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  #1  
Old 06-22-2002, 03:42 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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Causes of death of deceased rock/rock 'n roll/pop musicians

Years ago I had a conversation with a former roomate about deceased rock and pop musicians. He pointed out that for most of them the cause of death fell into one of three main categories: substance abuse (drugs/alcohol), homicide/suicide, and transportation related. At the time we could think of very few exceptions, and even now there are relatively few:

Homicide/suicide:
Sam Cooke
Marvin Gaye
Brian Jones (according to some)
John Lennon
Kurt Cobain

Substance abuse:
Jimi Hendrix
Janis Joplin
Jim Morrison
Brian Jones (according to some)
Keith Moon

Transportation:
Buddy Holly
Big Bopper
Richie Valens (all plane)
Otis Redding (plane)
Jim Croce (plane)
Harry Chapin (car)
Stiv Bator (Lords of the New Church, hit by car)
Marc Bolan (T. Rex, car crash IIRC)
Stevie Ray Vaughn (helicopter crash IIRC)

Exceptions:
Elvis (heart attack, no drugs involved?)
Roy Orbison (heart. It was his death that sparked the conversation with my roomate)
Karen Carpenter (anorexia)
Mama Cass Elliot (heart, not ham sandwich)
Freddie Mercury (AIDS)
George Harrison (cancer)

As it is, one could question some of the exceptions. If you consider food a substance, than Elvis and Mama Cass could be in the substance abuse category, and George Harrison late in life indicated that he thought his cancer was caused by his decades of cigarette smoking.

The other amazing thing is thinking about people who are still alive but by all rights "should" be dead for any of several reasons(Keith Richards, Jerry Lee Lewis).

The reasons so many fit one of these patterns I guess isn't too mysterious. Rock is still a relatively young art form, so many of its founders are naturally still with us. The rock 'n roll lifestyle tends to encourage fast living (drugs, booze, fast cars), and maybe also tends to attract people of the tortured artist stripe. It is sad, though, that so many of these people have died in aviation accidents, usually on their way to or from a gig.

So, who have I forgotten? I am especially interested in any exceptions to the three main categories I have above.
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  #2  
Old 06-22-2002, 03:46 PM
ruadh ruadh is offline
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Who was the guy who was electrocuted by his guitar?
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  #3  
Old 06-22-2002, 03:49 PM
grendel72 grendel72 is offline
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Of course, Ricky Nelson had the ultimate rock death. A plane crash caused by setting the plane on fire while free-basing.
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  #4  
Old 06-22-2002, 03:55 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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I realized I forgot the "Bizzare Gardening Accident-Spontaneous Human Combustion" category.

Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes: car crash.
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  #5  
Old 06-22-2002, 03:55 PM
Big Kahuna Burger Big Kahuna Burger is offline
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A few more:
Ricky Nelson: Transporation (plane)
Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon): Substance Abuse
John Bonham: Substance Abuse
Paul Williams (The Temptations): Suicide
David Ruffin (The Temptations): Substance Abuse
Aaliyah: Transportation (plane)
If you include rap then:
Notorious B.I.G.: Homicide
Tupak Shakur: Homicide
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  #6  
Old 06-22-2002, 03:58 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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John Denver: plane crash
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  #7  
Old 06-22-2002, 03:59 PM
Big Kahuna Burger Big Kahuna Burger is offline
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Oh, and the general consensus on Brian Jones's death was either that he died of an asthma attack in the pool or was murdered. I haven't heard the drug overdose version. He had done a good deal of them during his short life, but IIRC he was clean at that point.
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  #8  
Old 06-22-2002, 04:11 PM
CptHowdy65 CptHowdy65 is offline
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Steve Gaines - Lynyrd Skynyrd - Plane
Ronnie Van Zant - Lynyrd Skynyrd - Plane
Duane Allman - Motorcycle Crash
Marc Bolen - T Rex - Car Crash
Johnny Ace - Playing Russian Roulette backstage - he lost !!
Les Harvey - Stone The Crows - electrocuted by touching live mike
Keith Relf - lead singer Yardbirds - dead in bathtub from electric
shock from guitar
Rory Storm - English group leader (Ringo was the drummer
prior to the Beatles) - suicide with head in the
oven along with his mother
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  #9  
Old 06-22-2002, 04:11 PM
Strainger Strainger is offline
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Weighing in with the Southern rockers

