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The Death of Rock: The Alphabetical Archive

R and S

Musicians are listed individually. Search by the artist's last name. Artists commonly referred to by a stage or street name (such as "The Big Bopper," Freddie Mercury, and Jam Master Jay) are listed under those names. Musicians who performed under a single name (like Aaliyah, Nico, and Selena) will be found under those single names. There are a few instances where two or more members of the same band perished in a single incident; you will find those artists listed under the group's name. (Examples are Banda Fugaz, The Bar-Kays, Chase, Passion Fruit, and The Reba McEntire Band.) One notable exception to this rule is Lynyrd Skynyrd. Members of Skynyrd are listed individually; although three perished in the 1977 plane crash, others have since died in unrelated incidents. (The three who died in the crash are grouped as "Lynyrd Skynyrd" on the Causes of Death and Chronology pages.)

Feel free to scroll, or click the letter 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.

R

Eddie Rabbitt

Eddie Rabbitt

Eddie Rabbitt
lung cancer; he was 56. Rabbit was a country singer who scored several crossover hits in the early 1980s. He died in 1998. "I Love A Rainy Night," "Drivin' My Life Away"

Carl Radle
kidney infection (1980) as a result of long-term alcohol and drug abuse. Radle was the bassist for Derek and the Dominos, George Harrison (see 2001), and Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen. He was 37. Radle was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey

*^Ma Rainey
(Gertrude Pridgett), heart attack in 1939 at the age of 53. Rainey was "Mother of the Blues." She was the first woman to incorporate blues into vaudeville, minstrel and tent shows, and it is believed that she coached a young Bessie Smith (see 1937) while touring with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Rainey was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. "C.C. Rider," "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "Broken Hearted Blues"

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"

*Dee Dee Ramone
(Douglas Colvin), drug overdose in 2002. He was 49. Bassist for The Ramones. All three founding members would die within four years of one another. Punk pioneers, The Ramones were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Teenage Lobotomy"

The Ramones

The Ramones: Johnny, Dee Dee, Joey & Marky

*Joey Ramone
(Jeffrey Hyman), lymphoma, 2001; he was 49. Vocalist for The Ramones. All three founding members would die within four years of one another. (Dee Dee Ramone would die the following year from a drug overdose and Johnny Ramone would succumb to prostate cancer in 2004.) Punk pioneers, The Ramones were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Teenage Lobotomy"

*Johnny Ramone
(John Cummings), prostate cancer (2004); he was 55. Guitarist for the Ramones. All three founding members would die within four years of one another. (Joey Ramone died in 2001 from lymphoma and Dee Dee Ramone in 2002 from a drug overdose.) In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Johnny Ramone one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #16). Punk pioneers, The Ramones were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Teenage Lobotomy"

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.

Jay Reatard
(Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr.), died in 2010; cause of death unknown. Reatard was a prolific garage/punk musician, who released albums with The Reatards, The Lost Sounds, Bad Times, The Final Solutions, Angry Angles, Terror Visions, and Destruction Unit. Reatard also released numerous singles and two albums (Blood Visions and Watch Me Fall) as a solo artist. Reatard was discovered dead in his bed by a roommate. Friends reported that he had previously been complaining of flu-like symptoms. He was 29.

The Reba McEntire Band
On 15 March 1991, country crooner Reba McEntire finished a show in California. While she decided to stay the night in San Diego, her band piled into two Hawker-Siddeley planes destined for Indiana. Unfortunatley, one of the aircraft slammed into a mountain moments after take-off. On board were Chris Autin (vocals, guitar, mandolin), age 27; Kirk Capello (keyboards), age 28; Joey Cigainero (synthesizer), age 27; Paula Kaye Evans (vocals), age 33; Terry Jackson (bass), age 28; Tony Saputo (drums), age 34; Michael Thomas (guitar), age 34; Jim Hammond (road manager), age 40; and two others, including the pilot. View the National Transportation and Safety Board report which includes photos of the musicians. McEntire dedicated her 1991 album, From My Broken Heart, to the fallen musicians.

