). 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)"

*Al Jackson
murdered; 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"

Leroy McNeil
stabbed. McNeil was a member of The Nutmegs, a doo-wop/R&B vocal group. McNeil was fatally stabbed during an argument. He was 36. (Fellow Nutmeg, Leroy Griffin, was also murdered, in 1966.) "Story Untold," "Ship of Love"

The Miami Showband: Brian McCoy, Fran O'Toole, Des Lee,

Stephen Travers (top), Ray Miller (bottom), Tony Geraghty.

Miami Showband
ambushed; several members murdered. The Miami Showband were wildly successful throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, considered the "Irish Beatles." During The Troubles, five of the band members were stopped at a checkpoint when returning from a show in Northern Ireland. A group of men, members of the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force, a Northern Irish paramilitary group) and the Ulster Defence Regiment, with suspected ties to the British government, escorted the band members from their bus. It was bombed and the musicians were shot. The Miami Showband Massacre, as it came to be called, took the lives of Brian McCoy (age 32), Fran O'Toole (age 28) and Tony Geraghty (age 24). Des Lee and Stephen Travers sustained serious injuries. "Clap Your Hands and Stomp Your Feet," "Dance in the Old Fashioned Way," "There Won't Be Anymore"

Gary Thain
heroin overdose; 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’"

1976

Florence Ballard

The Supremes: Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Diana Ross

*Florence Ballard
cardiac arrest; she was 32. Ballard was one of the original Supremes, leaving the group in 1967. The proto-type for girl groups, the Supremes set a record for the most consecutive #1 hits (5) by an American group in 1965 (at the height of the "British Invasion.") The Supremes were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. "Where Did Our Love Go," "Come See About Me," "Stop! In the Name of Love," "You Can’t Hurry Love," "I Hear a Symphony"

Tommy Bolin
drug overdose; he was 25. Bolin replaced Ritchie Blackmore as guitarist for Deep Purple. "Smoke On the Water"

Chris Kenner
heart attack. He was 57. Kenner scored a hit in 1961 with "I Like It Like That." In 1968 he was convicted of statutory rape and spent three years in Louisiana's Angola prison. His writing credits include "Land of 1,000 Dances," "Something You Got," "Sick and Tired" and "Rocket to the Moon."

Paul Kosoff
heart attack resultant of drug abuse; he was 25. Kossoff was the guitarist for Free. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #51). "All Right Now"

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 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"

John Persh
(John Parrish), staph infection at the age of 34 (1976). Persh played bass, trombone, and sang vocals for rock/soul group, Rare Earth. Fellow band members Mark Olson died of chronic alcohol consumption (1991), and Eddie Guzman succumbed to complications of diabetes (1993). "I Just Want to Celebrate," "Hey, Big Brother," and covers of The Temptations' "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and "Get Ready"

*Rudy Pompilli
(Rudolph Clement Pompilii), lung cancer at the age of 51. Pompilli was the tenor saxophonist for Bill Haley and His Comets. The group was immortalized by their wildly popular, early rock single, "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock." The song held the #1 spot for eight weeks, was used on the soundtracks of the motion pictures "The Blackboard Jungle" (1955) and "American Graffiti" (1974), and was chosen as the theme for the 1970s' television series "Happy Days." Pompilli was named Sax Player of the Year by Down Beat magazine in 1957. In 2012, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by a special committee, when the band failed to originally be inducted with Bill Haley in 1987. When Haley returned to touring after Pompilli's death, he would dedicate a part of every show to Pompilli with a performance of "Rudy's Rock." (Haley died of a heart attack in 1981 at the age of 55. In 1954, Comet Danny Cedrone fell down a flight of stairs, breaking his neck. He was 33. Fellow Comet, Marshall Lytle, succumbed to lung cancer in 2013. He ws 79.) "Rocket 88," "Crazy, Man, Crazy"

*Keith Relf
electrocution; he was 33. Relf was the lead singer for the Yardbirds, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and he founded the band Armageddon. He was electrocuted when the electric guitar he was playing was not properly grounded. "For Your Love," "Over Under Sideways Down"

