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The Death of Rock: Medical Causes, General

"Natural" causes of death are listed on this page. Because The Medical Archive has the most number of entries, I have divided it into three pages: deaths attributed to cardiac ailments, deaths resulting from cancer, and deaths due to all other medical conditions. This page lists the other, or general, medical ailments. For musicians felled by heart problems or cancer, select one of these links:

Cancer
includes tumors, lymphomas, leukemia, etc.

Cardiac afflictions
includes heart attacks, cardiac arrests, heart disease, etc.

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.

*Dave Michael Alexander
pulmonary edema; 1975. 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"

Matthew Ashman
diabetes; 1995. He was 35. Guitarist for ‘80s new wave group, Bow Wow Wow. "I Want Candy"

Paul Atkinson
liver and kidney disease, 2004. Atkinson was a founding member of The Zombies, a '60s British Invasion band. He later became a music executive, signing (among others) ABBA, Bruce Hornsby, Judas Priest, and Patty Smyth. Atkinson was 58 at the time of his death. "She's Not There," "Time of the Season," "Tell Her No"

Paul Baloff
stroke in 2002. Baloff was a lead vocalist for thrash-metal band, Exodus. He appeared on the album, Bonded by Blood. Baloff was 41 at the time of his death.

Syd Barrett

*Syd Barrett
(Roger Keith Barrett), complications from diabetes (2006). He was 60. Barrett was a founding member of Pink Floyd, who wrote most of Floyd's first two albums, before succumbing to drug addiction and mental collapse. (He was replaced by David Gilmour and became rock's most famous recluse.) Many of the band's later hits, such as "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Wish You Were Here" were tributes to Barrett. Pink Floyd (including Barrett) were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. With Floyd: "Arnold Layne," "Bike," "See Emily Play." Solo albums: The Madcap Laughs, Barrett

Brook Benton
(Benjamin Franklin Peay), spinal meningitis. Benton died in 1988 at the age of 56. He scored a hit in 1970 with "A Rainy Night In Georgia."

Ronnie Bond
(Ronald Bullis), lengthy illness in 1992. He was 50. Bond was a member of The Troggs, who scored a number two hit with 1966's "Wild Thing." Other hits include "A Girl Like You" and "I Can't Control Myself."

Laura Branigan

Laura Branigan

Laura Branigan
aneurysm, 2004. She was 47. Songstress of the '80s, scoring four Grammy nominations. "Gloria," "Self-Control," "Solitaire," "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?"

Danny Joe Brown
complications from diabetes, including renal failure and pneumonia (2005). He was 53. Brown sang lead for the Southern rock band, Molly Hatchet, which was named after a prostitute who supposedly beheaded her clients. Hatchet's 1978 eponymous album went platinum. "Flirtin' With Disaster," "Bounty Hunter," "Whisky Man"

*David Brown
liver and kidney failure; 2000. He was 53. Brown was the original bassist for Santana, playing with the band from 1966 until 1971. He rejoined the band in 1973, remaining until 1976. Santana were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Brown played on classics like "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen," "Oye Como Va," "Samba Pa Ti," and "Evil Ways"

*Elbridge "Al" Bryant
cirrhosis of the liver (1975). 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"

Rob Buck
liver failure (2000); he was 42. Buck was a guitarist for 10,000 Maniacs (which featured lead singer, Natalie Merchant). "My Mother the War," "Hey Jack Kerouac," MTV Unplugged cover of Patty Smith's "Because the Night"

Clive Burr
multiple sclerosis; 2013. Burr was the original drummer for metal band, Iron Maiden. He joined the group in 1979 and appeared on the band's first three albums. He was 56. Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number of the Beast

*Glenn Buxton
pneumonia; 1997. He was 49. Buxton was guitarist for Alice Cooper. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #90). Buxton, as part of the Alice Cooper Band, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. "Welcome to My Nightmare," "School's Out," "No More Mr. Nice Guy"