The Jimi Hendrix Expwerience

Mitch Mitchell (d. 2008), Jimi Hendrix (d. 1970) and Noel Redding (d. 2003).

*Noel Redding
cirrhosis of the liver (2003). He was 57. Redding was the bassist for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Jimi Hendrix (see 1970) died from aspiration of vomit while under the influence and drummer Mitch Mitchell died in 2008 at age 61 from apparently natural causes. "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady," "Crosstown Traffic"

Otis Redding

Otis Redding

*Otis Redding
drowned and/or froze to death when his plane crashed into Lake Monona in Wisconsin during 1967; he was 26. All but one member of Redding's backing band, The Bar-Kays, also perished. Redding was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Visit the Archive's Tribute to Otis Redding. "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" released posthumously, "These Arms of Mine," "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)," "That's How Strong My Love Is"

Jim Reeves space saver Reeves's memorial

Jim Reeves; Reeves's memorial.

#Jim Reeves
plane crash in 1964. He was 40. Reeves was a popular country artist who enjoyed cross-over success. He and his manager, Dean Manuel, were killed when the small aircraft Reeves was piloting crashed during a thunderstorm near Nashville. He had been a pallbearer at singer Jack Anglin's funeral, 18 months earlier. (Anglin was killed in a car crash on his way to Patsy Cline's funeral; she perished in a plane crash - with Cowboy Cowpas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cline's manager/Copas's son-in-law, Randy Hughes - leaving a benefit for the widow of "Cactus" Jack Call, who died in an automobile accident - all in 1963.) Reeves was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967 and the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998. "He'll Have To Go," "Welcome to My World," "Am I Losing You," "Adios Amigo" Jim Reeves is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens, Goodlettsville, Tennessee (along with Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Randy Hughes and Jack Anglin). The inscription on his memorial reads, "If I, a lowly singer, dry one tear, or soothe one humble human heart in pain, then my homely verse to God is dear, and not one stanza has been sung in vain."

Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt
(Jean Baptiste Reinhardt), brain hemorrhage. He was 43. Reinhardt was a French Gypsy (Manouche). After surviving a house (caravan) fire which disfigured two of his fingers, he created a revolutionary technique for fingering guitar. He formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. In 1953, he suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage. "Tiger Rag," "I Saw Stars," "Minor Swing," "Belleville," "Nuages"

*Keith Relf
electrocution in 1976; 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"

Randy Rhoads space saver Rhoad's mausoleum

Randy Rhoads
(Randall William Rhoads), airplane crash in 1982. Andrew Aycock, the band's tourbus driver, took Rhoads and Rachel Youngblood up in a 1955 Beechcraft Bonanza F-35 for kicks, buzzing the band's tour bus. The plane's wing clipped the vehicle and crashed into a nearby house. All three were killed; Rhoads was 25. He founded Quiet Riot with Kevin DuBrow (see 2007) and later gained celebrity as Ozzy Osbourne's lead guitarist. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #85). "Crazy Train," "Revelation (Mother Earth)," "Suicide Solution"

Greg Ridley
succumbed to pneumonia in 2003. He was 56. Ridley was the bassist and co-founder of Humble Pie. “Black Coffee,” “30 Days in the Hole,” “I Don't Need No Doctor,” “Natural Born Bugie"

Minnie Riperton
breast cancer (1979); 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?"

#Marty Robbins
(Martin David Robinson), heart attack in 1982. He was 57. Robbins was a popular singer/songwriter who recorded various styles of music, from country-western to Hawaiian to gospel to pop. Robbins was inducted into the Country Hall of Fame in 1982. "A White Sports Coat (and a Pink Carnation)," "El Paso," "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife," "You Gave Me a Mountain"

Matt Roberts
former lead guitarist and backing vocalist (1996-2012) for 3 Doors Down. His cause of death in 2016 is unknown; he was 38. Roberts was a founding member of the group. "Kryptonite," "When I'm Gone," "Here Without You"

Vicki Sue Robinson
cancer. She was 45. Disco diva who appeared on Broadway in "Hair," "Soon", and "Jesus Christ Superstar". Session vocalist and solo artist, famous for her club hit, "Turn the Beat Around."

