Thursday, July 31, 2008

Most Shocking Rock and Roll Deaths

By Rachel and Douglas

Let us start by saying that by “most shocking” deaths, we’re not referring to the typical rock star drug overdose or alcohol induced death (Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Layne Staley, Shannon Hoon, Bradley Nowell, Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin, Hank Williams, etc.). This list is strictly based on shocking, unexpected deaths that took the entire world by surprise.


Sam Cooke (33 yrs old)

Sam Cooke
Cooke died on December 11, 1964, in Los Angeles, California. He was shot to death by Bertha Franklin, manager of the Hacienda Motel in South Los Angeles, who claimed that he had threatened her, and that she killed him in self-defense. The shooting was ultimately ruled to be a justifiable homicide.

John Lennon (40 yrs old)

John Lennon
On the evening of December 8, 1980, Lennon was shot 4 times in the back outside his apartment building, the Dakota, in New York City by Mark Chapman, for whom Lennon had signed an autograph earlier that evening. Chapman was charged with 2nd degree murder and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. To this day, after 28 years, he is still behind bars.

Marvin Gaye (44 yrs old)

Marvin Gaye
On April 1, 1984, the day before his 45th birthday, Gaye’s father shot and killed him after an argument that had started after his parents argued over misplaced business documents. His father pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received 6 years of probation. Charges of first degree murder were dropped after the discovery of Marvin Sr’s brain tumor.

Selena (23 yrs old)

At the Days Inn hotel in Corpus Christi on the morning of March 31, 1995, the “queen of Tejano music” was shot in the back by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldívar, after learning that Saldivar had been embezzling money from the Latina star’s boutiques. The movie, “Selena,” starring Jennifer Lopez was made based on the story about Selena’s life and murder.

Tupac Shakur (25 yrs old)

On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. The murder remains unsolved. Some speculate that because of the “feud” between Tupac and Biggie, that maybe Biggie collaborated in the murder. He, as well as his family, relatives, and associates, have vehemently denied the accusation.

Notorious B.I.G. (24 yrs old)

Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie was gunned down in Los Angeles in March 9, 1997. He was in California to promote his upcoming album, “Life After Death.” The murder remains unsolved although there are numerous theories about who was responsible, including ones that implicate the Southside Compton Crips and Marion “Suge” Knight, co-founder of Death Row Records.

Jam-Master Jay of Run DMC (37 yrs old)

On October 30, 2002, Jam-Master Jay (real name, Jason Mizell) was shot and killed in a Queens, New York, recording studio. A 2003 affidavit says: “Law enforcement agents are investigating the possibility that [Jason] Mizell was murdered for defying the blacklist of 50 Cent.”

Dimebag Darell Abbott of Pantera & Damageplan (37 yrs old)

On December 8, 2004, while performing with Damageplan at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Abbott was shot onstage by a paranoid schizophrenic former US Marine named Nathan Gale. Abbott was shot three times in the head, killing him instantly. Three others were killed in the shooting. Damageplan’s drum technician, John “Kat” Brooks, and tour manager, Chris Paluska, were injured in the attack.


Buddy Holly (22 years old), Richie Valens (17 years old) & the Big Bopper (28 years old)

Buddy Holly
After a show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 2, 1959, Buddy Holly chartered a Beechcraft Bonanza to take him and backing band the Crickets to Fargo, North Dakota, for the next gig. The Big Bopper asked Cricket, Waylon Jennings, for his spot on the four-seat plane, as he was recovering from the flu. Ritchie Valens was still signing autographs at the concert site when Allsup walked in and told him it was time to go. Allsup pulled a 50 cent coin out of his pocket and the two men flipped for the seat. Allsup lost. The plane took off in light snow and gusty winds at around 12:55 A.M., but crashed after only a few minutes. All aboard, including the pilot were killed. Don McLean famously referred to this tragedy as the “day the music died” in his hit single, “American Pie.”