Toy Caldwell
respiratory failure; he was 45. Caldwell was the guitarist for Toy Factory and The Marshall Tucker Band (both with George McCorkle, see 2007). Caldwell had bronchial problems which were aggravated by his cocaine habit; this resulted in a respiratory collapse. In 1993, he suffered a bout of the flu and died in his sleep from respiratory failure. (Source: "The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars," Jeremy Simmonds.) Caldwell was scheduled to play a fundraiser in memory of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant (see 1977) on the day he died. Caldwell's brother and fellow Marshall Tucker band mate, Tommy Caldwell, died in a car crash in 1980. "Can't You See," "Heard It In A Love Song," "Ramblin'"

*Chas Chandler
(Bryan James Chandler), aortic aneurysm (1996). He was 58. Chandler was the bassist for The Animals. He later discovered and managed Jimi Hendrix (see 1970) and Slade. The Animals were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. "House of the Rising Sun," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"

John Cipollina
emphysema, 1989. Guitarist for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Cipollina was 45. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking #32). "Who Do You Love," "Pride of Man," "Fresh Air"

David Cole
spinal meningitis (1995). He was 32. Cole was half of the early '90s dance sensation, C & C Music Factory. They won a Grammy for their work on the Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner film, The Bodyguard. "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," "Here We Go," "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...."

Allen Collins

Allen Collins

*Allen Collins
(Larkin Allen Collins, Jr.), pneumonia (1990). He was 37. Collins was a guitarist for and one of the founders of Lynyrd Skynyrd. In 1986, he crashed his car while driving drunk; his girlfriend was killed and he was paralyzed from the waist down. The pneumonia was a result of decreased lung capacity from the paralyzation. Collins, along with Gary Rossington, Leon Wilkeson (see 2001), Artimus Pyle and Billy Powell (see 2009), 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. Lynyrd Skynyrd were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Visit the Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute. Free Bird," Sweet Home Alabama," Gimme Three Steps," Simple Man"

Brian Connolly
kidney failure, 1997. He was 52. Connolly was the vocalist for Sweet. Ballroom Blitz," Action," Little Willy"

Barbara Cowsill
emphysema (1985). She was the vocalist and matriarch of the '60s family group, The Cowsills, who were the inspiration for television's "The Partridge Family." (Sons and fellow band members Barry (see 2005) and William (see 2006) would die within a year of one another.) Barbara was 54 at the time of her death. "Hair," "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things," "Indian Lake"

The Cowsills

The Cowsills: Bob, Barry (d. 2005), Susan, William (d. 2006), Barbara (d. 1985), and John

William Cowsill
complications from emphysema, osteoporosis and Cushing syndrome; 2006. He was a member of the '60s group, The Cowsills. (Mother Barbara passed away in 1985 and brother Barry drowned during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.) Made up of six siblings and their mother, The Cowsills were the inspiration for television's "The Partridge Family." William was 58. "Hair," "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things," "Indian Lake"

Robbin Crosby
complications from AIDS; 2002. Crosby, guitarist for the seminal 1980's hair-metal band, Ratt, abused heroin during the band's early success and contracted HIV. Ratt's 1984 video for their signature song, Round and Round," featured a cross-dressing Milton Berle. Crosby was 42. Round and Round," Lay It Down"

John "JC" Curulewski
brain aneurysm in 1988, age 37. Curulewski was a co-founder of Styx (with Dennis DeYoung and brothers Chuck and John Panozzo. John died of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage brought on by alcoholism in 1996.) Curulewski left the band in the mid-1970s and was replaced on guitar by Tommy Shaw. "Mr. Roboto," "Come Sail Away," "Lady," "Babe"

Dennis Danell
Danell was the guitarist and co-founding member of the punk rock band, Social Distortion. Danell suddenly dropped dead in his driveway while moving into a new home in 2000. The band's manager stated that he had died of a cerebral aneurysm. The Orange County Coroner’s Office lists his death as “idiopathic dialated cardiomyopathy.” Fellow band member, Mike Ness, stated on the DVD commentary of Another State of Mind that Danell succumbed to a heart condition. Danell was 38. "Let It Be Me," "Ball and Chain," "I Was Wrong"