Mick Ronson
Michael Ronson), liver cancer in 1993. He was 46. Ronson was a guitarist heavily associated with glam rock. He played with David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, and Lou Reed (appearing on Reed's album, Transformer). Ronson was named the 64th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003. Albums with Bowie: The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Aladdin Sane, and Pin Ups. Solo albums: Slaughter in 10th Avenue, Play Don't Worry, and Heaven and Hull (which was released posthumously).

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.

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).

*David Ruffin
found at the emergency entrance of a Philadelphia hospital, dead of a cocaine overdose in 1991. Ruffin sang tenor for the Temptations, replacing Elbridge Bryant in 1963. (Bryant died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1975, Paul Williams committed suicide in 1973, Eddie Kendricks succumbed to lung cancer in 1992 and Melvin Franklin died after a seizure in 1995.) Ruffin was 50 at the time of his death. 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"

David "Chico" Ryan
cause of death undisclosed; age 50 (1998). Member of New Jersey's The Happenings and bassist for nostalgic "Greaser" band, Sha Na Na (with Vinnie Taylor, see 1974). Appeared with Sha Na Na in the 1978 movie, Grease, and on the band's hit television series (1977-81). With The Happenings: "See You in September," "I Got Rhythm." With Sha Na Na: "Good Night, Sweetheart"

S

Doug Sahm
heart attack (1999) at age 57. Sahm was the leader of the Sir Douglas Quintet. "She's About A Mover," "The Rains Came," "Mendocino"

Kyu Sakamoto

Kyu Sakamoto

Kyu Sakamoto
(Hisashi Oshima), plane crash in 1985. He was 43. Sakamoto was the first Japanese artist to have a number one hit in the United States with "Sukiyaki" (1963). He was ranked number 18 in a list of Japan's top 100 influential musicians by HMV. Sakamoto was killed when JAL Flight 123 lost pieces of its tail sections, spiraled downward for 30 minutes, and crashed on a thickly wooded mountain about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo. Five hundred and twenty people were killed and four were injured in the worst single airplane disaster in aviation history. You can read a detailed account of the crash with photos of the aircraft - during breakup - and Sakamoto's final resting place.

Gar Samuelson
liver failure in 1999. He was 41. Samuelson was the drummer for thrash-metal band, Megadeth, from 1984-1987. He formed Fatal Opera in the mid-1990s. Albums with Megadeth: Killing is My Business...And Business is Good! and Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? With Fatal Opera: Fatal Opera and Eleventh Hour.

Mark Sandman
heart attack in 1999, at the age of 47. Sandman was lead of the Boston-based Morphine. He collapsed on stage in Rome, dead of a massive heart attack. "In Spite of Me," "Cure for Pain," "Honey White"

Pattie Santos

Pattie Santos

Pattie Santos
(Patricia Dora Santos), automobile accident in 1989. She was 40. Santos was the lead singer for psychedelic rock band, It's A Beautiful Day. The group's eponymous debut album reached number 47 on the US charts. It is speculated that Santos was drunk driving when she failed to negotiate a curve in the road and slammed into a tree (then a fence, followed by another tree). "White Bird," "Time Is," "Hot Summer Day," "Bombay Calling"

Stefanie Sargent
heroin overdose in 1992; she was 22. Sargent was the guitarist for Seven Year Bitch, an all-female band from Seattle's early-'90s grunge scene. Sargent abused alcohol and heroin, choking on her own vomit. From Sick 'Em: "Tired of Nothing," "You Smell Lonely," "Dead Men Don't Rape"

Clarence "Satch" Satchell
aneurysm (1995); he was 55. Satchell was the saxophonist and flautist for The Ohio Players, popular for their 1970s dance hits, such as "Love Rollercoaster," "Funky Worm," and "Fire." (Fellow Ohio Player Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks passed away in 1996.)