Jim Croce (30 yrs old)

Jim Croce
Croce died in a small commercial plane crash on September 20, 1973, one day before his third ABC album, “I Got a Name” was to be released.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant (29 yrs old), Steve & Cassie Gaines (28 & 29 yrs old)

Lynyrd Skynyrd
On Thursday, October 20, 1977, just three days after the release of “Street Survivors,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s chartered Convair 240 ran out of fuel and crashed in a forest near McComb, Mississippi. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, and the pilot and co-pilot were all killed on impact. Other band members were injured, some seriously.

Randy Rhoads of Ozzy Osbourne’s band (25 yrs old)

Ozzy Osbourne
On March 19, 1982, Ozzy’s tour bus driver, Andrew Aycock, took Rhoads and hairdresser Rachel Youngblood on a flight in a Beechcraft Bonanza he had taken without permission. Apparently, during the flight, an attempt was made to “buzz” the tour bus where the other band members were sleeping. They succeeded two times but the third attempt went wrong. The right wing clipped the left side of the tour bus by accident, leading to the crash of the plane into Calhoun’s nearby mansion. Nobody in the mansion was hurt. Rhoads, age 25, was killed instantly,

Stevie Ray Vaughan (35 yrs old)

Stevie Ray Vaughan
On August 26, 1990, after a concert with Eric Clapton at Alpine Valley Music Theatre, just outside of East Troy, Wisconsin, Stevie Ray Vaughan boarded a helicopter with members of Clapton’s crew for a flight to Chicago. Moments after takeoff the helicopter crashed into a ski slope and all five on board were killed.

Bill Graham (60 yrs old)

Grateful Dead
The legendary concert promoter (who ran the famous venues the Fillmore West and Winterland, both in San Francisco, and the Fillmore East, in New York City, was killed in a helicopter crash near Vallejo, California in 1991, while returning home from a Huey Lewis and the News concert at the Concord Pavilion.

John Denver (53 yrs old)

John Denver
On October 12, 1997, Denver was killed when the Long-EZ aircraft he was piloting crashed just off the coast of California at Pacific Grove, shortly after taking off from the Monterey Peninsula Airport. The Long-EZ is a two-seat experimental aircraft, designed in the 1970s by Burt Rutan.

Aaliyah (22 yrs old)

On August 25, 2001, after filming the music video for her hit single “Rock the Boat,” Aaliyah and her record label staff boarded a twin engine Cessna 402B in the Bahamas to head back to Miami. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, leaving no survivors. The accident was believed to have been caused by excess weight.


Nick Drake (26 yrs old)

Nick Drake
In the early hours of 25 November, 1974, Nick Drake died at home in Far Leys from an overdose of amitriptyline, a type of antidepressant. Officially ruled a suicide (as Drake had long suffered from sometimes debilitating depression), family members have argued that it was an accidental overdose. No suicide note was ever found.

Ian Curtis of Joy Division (23 yrs old)

Joy Division
On May 18, 1980, Curtis hanged himself in his kitchen after having viewed Werner Herzog’s film “Stroszek” and listening to Iggy Pop’s “The Idiot.” Curtis’s suicide took place just before Joy Division were to embark on their first U.S. tour.

Kurt Cobain (27 yrs old)

Shortly after his marriage to Hole vocalist Courtney Love and the birth of their daughter Frances Bean, Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home on April 8, 1994 from a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. Traces of heroin and valium were found in his body and a suicide note was left, stating that he hadn’t felt the excitement of creating and writing music for the past few years. Cobain is now often remembered as one of the most iconic musicians in the history of rock.

Michael Hutchence of INXS (37 yrs old)

On the morning of November 22, 1997, Hutchence, aged 37, was found dead in his room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Sydney. A belt found at the scene suggested that he had died by hanging. The coroner determined that Hutchence’s death was the result of suicide but some suggest that the cause of death may have resulted from autoerotic asphyxiation (strangling himself during a sex act).