Frank Esler-Smith
pneumonia (rumored to be AIDS-related) in 1991. Esler-Smith was an arranger and keyboard player for the soft rock band Air Supply in the '70s and '80s. He was 42. "Lost in Love," "All Out of Love," "Every Woman in the World," "The One That You Love"

Bernard Edwards
pneumonia; 1996. He was 43. Edwards was a member of disco icons, Chic. He also produced pop acts, including Sister Sledge ("We Are Family"), Diana Ross ("Upside Down"), and Power Station ("Some Like It Hot"), which featured fellow Chic member, Tony Thompson (see 2003), John nd andy Taylor of Duran Duran, and Robert Palmer (see 2003). With Chic: "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)," "Le Freak," "Good Times".

Tommy Edwards
cerebral aneurysm in 1969. He was 47. Edwards had the #22 hit song of the decade (1950s), with "All In The Game." ("Many a tear have to fall, but it's all in the game...")

T. Rex

One version of T. Rex: Bill Legend, Mickey Finn (d. 2003),

singer Marc Bolan (d. 1977), and Steve Currie (d. 1980).

*Mickey Finn
(Michael Norman Finn), liver and kidney disease; 2003. He was 55. Finn joined T-Rex, where he replaced Steve Peregrin Took (see 1980) on bongos and "looked superb," according to singer Marc Bolan (see 1977). T-Rex seems to have fallen apart after Bolan's death. In addition to Finn and Took, fellow T-Rex members Steve Currie (see 1981) and "Dino" Dines (see 2004) also passed away prematurely. T-Rex was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. "Get It On (Bang A Gong)," "Hot Love," "Telegram Sam," "Metal Guru"

*Tom Fogerty
1990. There are conflicting reports of cause of death. Some versions state AIDS as the reason; some say a heart attack or tuberculosis were to blame. Fogerty was 49. Member of Creedence Clearwater Revival and brother to legendary songwriter/musician John Fogerty. Creedence was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. "Fortunate Son," "Bad Moon Rising," "Proud Mary"

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).

*Melvin Franklin
seizure in 1995. Franklin (uncle of Rick James, see 2004) was a founding member of the Temptations. He was 52 at the time of his death. Fellow Temptations also included in The Archive: Paul Williams (suicide, 1973), Elbridge Bryant (cirrhosis of the liver, 1975), David Ruffin (cocaine overdose in 1991), and Eddie Kendricks (cancer, 1992). The Temptations were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. "The Way You Do The Things You Do," "My Girl," "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"

Pauly Fuemana
died after a brief illness in 2010; he was 40. Fuemana was the lead singer of the New Zealand group, OMC (Otara Millionaires Club). The duo was best known for their international hit, "How Bizarre" (1996). The song was named Single of the Year at the 1996 New Zealand Music Awards, and reached number one in the U.S. (Billboard's Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks), Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.

Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher
complications following a liver transplant in 1995. He was 47. Gallagher is considered one of the premiere Irish blues/rock guitarists of all time. He formed the band, Taste, in 1966 and later persued a phenomenal solo career. He collaborated with legendary bluesman, Muddy Waters, in the 1970s. Gallagher's albums include Rory Gallagher, Deuce, Tattoo, Blueprint, and Irish Tour.

The Shangri-Las

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

Mary Ann Ganser
encephalitis (1971); 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"

Francisco Garcia
died after an undisclosed illness in 1996. He was 49. Garcia was the lead singer for Cannibal and the Headhunters, who opened for the Beatles, the Temptations, the Miracles and the Supremes. 1965's "Land Of 1000 Dances"

Badfinger

Badfinger: Mike Gibbins (d. 2005),

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

Mike Gibbins
natural causes; 2005. He was 56. Gibbins, drummer for the tragedy-plagued Badfinger, died in his sleep. His bandmates, Pete Ham (see 1975) and Tom Evans (see 1983), both hanged themselves when the group fell on hard times. 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)"

Ray Gillen
AIDS-related illness in 1993. He was 34. Gillen was briefly the singer for Black Sabbath. He recorded 1987's The Eternal Idol album, but after leaving the group, his vocals were replaced. Gillen formed the Badlands, recording the albums, Badlands, Voodoo Highway, and Dusk.

*Glen Lamont Goins
systemic disorder (1978); 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"

Johnny Guitar
(John Byrnes), motor neurone disease (1999). He was 59. Guitar was a member of The Hurricanes with Rory Storm (see 1972) and future Beatle Ringo Starr. Dr. Feelgood," America"

Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie

*Woody Guthrie
(Woodrow Wilson Guthrie), Huntington's Chorea; 1967. Folk hero. Wrote over 1000 songs, folksy-protest ballads. By the mid-1940s, Guthrie began experiencing bouts of depression and disorientation that signaled the onset of Huntington's Chorea (a genetic disorder that had afflicted his mother). His health slowly deteriorated and he was eventually confined to hospitals. He died at the age of 55, leaving behind 3 wives and eight children, including folk singer Arlo Guthrie. Woody Guthrie was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. He was honored again in 1996 with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame American Music Masters Series. In 1997, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. This Land is Your Land," Dust Bowl Refugees," So Long, It's Been Good to Know You," Grand Coulee Dam"

Eddie Guzman
complications of diabetes (1993). He was 49. Guzman played the conga for rock/soul group, Rare Earth. Fellow band members Mark David Olson died of chronic alcohol consumption (1991), and John Persh succumbed to a staph infection (1976). "I Just Want to Celebrate," "Hey, Big Brother," and covers of The Temptations' "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and "Get Ready"

Jeff Hanneman
liver failure (2013). He was 49. Hanneman was co-founder and guitarist for the thrash metal band, Slayer. The group won two Grammy Awards for "Best Metal Performance" for 2007's "Eyes of the Insane" and 2008's "Final Six". "Hate Worldwide," "World Painted Blood"

*Eddie Hazel
internal bleeding and liver failure after a lengthy battle with stomach problems (1992); he was 42. Hazel was the pioneering guitarist for Parliament-Funkadelic, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2003, Rolling Stone Magazine named Hazel one of the greatest guitarists of all time (ranking number 43). Hazel was predeceased by fellow band member, Glenn Lamont Goins (1978), and was followed by Garry Shider (2010). "Flash Light," "One Nation Under a Groove," "Aqua Boogie," "(Not Just) Knee Deep"

Heavy D

Heavy D

Heavy D
(Dwight Arrington Myers), respiratory ailment; 2011. Heavy D was was returning home when he experienced difficulty breathing and collapsed in the hallway of his condominium. He died at the hospital, approximately 90 minutes later. The singer was 44, weighing almost 350 pounds. Heavy D was nominated for four Grammy Awards and four Soul Train Awards (one of which he won, for the 1990 album, Big Tyme). Heavy D & the Boyz: "Now That We Found Love" and themes for the TV programs, In Living Color and MADtv. Heavy D also appears on Michael Jackson's (see 2009) single "Jam" and Janet Jackson's single "Alright".

Jim Henson

Jim Henson

Jim Henson
bacterial pneumonia (1990). He was 53. Henson created The Muppets, who scored two hits: "Rubber Duckie" in 1970 and "Rainbow Connection" in 1979.