John Baker Saunders
heroin overdose. He was 44. Saunders was bassist for Mad Season, wwhich featured Alice in Chains vocalist, Layne Staley (who would also die a heroin-related death in 2002.) "River of Deceit," "Above," "Wake Up"

Mike Scaccia
heart attack in 2012 at the age of 47. Scaccia was performing as part of the 50th birthday celebration for Rigor Mortis frontman, Bruce Corbitt, when he collapsed on stage. He had suffered a heart attack brought on by heart disease. Scaccia was lead guitarist for Rigor Mortis, Ministry, and The Revolting Cocks. Ministry: "Jesus Built My Hotrod," "N.W.O." The Revolting Cocks: "Stainless Steel Providers," "Sergio Guitar"

Joe Schermie
heart attack in 2002. He was 55. Schermie was the original bassist for Three Dog Night. "Black and White," "Joy to the World," "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)," "One"

Adam Schlesinger
coronavirus in 2020; age 52. Schlesinger was a singer/songwriter ("That Thing You Do!" from the film of the same name) and co-founder of Fountains of Wayne ("Stacy's Mom"). Based on his songwriting skills, he earned three Emmys and was nominated for a Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

Chuck Schuldiner
(Charles Michael Schuldiner), brain cancer (2001). He was 34. Schuldiner was the founder, songwriter, vocalist, rhythm and lead guitarist for the metal group, Death. "The Father of Death Metal," his obituary in Kerrang! magazine called Schuldiner "one of the most significant figures in the history of metal." He placed at #20 on Guitar World's list of the 100 greatest metal guitarists. Death albums include: Human, Individual Thought Patterns, Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance.

Bon Scott

Bon Scott

*Bon Scott
(Ronald Belford Scott), aspiration of vomit after excessive alcohol consumption in 1980. He was 33. Scott performed lead for AC/DC. The band, including Scott, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. "(You Shook Me) All Night Long," "Back in Black," "Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)"

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

Selena

Selena
(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"

David Seville

David Seville and the Chipmunks

David Seville
(Ross Bagdasarian), heart attack in 1972. 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)"

Del Shannon

Del Shannon

*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"

Bobby Sheehan
drug overdose in 1999; he was 31. Sheehan was the bassist for the popular '90s band, Blues Traveler. Valium, cocaine, and heroin were found in his system. "Run Around," "The Mountains Win Again," "Hook"

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"

Allan Sherman
respiratory ailments; 1973. He was 48. Sherman recorded the novelty tune, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh."

*Garry Shider
cancer of the brain and lungs (2010); he was 56. Shider was musical director, songwriter and guitarist for Parliament-Funkadelic. He was referred to by fans as "Starchild" or - because he often wore a loincloth while performing - "Diaperman." Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Shider was predeceased by fellow band members, Glenn Lamont Goins (1978) and Eddie Hazel (1992). "Flash Light," "One Nation Under a Groove," "Aqua Boogie," "(Not Just) Knee Deep"

The Singing Nun

"The Singing Nun"

"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.

John Siomos
causes unknown (2004); he was 56. Siomos was a session drummer who toured with Peter Frampton and appears on Frampton Comes Alive! Siomos co-wrote the hit "Do You Feel Like We Do". (Bob Mayo, who was the keyboardist for the Frampton tour, also died in 2004.) Siomos also appeared on Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me" and Carly Simon's "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be". Siomos was found dead in his apartment. No cause of death was named, but it was supposedly "natural causes."

