So many rock stars have wound up dead due to overdosing over the years. It’s the most common and expected way for these legends to meet their makers. Not all of them, however, have passed away because of drug abuse.
Living the rock n’ roll lifestyle presents the dangerous reality of “anything’s possible.” With so many vices taunting them day to day, it becomes the ultimate test of self-control. Building the persona is a big part of being a rock star. Proving they’re the craziest rocker out there is an ongoing feat which most rockers feel the urge to take on. However, this type of thinking usually leads to the idea of being indestructible. Many rock stars have referred to themselves as gods in one way or another but the harsh truth is… They’re not.
With that said, not every musician who’s passed on can be held responsible for their own deaths. Freak accidents do happen. All causes aside, we have lost too many greats way too soon: John Bonham, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and John Lennon, just to name a few. All are dearly missed and will forever be remembered. This list reminds us of a few rockers who found themselves taking that trip to the other side in the most unexpected ways imaginable.
10. Keith Relf – The Yardbirds
Vocalist Keith Relf got to perform alongside three of rock n’ rolls most talented guitarists – Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck – in the English rock band The Yardbirds. Following the band’s break up in 1968, Relf went on to form an acoustic duo called Together later re-named Renaissance, with fellow Yardbird Jim McCarty.
After Keith’s departure from Renaissance, he took on the role as a producer in the 1970s. Shortly after, this multi-talented artist was electrocuted to death in his own home, due to an improperly grounded guitar. The ambitious brit was only 33 when he died.
9. Jeff Buckley
Best known for his astounding vocals, this young singer, songwriter and guitarist was considered one of the greatest singers of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. Jeff Buckley’s father Tim Buckley was also a famous musician best known for his beautifully written folk songs. Just as this aspiring artist began to blow up, he was pulled away from us by the waters of the Mississippi River.
On May 29, 1997, Buckley went for a swim in the Wolf Creek Harbor, fully dressed, boots and all. He was with roadie and friend Keith Foti at the time, who said Buckley disappeared after a tug boat had passed by. His body was only found days later on June 4th by two locals. Buckley’s autopsy showed no signs of drugs or alcohol in his system and the death was ruled as an accidental drowning.
8. Terry Kath – Chicago
Founding member of rock band Chicago, Terry Kath met an unfortunate fate due to his interest in guns. Even though he had a history of drug abuse and was even reported saying “I’m going to get things under control … if I don’t, this stuff is going to kill me”, he wound up dead by other means.
During a party at band technician Don Johnson’s Los Angeles home, Kath jokingly picked up an unloaded 38. revolver and aimed it at his head, pulling the trigger several times. Caught up in his own laughter, he proceeded to re-enact the joke with a 9mm pistol whose clip he had removed. Little did he know there was still a round in the chamber. Kath died instantly once he pulled the trigger.
7. Cliff Burton – Metallica
Bassist Cliff Burton played with the highly successful metal band Metallica, proving his skills on the band’s first three studio albums, Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. Unfortunately, his time with the band was short lived after a fatal bus accident in southern Sweden.
During a long road trip between tour dates, Burton and fellow band mate Kirk Hammett drew cards to decide who would get first dibs on a bunk. Cliff won, drawing the ace of spades, but this victory would soon lead to his demise. Early the next morning, the bus hit a patch of black ice, sending Burton from his chosen top bunk through the window where he was then crushed under the weight of the band’s tour bus. The band was in total shock as they watched their friend and 24-year old bassist die in front of them.
6. Bobby Fuller – The Bobby Fuller Four
The death of this 1960s singer and songwriter has puzzled people for years. He was best known for his hit singles “I Fought the Law” – which has been covered by many famous musicians – and “Love Made a Fool of You”.
On July 18th, 1966, Fuller was found dead in a car outside his Hollywood apartment. He was covered in gasoline with multiple bruises and stab wounds. Countless theories have been made concerning his death, which involve murder, mob associations, and even speculation of Charles Manson. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain: Fuller died far too early at the age of 23.
5. Stevie Ray Vaughan
Arguably one of the greatest guitar players of all time, and a true legend among all blues fans out there, Stevie Ray Vaughan has written and performed some of the best blues songs in the history of the genre. Although the master guitar player had a long history of substance abuse, neither drugs nor alcohol played a role in his death.
After playing a show with Eric Clapton at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, Stevie, along with all of the other musicians, were to take helicopters back to Chicago. Despite the questionable foggy conditions that night, the pilots were instructed to leave anyway. Shortly after Vaughan’s helicopter took off it veered off course, crashing into the side of a ski hill, instantly killing him along with everyone else on board.
4. Mike Edwards – Electric Light Orchestra
Early member of British rock group Electric Light Orchestra or ELO, Mike Edwards was a multi-talented musician with an eccentric flair. Although he comes off as a shy, dapper man with a love for classical music, he has been known to dress in elaborate costumes and even blow up his instruments on stage.
With a long successful career in music, no one expected his abrupt death in 2010. During a drive along a rural country road in England, a 1, 300 pound cylindrical hay bale came rolling down a hillside and crushed Edward’s van, killing him instantly; this freak accident found no guilty perpetrators.
3. Randy Rhoads – Ozzy Osbourne
This guitar god is the genius behind some of Ozzy Osbourne’s greatest hits, including “Crazy Train”, “Mr. Crowley” and “Suicide Solution.” He is also recognized as a major influence on neo-classical metal. Although his time in the music world was short, he managed to prove his incredible skills on the electric guitar.
Rhoads’s tragic death was the result of some foolhardy shenanigans, which took place during a pit stop to fix their tour bus’ air conditioner. The tour bus driver and ex pilot Andrew Aycock thought it would be funny to fly a small Beechcraft plane over the tour bus whilst the remaining members, including Ozzy, were asleep inside. His first two attempts were successful, but on his third attempt he flew to close to the bus and clipped one of the wings, sending the plane spiraling out of control. Randy and the others aboard died on impact; their bodies were so badly burnt that they had to be identified by dental records.
2. Dimebag Darrell – Pantera
Founding member of metal band Pantera, Darrell Lance Abbott, better known as Dimebag Darrell, graced us with his guitar skills time and time again, but on December 8, 2004, a horrific shootout ended his reign as one of metal’s greatest shredders.
During a show with Darrell’s other band Damageplan, a crazed gunman, ex-marine Nathan Gale, emerged from the crowd holding a 9 mm Beretta pistol and shot Dimebag in the head three times. The gunman then proceeded to fire more rounds, killing four people and wounding seven others. The band’s head of security, Jeff “Mayhem” Thompson, was killed tackling Gale, as was an audience member who was trying to preform CPR on Darrell and Thompson. This travesty is one of the most shocking incidents in the history of dead musicians.
1. John Lennon – The Beatles
World famous singer, song writer and political activist John Lennon is most famous for his work in the wildly successful rock band The Beatles. He wrote and performed countless masterpieces alongside his band mates Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. When news broke out that the beloved Beatle had been shot, it shocked the world.
Upon arrival to his New York City apartment, Lennon was shot in the back four times by crazed fan Mark David Chapman. Police arrested gunman Chapman minutes after, who was reportedly grinning. Chapman was seen lurking around the building several hours before the shooting and claimed he had hounded Lennon for an autograph which he never got. Seems like quite an overreaction for not getting a signature; clearly he had some screws loose.