*Marvin Isley
complications from diabetes in 2010. He was 56. Isley was a member of the Isley Brothers, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and Isley-Jasper-Isley, who had a #1 hit in with "Caravan of Love". Isley had both legs removed because of his diabetes in 1997. The Isleys: "Fight the Power," "I Wanna be With You," "The Pride," "Take Me to the Next Phase," "Between the Sheets"

Rick James

Rick James

Rick James
(James Johnson, Jr.), existing medical conditions (2004). He was 56. James, nephew of the Temptations' Melvin Franklin (see 1995), was notorious for his tangles with sex, drugs, and the law. James became a funk favorite after the success of his hit, "Super Freak." He produced songs for Teena Marie (died 2010) and Eddie Murphy ("Party All the Time") and won Grammy Awards for his album Street Songs and his collaboration with M.C. Hammer on "U Can't Touch This," which incorpoarted samples from "Super Freak." "Give It to Me Baby," "17," "Glow"

Daniel Johnston
"natural causes" after being hospitalized with a kidney ailment in 2019; he was 58. Johnston was an influential artist who was admired by the likes of Kurt Cobain (see 1994), Matt Groening and Tom Waits. Artists such as Pearl Jam, The Flaming Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, and Beck covered his songs. “Life in Vain,” “True Love Will Find You in the End,” “Walking the Cow”

*Orville "Hoppy" Jones
brain hemorrage in 1944. He was 39. Jones was the bass vocalist for the vocal quartet, The Ink Spots. According to a letter to the editor of "Good Old Days Magazine" (June 2009), a couple helped some stranded motorists near Seneca, Kansas. As a thank you, the group gave the couple a photo of themselves - The Ink Spots. A few weeks later, a color television arrived, courtesy of the vocal group. The Ink Spots were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. "If I Didn't Care," "I Don't Want to Set the World On Fire," "Maybe"

Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin
dementia paralytica (1917), the result of suffering most of his life with syphilis. He was 49. The "King of Ragtime" composed "Treemonisha," the first grand opera by an African American. In 1973, his music was featured in the film, "The Sting," which won an Academy Award for its score. In 1976, Joplin was awarded a citation for his contributions to American music. "Maple Leaf Rag," "The Entertainer"

*Keith Knudsen
pneumonia (2005); he was 56. Knudsen had played for Southern Pacific and been drummer for the Doobie Brothers since 1974 along with conga player Bobby LaKind (see 1992) and saxophonist Cornelius Bumpus (see 2004). He battled cancer in 1995. The Doobie Brothers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. With the Doobies: "Takin it to the Streets," "Black Water," "China Grove"

Cub Koda
(Michael Koda), kidney disease (2000). He was 51. Koda was the leader of Brownsville Station and a successgul solo blues artist. He was editor of The All Music Guide to Blues and writer/editor of Blues for Dummies. With Brownsville Station: Smokin' in the Boys Room." As a solo artist: Let's Hear a Word (For the Folks in the Cemetery)," Sneakers on a Rooster," Jail Bait"

The Small Faces

The Small Faces:

Kenney Jones, Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane (d. 1997) and Steve Marriott (d. 1991).

Ronnie Lane
(Ronald Frederick Lane), multiple sclerosis (1997). He was 51. Lane was a co-founder of the '60s mod band, The Small Faces, who were awarded the Ivor Novello Oustanding Contribution to British Music "Lifetime Achievement" Award in 1996. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. (Lane's fellow founding member, Steve Marriott, died in a house fire in 1991.) "Itchycoo Park," "Tin Soldier," "Lazy Sunday," "All or Nothing"

Nicolette Larson
liver failure in 1997. She was 45. 1978's "Lotta Love"

Sean Levert
brief illness; 2008. He was 39. Levert was incarcerated at the time (and transported to the hospital) for failing to pay child support. Supposedly he suffered from high blood pressure and was hallucinating while in jail. He was a member of LeVert with his brother Gerald, who died in 2006 of an accidental mix of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Their father was O'Jays member, Eddie Levert, Sr. "Casanova," ""Baby I'm Ready," and "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind"

Billy Lyall
Billy (William) Lyall died of AIDS-related causes in 1989, aged 36. Lyall was keyboard player, vocalist and occasional flautist with Pilot, and an early member of the Bay City Rollers. He was keyboard player for Dollar for a few years and also contributed to The Alan Parsons Project. He released a solo album, Solo Casting.