Gregory Slay
Slay was co-founder of the band, Remy Zero, who scored hits with their songs, "Prophecy" and "Save Me". (The latter became the theme song for the television series, Smallville.) The group disbanded in 2003. That same year, Slay and two former bandmates formed Engine Room. They recorded "A Perfect Lie", which Slay co-wrote, the theme for the television series, Nip/Tuck. "A Perfect Lie" was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music in 2004. Slay succumbed to cystic fibrosis on New Year's Day, 2010. He was 40. Albums with Remy Zero: the self-titled Remy Zero and Villa Elaine.

*Hillel Slovak
heroin overdose in 1988; he was 26. Slovak, born in Israel to Holocaust survivors, was a founding member and the guitarist for California funk-rock band, Red Hot Chili Peppers. He appeared on their first two albums and was included in their 2012 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, but the band's success didn't ignite until several years after the guitarist's death. Post-Slovak: "Higher Ground," "Under the Bridge," "Give It Away"

Bessie Smith

"Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith

*^Bessie Smith
automobile accident; she was 43. "Empress of the Blues," it is believed she was coached by "Mother of the Blues," Ma Rainey (see 1939). Two versions circulate regarding Smith's death. The first states that Smith's vehicle slammed into a parked truck. A doctor saw the accident and stopped to help the singer, whose arm was nearly severed. Before he could move her to his vehicle, hers was struck by another car. Smith died later that day from her injuries. Another version has Smith's vehicle being hit head-on by a truck. Her arm was practically severed, but she was denied care at several "whites-only" hospitals. When she finally arrived at a "coloreds-only" hospital she had lost too much blood and died. She lay in an unmarked grave until 1970, when Janis Joplin (see 1971) and Juanita Green, Smith's former maid and later a chapter-head of the NAACP, donated money for a headstone. Smith was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. "Down Hearted Blues," "Backwater Blues," "St. Louis Blues"

Claydes Charles Smith
passed away in 2006 after "a long illness." He was 57. Smith was co-founder and lead guitarist of Kool & the Gang. He wrote the hits "Joanna" and "Take My Heart," and was a co-writer of "Celebration," "Jungle Boogie," and others.

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.

Fred "Sonic" Smith
heart failure at age 45 (1994). Guitarist for seminal punk group, MC5 (Motor City 5), and husband to poet/rocker Patti Smith. Vocalist for MC5, Rob Tyner, suffered the same fate three years earlier. (Bassist Michael Davis died of liver disease in 2012. He was 68.) "Kick Out the Jams," "Shakin' Street"

Gerard Smith
lung cancer in 2011. Smith was the bassist and keyboardist for TV On The Radio. Smith played on the albums Dear Science and Nine Types of Light, the latter of which was released just one week prior to his death. He was 34.

Jerome Smith
construction accident in 2000. He was 47. Smith was a founding member and rhythm guitarist of KC & the Sunshine Band. While working construction, he fell off his bulldozer and was crushed by the machine. "Get Down Tonight," "That's The Way (I Like It)," "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty"

Mike "Smitty" Smith
succumbed to natural causes in 2001. He was 58. (Some sources have his age at death as 60.) Smith was the drummer for Paul Revere and the Raiders. "Indian Reservation (Cherokee People)," "Steppin' Out," "The Great Airplane Strike"

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.

Scott Smith
drowned in 2000. He was 45. Smith was the bassist for '80s soft-rockers, Loverboy. Smith was boating with two friends when strong winds and high waves began battering the craft. He sent his friends below deck; a while later they realized both he and the steering mechanism were missing. His body was never found. "Working for the Weekend," "Lovin' Every Minute of It," "This Could Be the Night"

Cory Smoot
cause of death unknown (2011). Smoot played the character, Flattus Maximus, in the metal band, Gwar. Several guitarists have portrayed the character; it was retired when Smoot (the most recent Maximus) was found dead on the band's tour bus. He was 34. Gwar were nominated for two Grammy Awards. "Endless Apocalypse," "If I Could Be That," "The Performer"

