Being a rock star is probably pretty great and certainly one of the top fantasy jobs for lots of guys. However, with all that fame and glory come lots of hazards that can contribute to an early death. Skipping over the usual suspects — your Lennons and Cobains and mixing it up a bit (thus the asterisk in the title), we’ve got just about everything from murder to drowning, with a fair bit of controversy thrown in for good measure. So without further ado, here are Guyism’s eight most infamous rock star deaths.
Photo credit: cogdogblog, Flickr
8 Cliff Burton, age: 25 – Metallica
Cliff Burton helped provide the groove to Metallica’s domination of thrash metal in the 1980s and lived up to the hard partying lifestyle with his fellow band mates. However, it wasn’t the booze that d brought the reaper knocking. While sleeping on the bus in route to gig in Sweden, the bus flipped over sending Cliff out the window and then rolling over and crushing him. The cause of the accident isn’t entirely clear. Some say weather conditions were to blame others claim the driver was drunk, either way Metallica forged ahead. Cuz, that’s metal, man!
7 Bon Scott, age: 33 – AC/DC
Hey there, young rockers, we know you like to party after the show with the groupies and what not. But take a note from former AC/DC front man Bon Scott — don’t get so plastered that you pass out in a car in below freezing temperatures and choke to death on your own vomit. It’s gross and really pisses off your band mates. Some say Scott choked others claim it was hypothermia, but regardless, rock lost a great front-man. And what about lil old AC/DC you ask? Well, they went on to finish the monumental album Back in Black, which they had already started writing with Scott before he expired.
6 “Mama” Cass Elliot, age: 32 – The Mamas & The Papas
Part of the popular 1960s folk group, The Mamas & The Papas, Cass Elliot was… how should I say, on the bigger side of the scale. After a string of shows in London, Cass was found dead with a partially eaten ham sandwich by her bedside — and behold, the legend of Mama Cass choking to death while shoving food into her face is born! Whether or not this actually happened has been debated for years, but the coroner’s cause of death was ruled, “fatty myocardial degeneration due to obesity.” Damn, that sounds even worse than choking to death! Take note, Kirstie Alley, that’s all I’m saying…
5 Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott, age: 38 – Pantera
Probably one of heavy metal’s best guitarists, Dimebag was generally known as a friendly outgoing guy among his peers and fans, which made it even more surprising that he was murdered. Here’s the scoop, Darrell was performing with his new band Damageplan in an Ohio nightclub when a schizophrenic fan, charged the stage and shot Darrel, killing him and three others. It’s one thing to be shot while walking home to your pad (John Lennon) or by your father (Marvin Gaye) but c’mon, let the guy finish his guitar solo!
4 Brian Jones, age: 27 – The Rolling Stones
A founding member of the Stones, Brian Jones was always a bit of an outsider from the rest of the group, but a talented multi-instrumentalist nonetheless. The guy liked to party and was found motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool by his model girlfriend at the time. The official cause on his death certificate read, “death by misadventure” which I gotta say, sounds a lot cooler than how Elvis went out. Some rock historians attribute that this “misadventure” was actually homicide at the hands of a construction worker who had been working on the rocker’s home.
3 Randy Rhoads, age: 25 – Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot
Okay, so a lot of rock stars have died in plane crashes- Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Holly, half of Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc etc. But I’m gonna mention Randy Rhodes simply because he was so awesome and it’s my list (go make your own if you don’t like it). Ozzy Osbourne probably wouldn’t have had a career after Black Sabbath if not for hiring young axe virtuoso Randy Rhodes. During a tour stop, Rhodes and the band’s hairdresser went for a plane joyride while the rest of the band napped on the bus. Upon flying too close to the ground the plane’s pilot clipped the bus and crashed the plane, killing all on board. Bummer.
Check out the Rhoads and Ozzy paying tribute to fellow fallen rock star Bon Scott in this clip.
2 Michael Hutchence, age: 37 – INXS
So whatever get’s you off sexually that’s your own business, just make sure it doesn’t kill you in the process. Before David Carradine kicked the bucket with a belt around his neck while getting his rocks off there was Aussie singer Michael Hutchence of INXS. Some say it was a suicide over distress from problems with his girlfriend, others claim it was autoerotic asphyxiation. Whatever the real reason, Hutchence bit the dust too early and INXS went on to appear on a horrible American Idol type reality show to find a new singer.
1 Johnny Ace, age: 25 – R&B singer
It’s probably a good idea that if your kid tells you he wants to be a blues musician to talk him out of it. Death, heartbreak, deals with the devil… there’s just too many cons in that profession. Memphis born Johnny Ace was a rhythm & blues singer with a bright future ahead of him… until he shot himself in the head. Apparently, while “killing” time on the bus (get it, get it?) Ace was playing with his .22 revolver after a bit of drinking. Upon being warned by another passenger to be careful Ace said, “It’s okay, gun’s not loaded… see?” and the rest is history.