Teena Marie

Teena Marie

Teena Marie
(Mary Christine Brockert), unknown medical causes in 2010. She was 54. Marie, a protege of Rick James (died 2004), was a white R&B singer who was noted for her soulful "black" vocals. The "Ivory Queen of Soul" was found dead in her home; she apparently passed away in her sleep. Marie had suffered a grand mal seizure just a month prior. Her biggest hit, "Lovergirl," reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 (1984). "I'm a Sucker for Your Love" (with Rick James), "Square Biz," "Ooh La La La"

Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield

*Curtis Mayfield
complications from quadriplegia; 1999. He was 57. Mayfield was a member of the Impressions and a successful solo artist. He was performing outdoors when the wind blew a lighting rig down upon him, paralyzing him from the neck down. Mayfield was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice: with the Impressions in 1991 and as a solo artist in 1999. People Get Ready," Superfly"

Clyde McPhatter

Clyde McPhatter

*Clyde McPhatter
liver, kidney, and heart failure (1972) 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"

Jimmy McShane
(James Harry McShane), AIDS in 1995. He was 37. McShane was the lead singer of Baltimora, who had a hit in the '80s with "Tarzan Boy" which still features in commercials.

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury

*Freddie Mercury
(Farrokh Bulsara), AIDS; 1991. He was 45. Singer for Queen, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Mercury was music's first superstar-turned-AIDS casualty. Another One Bites the Dust," We Are the Champions," Bohemian Rhapsody"

Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus
Lou Gehrig's disease (1979); 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"

Mercededs Navarro Murciano
pneumonia in 2007; she was 49. The Cuban-born singer/songwriter was a member of Miami Sound Machine, and shared vocals with Gloria Estefan on the band's first release, Otra Vez. This was the only album on which Murciano appeared. In later years, Miami Sound Machine would hit the charts with the singles "Bad Boy," "Conga," "The Words Get in the Way," and "Rhythm is Gonna Get You."

Brittany Murphy

Brittany Murphy
combination of pneumonia, an iron deficiency and "multiple drug intoxication," in 2009; she was 32. Murphy was better known for her acting (Clueless, 8 Mile and Girl, Interrupted), but she was also a singer. She was in a band in the early '90s called Blessed Soul (with actor Eric Balfour) and in 2006, she and Paul Oakenfold had a club hit with the single "Faster Kill Pussycat." (The song reached number one on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart.) Murphy also covered Queen's "Somebody to Love" and Earth, Wind & Fire's "Boogie Wonderland" for the soundtrack to the film, Happy Feet. Murphy was found at her home, unconscious in full cardiac arrest.

*Joey Negroni
cerebral brain hemorrhage (1978). 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?"

*George Nelson
fatally gagged during an asthma attack in 1959. He was 33. Nelson was a vocalist for The Orioles ("the first R&B vocal group") and was involved in the auto accident that claimed the life of Orioles' guitarist Tommy Gaither (see 1950). The Orioles were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as an "Early Influence" in 1995. "It's Too Soon to Know," "Tell Me So," "Crying in the Chapel"

Nico

Nico

Nico
(Christa Paffgen), cerebral hemorrhage in 1988, in Spain. Occasional singer with the Velvet Underground and an actress, she was 49. Nico was not included with the Velvets for their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1996. All Tomorrow's Parties," I'll Be Your Mirror"

Klaus Nomi

Klaus Nomi

Klaus Nomi
(Klaus Sperber), AIDS (1983); he was 39. Nomi was an eclectic performance artist, who often combined opera, disco and rock. His theatrical presentations involved stage effects, flamboyant costumes and outrageous make-up. Prior to his career as a performer, Nomi supported himself as a pastry chef, supposedly working at the World Trade Center. Albums include: Klaus Nomi, Simple Man, and Encore.

Nervous Norvus
(James Drake), liver failure in 1968. He was 56. Norvus reached #8 with the 1956 novelty tune, Transfusion."