1977

*Marc Bolan
(Marc Feld), car accident. T-Rex; he was 29. Bolan and his girlfriend Gloria Jones were out clubbing when she crashed their car into a tree. Jones was seriously injured; Bolan died. Four other members of T-Rex, Steve Peregrin Took (see 1980) and Steve Currie (see 1981), Mickey Finn (see 2003), and "Dino" Dines (see 2004) would also die prematurely. T-Rex was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. Read about Bolan's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly. "Bang a Gong (Get it On)," "Hot Love," "Telegram Sam," "Metal Guru"

Shirley Brickley
shot to death. 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"

*Sherman Garnes
died during surgery. Garnes was the bass in the vocal group, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. He died while on the operating table for open heart surgery; he was 36. Within ten years, three members of the group would be dead: Garnes, Frankie Lymon (see 1968) and Joey Negroni (see 1978). Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000. "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" "I Want You to Be My Girl," "Who Can Explain?"

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd, circa 1977:

Standing, back: Allen Collins (d. 1990).

Middle row: Leon Wilkeson (d. 2001), Billy Powell (d. 2009), Artimus Pyle, Gary Rossington, Steve Gaines (d. 1977).

Sitting: Ronnie Van Zant (d. 1977).

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Cassie Gaines

Cassie Gaines

Cassie Gaines
plane crash in Mississippi (1977); she was 29. Cassie was one of The Honkettes, the backing vocalists for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, Cassie’s brother, guitarist Steve 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. (The Honkettes were not included in the induction.) Visit the Archive's Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute. "Free Bird," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Gimme Three Steps," "Simple Man"

Steve Gaines

Steve Gaines

*Steve Gaines
plane crash in Mississippi (1977); he was 28. Steve was a guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, 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"

Ronnie Van Zant

Ronnie Van Zant

*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"

*William Powell
cancer. Powell was a member of the R&B vocalists, the O-Jays, who were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. Powell was 35 when he died. "Back Stabbers," "Love Train," "Use Ta Be My Girl"

Elvis space saver Presley

"The King"

*#Elvis Presley
drug overdose in 1977; he was 42. Actor in over 30 films and the "King of Rock and Roll." Presley was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998, the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He was also honored on a United States postage stamp. Possibly the most-imitated entertainer in history. Read about the King's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly, or the auction of Elvis's crypt. "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," "Can't Help Falling in Love," "Suspicious Minds"

1978

Chris Bell
automobile crash; it is speculated that Bell may have been high when he drove straight into a telephone pole. Singer and guitarist for Big Star, which he co-founded with Alex Chilton (heart attack, 2010) and Andy Hummel (cancer, 2010). He was 27. "Thirteen," "September Gurls," "I Am the Cosmos" (as a solo artist)

Sandy Denny

Sandy Denny

Sandy Denny
head injuries sustained during a fall. Denny suffered postnatal drug/alcohol withdrawal and depression. Her husband left a few months later with their daughter, and while intoxicated, she fell down a flight of stairs. Ignoring her headaches and injuries, she died a few days later. Denny was 31. "No More Sad Refrains," co-vocalist on Led Zeppelin’s "Battle of Evermore"

Claude Francois

Claude Francois

Claude Francois
"Clo Clo", electrocution. Considered the French Elvis, several female fans committed suicide upon news of his death. After finishing a shower, Francois noticed that the light bulb in the socket hanging above him was burned out. With his feet still in the water, he reached up to change the bulb and was instantly electrocuted. He was 39. "Belles, Belles, Belles"

*Glenn Lamont Goins
systemic disorder; he was 24. Goins was a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Goins would later be joined by fellow band members, Eddie Hazel (1992) and Garry Shider (2010). "Flash Light," "One Nation Under a Groove," "Aqua Boogie," "(Not Just) Knee Deep"

Gregory Herbert
heroin overdose; he was 31. Herbert was a jazz saxophonist and played briefly with Blood, Sweat and Tears: "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel," "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know"

Terry Kath
accidental suicide. 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," "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?"