Phoebe Snow
(Phoebe Ann Laub), effects of a brain hemorrhage. She was 60. Snow's 1975 song, "Poetry Man," reached Billboard's Top Five in the Hot 100. She was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist, was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, and appeared several times as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Snow endured a brain hemorrhage in January 2010 and slipped into a coma. She died over a year later, in April of 2011. "I Don't Want the Night to End," "Harpo's Blues"

SOPHIE
(Sophie Xeon), died in "a terrible accident" in 2021; she was 34. A trans woman, SOPHIE was a trans rights activist. She worked with Madonna to co-produce the single "Bitch, I'm Madonna" and collaborated with Charli XCX on the EP Vroom Vroom. SOPHIE's debut album Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides was awarded a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album. Her singles include "Bipp" and "Lemonade".

Soraya
breast cancer (2006). She was 37. Soraya was a Hispanic singer who won a Latin Grammy for Best Female Album in 2004. Her mother, grandmother and an aunt died of breast cancer, which prompted her to educate Hispanic women about the disease. "Solo Por Ti," "Casi"

Jimmy Soul
(James McCleese), heart attack in 1988. Soul hit #1 in 1963 with the song "If You Wanna Be Happy." He was 45 when he died.

Epic Soundtracks
(Kevin Godfrey), unknown causes (1997); he was 37. Cause of death is speculated as drug overdose or suicide. Soundtracks was a solo artist and once part of Swell Maps, a '70s rock outfit that he had formed with his brother, Nikki Sudden (see 2006).

Skip Spence
(Alexander Spence), lung cancer (1999). He was 52. Spence was the original drummer for Jefferson Airplane. He left to form Moby Grape. (Spence's replacement in Jefferson Airplane, Spencer Dryden, died in 2005 from colon cancer. He was 66. Papa John Creach, the Airplane's fiddler, succumbed to pneumonia in 1994 at the age of 76.) With Jefferson Airplane: "You're My Best Friend" With Moby Grape: "Hey Grandma," "Fall On You," "Sitting By the Window"

Ian "Spike" Spice
cause of death undisclosed (2000); he was 34. Spice was the drummer for Breathe, who had several pop radio hits in the late '80s. "How Can I Fall?" "Hands to Heaven," "Does She Love That Man?"

Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield

*Dusty Springfield
(Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien), breast cancer, 1999. She was 59. Springfield died on the day she was scheduled to receive the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the queen of England and two weeks before her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "I Only Want to Be With You," "Wishin' and Hopin'," "Son of a Preacher Man," "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"

Mark St. John
cerebral hemorrhage in 2007, age 51. St. John was the guitarist for Kiss during its brief "no-makeup" period, appearing on the album Animalize and in the music video "Heaven's On Fire." He was diagnosed with Reiter's Syndrome (a form of arthritis), which caused his hands and arms to swell. This prevented him from playing guitar, and he completed only one live performance with the band. St. John improved after leaving Kiss, and he started the metal group, White Tiger. With Kiss: "I've Had Enough (Into the Fire)," "Get All You Can Take." With White Tiger: "Rock Warriors," "Northern Wind," "Still Standing Strong"

Terry Stafford
liver failure. Stafford had the uncanny ability to mimic Elvis's vocal style. He died in 1996 at the age of 54. "Suspicion," "I'll Touch a Star"

Layne Staley space saver Alice in Chains

Layne Staley.

Alice in Chains, circa 1992: Mike Starr (d. 2011), Jerry Cantrell, Layne Stayley (d. 2002) and Sean Kinney.

Layne Staley
heroin overdose in 2002. Staley was 34. Lead singer of Alice in Chains and Mad Season, Staley was found dead in his apartment, his body undiscovered for 2 weeks. He died on 5 April, the date fellow grunge icon, Nirvana singer, Kurt Cobain, took his life in 1994. Mike Starr, former bassist for AIC, was the last known person to see Staley alive; he spent time with the singer the day before he died. Starr stated that Staley was extremely ill, but would not call 911. The two argued and Starr stormed off with Staley calling after him, "Not like this, don't leave like this." Starr regretted not calling 911 to save his friend's life and blamed himself for Staley's death. (Mike Starr would die of a suspected drug overdose in 2011. Coincidentally, Staley's bassist in Mad Season, John Baker Saunders, died of a heroin overdose in 1999.) AIC had the heaviest sound of the early '90s grunge movement, with songs like "Would?," "No Excuses," "Down in a Hole," and "Angry Chair."

Mack Starr
(Julius McMichael), motorcylce accident. Mack was a member of the vocal quartet, The Olympics. Vocalist Charles Fizer was replaced by Melvin King for a year while he was imprisoned for drug possession. Fizer was later shot and killed by the National Guard during the Watts Riots (see 1965). King again stepped in to replace Fizer, but distraught over the death of his sister (who was also killed in the riots), he performed only one show before leaving the group. Mack Starr became Melvin King's replacement. In 1981, Starr was knocked off his motorcycle by an out-of-control automobile and killed. He was 45. The Olympics: "Western Movies" (which reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100), "(Baby) Hully Gully," "Big Boy Pete," "Good Lovin'"

Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains, circa 1992: Mike Starr (d. 2011), Jerry Cantrell, Layne Stayley (d. 2002) and Sean Kinney.

Mike Starr
(Michael Christopher Starr), suspected drug overdose; he was 44. Starr was the bassist for grunge icons, Alice in Chains. He was replaced in the group in 1993 after the release of the album, Dirt, because of his addiction to heroin. In February 2011, he was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance in Salt Lake City, Utah. A month later, he was found dead in a Salt Lake City home. In 2010, Starr appeared on the television series, Celebrity Rehab for heroin addiction. He remembered Alice in Chains lead singer, Layne Staley, and his death in 2002. Starr was the last known person to see Staley alive; he spent time with the singer the day before his death. He stated that Staley was extremely ill, but would not call 911. The two argued and Starr stormed off with Staley calling after him, "Not like this, don't leave like this." Starr regretted not calling 911 to save his friend's life and blamed himself for Staley's death. AIC had the heaviest sound of the early '90s grunge movement, with songs like "Would?," "No Excuses," "Down in a Hole," and "Angry Chair."

Wayne Static

Wayne Static
(Wayne Richard Wells), multiple prescription drug toxicity; 2014. He was 48. Static was the lead vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist for metal band Static-X. Static died peacefully in his sleep. "Push It," "The Only," "I'm the One"

Peter Steele
(Petrus T. Ratajczyk), heart failure in 2010. Steele was the bassist, composer and lead singer of "Gothic metal" band, Type O Negative. He stood an imposing 6' 7" tall and appeared as a nude centerfold in Playgirl in 1995. Steele was 48 at the time of his death. "Black No. 1," "Bloody Kisses," a particularly disturbing version of Seals & Crofts's "Summer Breeze"

B.W. Stevenson
(Lewis Charles "Buckwheat" Stevenson), died following heart surgery in 1988. He was 38. "My Maria," "Be My Woman Tonight," "Shambala"

Ian Stewart
stroke. Stewart was the original keyboardist for the Rolling Stones who was relegated to a behind-the-scenes position as roadie becuase he lacked the look of a rock star. He stayed with the band (and out of sight) for over twenty years, and he played on several Stones' hits, including "It's All Over Now," "Star Star," and "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll." In 1979, he formed the band Rocket 88. Stewart died of a stroke in 1985 while sitting in his doctor's waiting room. He was 47.

Jermaine Stewart
AIDS (1997); he was 39. Back-up vocalist for Shalamar, The Temptations, and Boy George and singer of the '80s top ten single, "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off."