Charlie Parker

"Bird" Charlie Parker

Charlie "Yardbird" Parker
(Charles Christopher Parker, Jr.), pneumonia (1955). Innovative jazz saxophonist who worked with artists such as bassist Charles Mingus (see 1979). Parker suffered form ulcers and cirrhosis of the liver possibly caused by heroin addiction; he was 34. "A Night in Tunisia," "Groovin' High," "Repetition"

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"

Bill Pickering
aneurysm; age 58. Pickering was a DJ - the first to play Buddy Holly's solo effort, "Blue Days, Black Nights" - and later, a back-up singer for Holly. The Pickering Brothers ("The Picks"), were overdubbed on several Holly classics, including "Oh, Boy!" and "Maybe Baby," but were never credited for their contributions. In 1959, when Holly died, Pickering sang at his funeral. The group disbanded, but reunited in 1969. Unfortunately, the group was sidelined in 1974; Pickering suffered his first stroke, rendering him blind for nearly two years. He recorded once more, ten years later, again overdubbing on Holly tracks. He was motivated by Maria Elena Santiago, Holly's widow, when she related how Holly had wanted to work with The Picks again. The overdubs were Pickering's last foray into music. He died in 1985, in Holly's hometown of Lubbock, Texas. The Picks were inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the New Mexico Music Hall of Fame, and received the West Texas Music Hall of Fame Music Pioneer Award. Read about Pickering's connection to the Curse of Buddy Holly.

Jesse Pintado
diabetic coma in 2006. Pintado was a long-standing guitarist for the death metal group, Napalm Death. He appeared on seven Napalm Death studio albums between 1990-2000, including Harmony Corruption, Utopia Banished, and Inside the Torn Apart. Pintado also played in the groups Terrorizer and Lock Up. He was 37 at the time of his death. With Napalm Death: "Suffer the Children," "If the Truth Be Known," "I Abstain"

Mike Porcaro
Lou Gehrig's Disease, 2015. Porcaro was the bassist for the band, Toto (and brother to Jeff). The group garnered six Grammy Awards in its heyday. Porcaro was 59. "Africa," "Rosanna," "Hold the Line"

PM Dawn

P.M. Dawn: Prince Be and DJ Minutemix

Prince Be
(Attrell Cordes), diabetes and renal disease in 2016. He was 46. Cordes founded the psychedelic '90s R&B group, P.M. Dawn, with his brother, Jarrett (DJ Minutemix). "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," "I'd Die Without You," "Looking Through Patient Eyes"

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"

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"

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"

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.

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.)

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.

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

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.

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.

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"

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"

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"

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."

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"

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)"

Georgeanna Tillman
sicklel cell anemia (1980). She was 36. Tillman was a member of the Motown girl-group, The Marvelettes. "Please Mr Postman," Someday, Someway," Too Many Fish in the Sea"

Conway Twitty

Conway Twitty

#Conway Twitty
(Harold Jenkins), abdominal aneurysm in 1993. He was 59. Twitty was a successful country musician who enjoyed early pop success with the hit It's Only Make Believe." Twitty was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and he was also inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Hello Darlin'," After the Fire is Gone" (with Loretta Lynn), Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" (also with Lynn)

Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross
2005, complications from a stroke suffered in 2003. Luther Ronzoni Vandross, a Grammy-winning soul vocalist, claimed to have lost 100 pounds - 13 times in his life. He also suffered from hypertension and diabetes. He remained in a coma for two months after his 2003 stroke and never completely recovered. He was 54. "Here and Now," "Give Me the Reason," "Power of Love/Love Power," "The Best Things in Life Are Free" (duet with Janet Jackson)

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).

Henry "Sunflower" Vestine
respiratory failure; he was 52. Vestine was an original member of Canned Heat, with Al "Blind Owl" Wilson (see 1970) and Bob "The Bear" Hite (see 1981). Vestine was found dead in his hotel room in 1997. In 2003, Rolling Stone Magazine named Vestine one of greatest guitarist of all time (ranking number 77). "Same All Over," "Let's Work Together," "Time Was," "Boogie Music," "On the Road Again"

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 (1971); 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'"

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.

Helen Wheels
(Helen Robbins), staph infection. 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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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."

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"

*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"