Keith Moon

Keith Moon

*Keith Moon
drug overdose; he was 32. Moon was the drummer for The Who. On the eve of his death, he previewed The Buddy Holly Story and dined with his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax, and Paul and Linda McCartney. Moon and Walter-Lax returned to a flat owned by Harry Nilsson (heart failure, 1994, age 52) where "Mama" Cass Elliot had died four years earlier (heart failure, age 32). He supposedly woke up at 7:30 on the morning of the seventh, and returned to bed. At 3:40 pm, Walter-Lax tried to wake him, but he was unresponsive. At some point during the previous night or that morning, he had ingested 32 tablets of Clomethiazole (Heminevrin), a sedative prescribed for alcohol withdrawal. Keith Moon was dead of a prescription drug overdose. The Who (including bassist John Entwistle, see 2002), were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Read about Moon's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly and the Curse of Harry Nilsson. "Baba O'Reilly," "Pinball Wizard," "Behind Blue Eyes"

*Joey Negroni
cerebral brain hemorrhage. Negroni was the baritone in the vocal group, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. He had a brain tumor that was discovered too late and he died of cerebral hemorrhaging. He was 38. Within ten years, three members of the group would be dead: Negroni, Frankie Lymon (see 1968) and Sherman Garnes (see 1977). Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000. "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" "I Want You to Be My Girl," "Who Can Explain?"

Johnny O'Keefe

Johnny O'Keefe

Johnny O'Keefe
heart attack caused by an accidental overdose of prescription medication. He was 43. O'Keefe was the Australian King of Rock & Roll, and the first Australian to chart (with the hit, "I'm The Wild One"). He opened for Bill Haley (see 1981) and later appeared on the Lee Gordon Tour in 1958 with Paul Anka and Buddy Holly (see 1959). In 1998, O'Keefe was honored on an Australian postage stamp. Read about O'Keefe's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly. "Shout," "She's My Baby," "It's Too Late," "I’m Counting On You," "Move Baby Move," "She Wears My Ring"

Frank Rosolino
suicide. 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.

1979

Dorsey Burnette
heart attack. He was 46. Dorsey and his brother, Johnny (see 1964), enjoyed success as '60s teen idols. Burnette was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. "There Was A Tall Oak Tree," "Hey Little One"

Lowell George
heart attack at the age of 34. George was a slide guitarist who left The Mothers of Invention to form Little Feat. With Little Feat: "Dixie Chicken," "Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor," "Spanish Moon"

Donny Hathaway

Donny Hathaway

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). 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.

Van McCoy
heart attack at age 39. Songwriter and producer. Most widely-known for his instrumental, "The Hustle."

Jimmy McCulloch
heroin overdose, age 26. McCulloch played lead guitar in Paul McCartney's Wings (which also featured MSir Paul's wife, Linda Eastman McCartney - see 1998). "Band on the Run," "With a Little Luck," "Listen to What the Man Said"

Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus
Lou Gehrig's disease; he was 56. Mingus was a legendary jazz composer and bassist who suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). He worked and/or performed with Charlie Parker (see 1955), Dizzy Gillespie, and Duke Ellington. "Fable of Faubus," "If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copy Cats" (renamed to "Gunslinging Bird"), "Better Git It in Your Soul"

Minnie Riperton
breast cancer; she was 31. Riperton was originally part of the singing group the Gems, who provided background vocals for artists including Etta James and the Dells. Her 1975 single, "Lovin' You," went to #1 in the US (#2 in the UK). Also in 1975, Riperton was attacked by the lion displayed on the cover of her album, "Adventures in Paradise"; she avoided serious injury. Riperton recorded with Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Quincy Jones, and others. "Young, Willing, and Able," "Can You Feel What I'm Saying?"

Sid Vicious

Sid Vicious

*Sid Vicious
(John Simon Ritchie), heroin overdose. 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"