Elliot Smith (34 yrs old)

Elliott Smith
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this one. Elliott Smith died on October 21, 2003 from two stab wounds to the chest. According to girlfriend Jennifer Chiba, with whom he was living at the time, the two were arguing, and she locked herself in the bathroom. Chiba heard him scream, and upon opening the door, saw Smith standing with a kitchen knife in his chest. She pulled the knife out, after which he collapsed and she called 911. Smith died soon after in the hospital. While Smith’s death was originally reported as a suicide, the official autopsy report released in December 2003 left open the question of possible homicide. A possible suicide note, written on a Post-it, read, “I’m so sorry—love, Elliott. God forgive me.”


Duane Allman & Berry Oakley of the Allman Brothers Band (both 24 yrs old)

Allman Brothers
Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia just after the release of “At Fillmore East.” In a bizarre coincidence, bassist Berry Oakley would die less than 13 months later in a similar motorcycle crash with a city bus, just three blocks away from the site of Allman’s fatal accident.

Marc Bolan of T. Rex (29 yrs old)

Bolan died on September 16, 1977. He was a passenger in a purple Mini 1275GT driven by Gloria Jones as they headed home from a London pub. Jones lost control of the speeding car and it struck a tree, killing Bolan instantly.

Harry Chapin (38 yrs old)

Harry Chapin
Chapin was killed on his way to a gig on July 16, 1981, when a tractor-trailer slammed into the back of his 1975 Volkswagen Rabbit, rupturing the gas tank and causing it to burst into flames.

Cliff Burton of Metallica (24 yrs old)

On September 27, 1986, in rural southern Sweden during a European tour in support of “Master of Puppets,” Metallica’s tour bus ran over a patch of black ice, skidded off of the road, and flipped over. Burton was thrown through the window of the bus, which fell on top of him and killed him.

Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC (30 yrs old)

Lopes had just begun working on TLC’s 4th album when she was killed in a car crash in Honduras on April 25, 2002.


Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones (27 yrs old)

The Rolling Stones
At around midnight on 3 July 1969, Jones was discovered motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool at his home in Hartfield, Sussex, England. The coroner’s report stated “Death by misadventure.” Some felt it was suicide. Others claimed he was murdered by a builder who had been renovating the house.

Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys (39 yrs old)

Dennis Wilson
Wilson died in an alcohol-related drowning at Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles, on December 28, 1983. On the day of his death, Wilson was quoted as saying “I’m lonesome. I’m lonesome all the time.” Ironic that a Beach Boy should drown.

Jeff Buckley (30 years old)

Jeff Buckley
On June 4th, 1997, Buckley accidentally drowned while taking a leisurely swim in the Mississippi River. The autopsy confirmed that Buckley had taken no drugs before his fateful swim, and a drug overdose was ruled out as the cause of death.


Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention (31 yrs old)

Sandy Denny
Sandy Denny died of a traumatic mid-brain hemorrhage on April 21, 1978, due to complications arising from a fall down a flight of stairs during a holiday with her parents. A month after the fall she collapsed at a friend’s home and died four days later. It has been suggested that Denny’s hemorrhage was caused by a brain tumor.

Sonny Bono (62 yrs old)

Sonny and Cher
On January 5, 1998, Bono died of injuries after striking a tree while skiing in in Nevada.

Spinal Tap drummers (various ages)

Spinal Tap
Spinal Tap has had a succession of drummers, all of whom they claim have died under odd circumstances: one in a “bizarre gardening accident”; another “choked on vomit,” (although it was never determined whose vomit it was, as “you can’t really dust for vomit”), and a third from apparent spontaneous human combustion onstage, leaving only a small green “globule” on his drum throne.

Original here

1 comment:

Sam's Neph said...

Sam Cooke's death wasn't as cut and dried as reported. There were a lot of things going on behind the scenes that haven't been talked about...until now.

Erik Greene
Author, “Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective”