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The Death of Rock: The Alphabetical Archive

W, X, Y, and Z

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.

W

Doreen Waddell
struck by three vehicles and killed in 2002. Waddell, 36, was a former vocalist with Soul II Soul and The KLF. She was being chased after shoplifting from a store in Worthing when she ran onto the A27 and was killed. Soul II Soul: "Back to Life" The KLF: "3 AM Eternal," "Justified and Ancient"

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"

Patrick Waite
head trauma (1993). Bassist for '80s one-hit wonders, Musical Youth. Waite, who turned to a life of crime after the band's break-up, died while awaiting a court appearance on drug charges. Supposedly, an undiagnosed viral infection caused Waite to pass out. As he fell, he hit his head and died from the injury. He was 23. "Pass the Dutchie"

Fats Waller
(Thomas Wright Waller), pneumonia in 1943. He was 39. Waller was a legendary jazz pianist and composer. Two of his compositions, "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Ain't Misbehavin'" are in the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004, "Ain't Misbehavin'" was also listed in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress.

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)

Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington

*^Dinah Washington
(Ruth Jones), mixed alcohol and pills in 1963. She was 39. Washington was the most popular black female artist of the 1950s, with several top 10 R&B hits. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2003. "Wheel of Fortune," "Cold, Cold Heart," "Baby Get Lost," "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" (with Brook Benton)

Grover Washington, Jr.
collapsed from a massive heart attack after a performance on CBS's The Saturday Early Show in 1999. He was 56. Washington was a jazz saxophonist who gained mainstrem success with "Just the Two of Us" with Bill Withers, "The Best is Yet to Come" with Patti LaBelle, and "A Sacred Kind of Love" with Phylllis Hyman. His solo jazz hits include "Mister Magic," "Winelight," "Black Frost," and "Inner City Blues".

Merle Watson

Merle Watson

Merle Watson
(Eddy Merle Watson), tractor accident in 1985. Watson was a folk/blues/gospel/country/bluegrass musician who collaborated with his legendary and award-winning father, Doc Watson. (Merle shared two Grammy Awards with his father.) One night, unable to sleep, Merle went to the basement to trim some paneling for his basement walls. The saw blade hit a fault in the grain and a large piece of wood splintered off, embedding itself in his upper arm. He grabbed the key to his farm tractor, and left to seek help. He proceeded to a house at the summit of a steep hill, where the owners of the house were able to aid him in removing the splinter. Bandaged, but weak from the loss of blood, he left to return home. On the way back down the steep hill, the tractor brakes locked, and it pitched over a high embankment. Watson was thrown off the tractor which landed on him, killing him instantly. He was 36. MerleFest, an annual "Americana Music Celebration" named after Watson, is one of the most popular acoustic music festivals in the world. It was hosted annually by Doc Watson in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Doc Watson died after colon surgery in 2012 at the age of 89.) "Cotton Row," "Freight Train Boogie," "Interstate Rag," "Guitar Polka" (Thanks to Fuller Up, Dead Musicians Directory for the information.)

Scott Weiland

Scott Weiland

Scott Weiland
found dead in his bed on his tour bus of an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol in 2015. He was 48. Weiland was the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. Stone Temple Pilots were one of the most successful bands of the grunge era with 11 top ten hits. "Plush," "Creep," "Interstate Love Song," "Big Empty"

*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"

Mary Wells
(Mary Esther Wells), cancer of the larynx (1993); she was 49. Motown singer who scored a phenomenal hit with 1964's "My Guy." "The One Who Really Loves You," "You Beat Me to the Punch," "Two Lovers," and (with Marvin Gaye, see 1984) "Once Upon A Time"

Mikey Welsh
(Michael Edward Welsh), found dead in a hotel room in 2011; cause of death as yet unknown. Welsh, 40, was the bassist for Weezer, from 1998 - 2001. Weezer's debut album, 1994's Weezer (The Blue Album), produced several hits, including "Undone - The Sweater Song," "Buddy Holly," and "Say It Ain't So."

Helen Wheels
(Helen Robbins), staph infrection. Wheels sang with Blue Oyster Cult ("Room to Rage," "Tattoo Vampire") and later went on to form her own bands. In 2000, she developed a staph infection after a routine surgery and passed away. She was 50.

Barry White

Barry White

Barry White
(Barry Carter), medical complications (2003) at the age of 58. Chronic high blood pressure resulted in kidney failure. While undergoing dialysis in May, White suffered a stroke which impaired his speech and left him partially paralyzed. The baritone, responsible for numerous romantic soul classics, won two Grammys and earned 106 gold albums, 41 platinum albums, 20 gold singles and 10 platinum singles. "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe," "You're the First, the Last, My Everything," "Love's Theme"

*Clarence White
(Clarence LeBlanc), hit and run in 1973. 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"

John Whitehead and Gene McFadden

The Epsilons: John Whitehead & Gene McFadden

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."

Johnnie Wilder, Jr.
died in his sleep in 2006, presumably from complications of quadriplegia. He was 56. Wilder sang lead for Heatwave. He was paralyzed from the waist-down after a van struck his vehicle in 1979, yet he continued his singing career. "Always and Forever," "Boogie Nights"

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Skynyrd circa 1974: Leon Wilkeson (d. 2001), Billy Powell (d. 2009),

Ronnie Van Zant (d. 1977), Gary Rossington, Bob Burns, Allen Collins (d. 1990), Ed King.

*Leon Wilkeson
liver disease; he was 49. Wilkeson was a founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Along with Gary Rossington, Allen Collins (see 1990), Artimus Pyle and Billy Powell (see 2009), he was also a survivor of the 1977 plane crash that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, his sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines, and manager Dean Kilpatrick. During the early '90s, guitarist Ed King found Leon Wilkeson on the group's tour bus, sleeping, but with his throat cut and bleeding. Wilkeson was taken to the hospital and recovered. It is still a mystery as to who was responsible - Ed King blames Wilkeson's girlfriend-at-the-time. Wilkeson's replacement in the band, Donald "Ean" Evans, succumbed to cancer in 2009. 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"

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. "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)," "Tempted," "Goodbye Girl"

Dave Williams
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; 2002. He was 30. Williams was the original lead singer for the metal group, Drowning Pool. He was ranked #82 (out of 100) as one of the top metal vocalists by Hit Parader. Williams performed on Drowning Pool's debut platinum album, Sinner.

Hank Williams

Hank Williams

*#Hank Williams
(Hiram King Williams, Sr.), severe heart attack because of excessive drug and alcohol consumption (1953). Williams was 29. In 1961, he was the first artist selected for the Country Music Hall of Fame. Williams was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1985 and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He was also honored on a United States postage stamp. Country Music Television ranked him second on their "40 Greatest Men of Country Music" in 2003. (Johnny Cash got top honors.) In 2010, he was awarded a special citation by the Pulitzer Prize Committee. "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive," "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Hey, Good Lookin'" For a complete list of Williams's awards, a detailed account of his career, and information on the Curse of Hank Williams (in relation to fellow country crooner, Johnny Horton), visit Hank Williams's Tribute.

*Lamar Williams
cancer (1983) linked to exposure to Agent Orange during Vietnam; he was 36. Williams replaced Berry Oakley (see 1972) and was replaced by Allen Woody (see 2000) on bass in the Allman Brothers Band, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. "Ramblin' Man," "Midnight Rider," "Melissa"

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"

Milan B. Williams
cancer (2006). He was 58. Williams was one of the original Commodores, who wrote the group's first hit, "Machine Gun." The Commodores were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1995. "Brick House," "Easy," "Three Times A Lady"

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; 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. Lead singer of The Plasmatics, infamous for chainsaws, blowing up cars, and startegically-placed masking tape. Williams was 48. Read her suicide note. "Living Dead"

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 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"

Barrie James (B.J.) Wilson
pneumonia, in 1990; age 43. Drummer for Procol Harum, the late '60s - early '70s psychedelic sensation (and author Douglas Adams's favorite band). Their hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale" was rumoured to be John Lennon's (see 1980) favorite song. Wilson also played drums on The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. "Conquistador," "Repent Walpurgis," "She Wandered Through the Garden Fence"

*Carl Wilson
lung cancer, 1998; he was 51. Carl was brother to Brian and Dennis Wilson, all Beach Boys, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. "Surfin' USA," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows"

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys. From top: Brain Wilson, Dennis Wilson (d. 1983),

Al Jardine, Mike Love, and Carl Wilson (d. 1998).

*Dennis Wilson
drowned in 1983; he was 39. Dennis was brother to Carl (see 1998) and Brian, all Beach Boys, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. "Surfin' USA," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows"

J. Frank Wilson
causes unknown; assumed medical (1991). Wilson gained notoriety with his "death disc," "Last Kiss." While his record was in the Top Ten, Wilson was involved in a head-on collision with his band and producer, Sonley Roush, who was killed. Wilson never enjoyed a hit song again and died in a nursing home, at the age of 49.

Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson

*Jackie Wilson
(Jack Leroy Wilson, Jr.), age 50 at the time of his death. Wilson suffered a heart attack in 1975 while performing "Lonely Teardrops," struck his head falling and lapsed into a four-month coma. When he emerged, it was discovered he had suffered brain damage from oxygen depravation. He remained hospitalized, immobile and incapable of speech until his death 9 years later, in 1984. "Mr. Entertainment" was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. "Lonely Teardrops," "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher"

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"

Ricky Wilson
complications from AIDS (1985). He was 32. Wilson was a member of the quirky, new wave/punk/pop B-52's. "Rock Lobster" Post-Wilson: "Roam," "Love Shack," "Deadbeat Club"

Robert Wilson
heart attack in 2010; he was 53. Wilson was a member of The Gap Band, an R&B trio popular in the late '70s and early '80s, which consisted of Robert and his brothers Charlie and Ronnie. "You Dropped A Bomb on Me," "Shake," "I Don't Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops Upside Your Head)"

Ron Wilson
brain aneurysm, 1989. He was 49. Wilson was the drummer for The Sufaris, responsible for the incredible drum solo on their classic, "Wipe Out."

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse
found dead in her apartment, acute alcohol poisoning (2011). She was 27. Winehouse, a Grammy-winning soul singer with a retro sound, very publicly battled with drug addiction. She often made headlines for her erratic behavior and her shockingly thin and dissheveled appearance. At the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, Winehouse's second (and final) album, Back to Black, won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album (and was nominated for Album of the Year). The single, "Rehab," won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year; Winehouse won Best New Artist. (In "Rehab," she refers to fellow soul singer, Donny Hathaway, who committed suicide in 1979.) "Tears Dry on Their Own," "You Know I'm No Good," "Back to Black"

Kurt Winter
liver failure combined with a bleeding ulcer (1997). He was 51. Winter was the guitarist for The Guess Who. He wrote their hits, "Hand Me Down World" and "Clap for the Wolfman." The Guess Who are also known for: "These Eyes," "American Woman," "Undun"

Tom "T-Bone" Wolk
heart attack in 2010; he was 58. Wolk was bassist for Hall & Oates and a former member of the Saturday Night Live Band. He also worked with Daryl Hall on solo projects, and he collaborated with Carly Simon, Squeeze, Elvis Costello and Billy Joel. With Hall & Oates: "One on One," "Maneater," "Out of Touch," "Method of Modern Love," "So Close"

Andrew Wood
heroin overdose in 1990, Seattle. Lead singer of Mother Love Bone, precursor to Pearl Jam, and former roommate to Chris Cornell (lead of sludge-metal pioneers, Soundgarden). Wood was 24. "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns," "Bone China"

*Chris Wood
liver failure in 1983; he was 39. Member of the band, Traffic, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. "Feelin' Alright," "Paper Moon," "Dear Mr. Fantasy," "Glad," "Every Mother's Son"

Allen Woody
(Douglas Allen Woody), most likely a heart attack in 2000. He was 44. Woody played bass for the Artimus Pyle Band, the Allman Brothers Band (he replaced Lamar Williams - see 1983, who replaced Berry Oakley - see 1972), and Gov't Mule. He was found dead, seated ina chair, by a maid in a Queens (NY) hotel room. The Allman Brothers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. (Woody was not included in the induction, having joined the band in 1989.) The Allmans: "Whipping Post," "Ramblin' Man," "Midnight Rider." With Gov't Mule: "Mother Earth," "Temporary Saint," "Dolphineus"

James Woolley
former keyboardist (1991-1994) for Nine Inch Nails. His cause of death in 2016 is unknown; he was 40. Woolley appeared on the band's influential album, The Downward Spiral. He won a Grammy in 1993 for "Best Metal Performance" for "Wish." "Closer," "Hurt," "March of the Pigs"

Syreeta Wright
(Rita Wright), cancer in 2004; age 58. Motown singer and songwriter. She dueted with, and was once married to, Stevie Wonder. She also appeared as Mary Magdalene in a U.S. touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar. "With You I'm Born Again" (with Billy Preston, see 2006), "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," "If You Really Love Me" (both with Stevie Wonder), "Your Kiss Is Sweet," "Spinnin' and Spinnin'"

Philippe Wynne
heart attack. He was 43. Wynne was the former lead singer of the Spinners. He suffered a fatal heart attack while on stage in California in 1984. "I'll Be Around," "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love?" "Then Came You" (with Dionne Warwick)

X

There are currently no entries for "X."

Y

*Zal Yanovsky
heart attack in 2002; he was 57. Founding member and original guitarist for The Lovin' Spoonful, he left the group in 1967. The album, "The Best of The Lovin' Spoonful" (1967), charted for an entire year, peaking at #3. The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Yanovsky contributed to the hits, "Do You Believe in Magic," "Daydream," "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind," "Summer in the City," and "Good Time Music"

Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys:

Adam "MCA" Yauch (d. 2012), Michael Diamond ("Mike D"), and Adam "Adrock" Horowitz.

*Adam "MCA" Yauch
cancer. Posted on the Beastie Boys website the day of Yauch's death: "It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam "MCA" Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer. He was 47 years old." The Beastie Boys won three Grammy Awards and three MTV Video Music Awards. The trio were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, just prior to Yauch's death. "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)," "Intergalactic," "Sure Shot," "Sabotage," "So Whatcha Want"

Paul Young
heart attack in 2000. He was 53. Young was a singer and percussionist with the bands Sad Cafe and Mike + the Mechanics. With Sad Cafe: "Everyday Hurts," "Run Home Girl." With Mike + the Mechanics: "The Living Years," "All I Need is a Miracle," "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)"

Robert "Throb" Young
found dead in his flat in 2014. The cause of death was not disclosed, although a manager of the group suggested that drugs or alcohol were involved. Young was 49. He was a member of the alternative rock band, Primal Scream, from 1984 to 2006. “Movin’ On Up,” “Come Together,” “Loaded”

Z

Mia Zapata

Mia Zapata

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.

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

*Frank Zappa
prostate cancer in 1993; he was 53. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #45). Zappa formed the Mothers of Invention and he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. "Dancin' Fool," "Valley Girl"

Warren Zevon
lung cancer, 2003; age 56. Zevon began his musical career as pianist and later bandleader for the Everly Brothers. He then penned several hits for Linda Ronstadt (such as "Carmelita," "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me," and "Hasten Down the Wind"), before gaining notoriety as the creator of macabre novelty hits. "Werewolves of London," "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead," "Life'll Kill Ya," "She Quit Me Man" (from Midnight Cowboy)