Bob Stinson
(Robert Neil Stinson), body gave out in 1995 after years of alcohol and heroin abuse; he was 35. Founder and guitarist for The Replacements. "I Will Dare," "Unsatisfied," "Bastards of the Young"

Rory Storm
(Alan Caldwell), overdose in 1972. 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"

Lynn Strait
(James Lynn Strait), car accident in 1998. Strait was the singer and lyricist for the rock band Snot. He was involved in a six-car crash, but the only fatalities were the musician and his dog, Dobbs (who is featured on the cover of Snot's debut album, Get Some). Strait was 29. "Joy Ride," "Tecato," "Deadfall"

Steve Strange
(Steven Harrington), lead singer for '80s New Romantic band, Visage, and popular nightclub owner. He died of a heart attack in 2015 at the age of 55. "Fade to Grey"

Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer

*Joe Strummer
(John Graham Mellor), heart failure in 2002. He was 50. Ground-breaking punk band The Clash were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. "Rock the Casbah," "Train in Vain," "Radio Clash"

Jud Strunk
plane crash in 1981. He was 45. Strunk appeared on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," "Hee-Haw," "Bewitched," and "The Merv Griffin Show." Strunk was killed when he crashed his 1941 PT 19 at the Carrabassett Valley Airport in Maine. "Daisy A Day"

Poly Styrene
(Marianne Joan Elliott-Said), songwriter and vocalist for pioneering British punk band, X-Ray Spex. (She also released a single in 1976, as Mari Elliot, called "Silly Billy".) Styrene was diagnosed with breast cancer that eventually spread to her spine and lungs. She died in 2011 at the age of 53. With X-Ray Spex: "Oh Bondage Up Yours!" "I Am A Cliche," "The Day The World Turned Day-Glo"

Nikki Sudden
(Nicholas Godfrey), unknown causes in 2006; he was 49. Sudden was a cult British rocker who was once part of Swell Maps, a '70s rock outfit that he had formed with his brother, Epic Soundtracks (see 1997). Sudden's 1990 album, Liquor, Guns, and Ammo,, was a collaboration with members of REM.

Eddie Sulik

Eddie Sulik

Eddie Sulik
car crash in 1965; he was 36. Sulik was a songwriter, lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the rockabilly duo the Echoes. The Echoes appeared with perfomers like Johnny Burnette (see 1964), Johnny Tillotson, and the Temptations. In 1960, the Echoes embarked on a brief tour with the Miss Universe Pageants, and appeared on radio and TV. Sulik went solo in 1961, garnering the attention of record executive Archie Bleyer. Bleyer invited Sulik to his office in New York City two weeks before Christmas, 1965; Chet Atkins was going to be in town. Sulik was killed in a car accident just hours before the meeting. Sulik was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Vist The Archive's Tribute to Eddie Sulik. "Bye-Bye My Baby," "Ectasy," "Bounty Hunter Dale," "Anna Marie"

James "The Rev" Sullivan
unknown causes in 2009. Sullivan was 28. He was found unresponsive at his home. Sullivan was the drummer for Avenged Sevenfold, who were named Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2006. "Bat Country," "Afterlife," "Almost Easy"

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"

Stuart Sutcliffe
cerebral hemorrhage in 1962. Early member of The Beatles, famous for quitting right before their massive popularity so he could spend time with his girlfriend. Sutcliffe was 21. "Hard Day’s Night, "Eight Days a Week"

Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze
pancreatic cancer (2009); he was 57. Swayze was primarily known as an actor (Dirty Dancing, Ghost). He co-wrote and sang the top ten hit song, "She's Like the Wind," from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. He was named People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1991.

Darrell Sweet
heart attack in 1999. He was 52. Sweet was a member of 1970s rock act, Nazareth. He died from a sudden heart attack that caught him backstage prior to a show in Indiana. Nazareth's hit covers: "Love Hurts," "This Flight Tonight," "My White Bicycle"

Edmund Sylvers
cancer (2004); he was 47. Lead singer of the Sylvers. "Boogie Fever"

Sylvester
(Sylvester James), AIDS (1988). He was 41. Started as a gospel singer and became disco's first openly gay performer. "Down Down Down," "Dance (Disco Heat)," "Over and Over," "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)"