Ronnie Van Zandt, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines: plane crash
Lowell George (Little Feat): Drug-induced heart attack
Duane Allman: Motorcycle wreck (he ate a peach)
Tommy Caldwell (Marshall Tucker): Jeep accident
Toy Caldwell (Marshall Tucker): Heart attack in his sleep

While searching for the above, I found this website.
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  #10  
Old 06-22-2002, 04:17 PM
Sylkyn Sylkyn is offline
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Ronny Van Zant (lead singer of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd Band):
plane crash.


Bon Scott (original lead singer for AC/DC): overdose from narcotics plus alcohol.
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  #11  
Old 06-22-2002, 06:16 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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I forgot to put Sid Viscious (drugs) and Michael Hutchence (INXS, drugs).

Strainger, that site takes all the fun out of it!

What did Jerry Garcia die of? That site indicates it was drug-related, but I don't remember hearing that.
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  #12  
Old 06-22-2002, 06:25 PM
WSLer WSLer is offline
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Brad Nowell--Sublime heroin overdose
Layne Staley--Alice In Chains heroin overdose
As far as Garcia is concerned, I think that it was a heart attack, with drugs being a primary factor in causing the attack.
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  #13  
Old 06-22-2002, 06:31 PM
Ripple Ripple is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Laughing Lagomorph
What did Jerry Garcia die of? That site indicates it was drug-related, but I don't remember hearing that.
Jerry died of a heart attack in a detox center the night he checked in. Certainly years & years of abusing heroin played a major part in this. He was in extremely poor health for a long time, and his continuing drug use didn't help. this site has a decent summary.

As for the list...The Dead lost 3 keyboard players over the years. The first, Pigpen, died of liver failure as a direct result of a serious drinking problem. Keith Godchaux died in a car accident, and Brent Mydland died of an overdose.
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  #14  
Old 06-22-2002, 06:42 PM
Strainger Strainger is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Laughing Lagomorph
Strainger, that site takes all the fun out of it!
D'oh! Sorry. If a moderator wishes to delete the link, feel free to do so. I don't want to screw up the game here.
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  #15  
Old 06-22-2002, 07:57 PM
Jello Jello is offline
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All these guys were Grateful Dead keyboardists:

Pigpen (Ron McKernan): long illness and death caused by alcohol and the such, he was 27

Keith Godchaux: car crash in Marin County

Brent Mydland: drug overdose, his last show played was exactly ten years after Keith's death.
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  #16  
Old 06-22-2002, 08:25 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Strainger
D'oh! Sorry. If a moderator wishes to delete the link, feel free to do so. I don't want to screw up the game here.
No, no. I didn't mean it like that. It was a good find, and makes for interesting reading. Someone obviously did a lot of research. It just makes this little mental exercise of mine too easy!
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  #17  
Old 06-22-2002, 08:32 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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My bad

Michael Hutchence was suicide, not drugs. My mistake.

I was trying to remember the guy in the band Chicago who apparently accidentally shot himself. It was Terry Kath
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  #18  
Old 06-22-2002, 08:34 PM
reprise reprise is offline
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Has anyone mentioned Andy Gibb yet.
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  #19  
Old 06-22-2002, 08:35 PM
grendel72 grendel72 is offline
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Re: My bad

Quote:
Originally posted by Laughing Lagomorph
Michael Hutchence was suicide, not drugs.
I don't think he was trying to kill himself. It was autoerotic asphyxiation, which I would list as "death by misadventure".
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  #20  
Old 06-22-2002, 08:42 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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Re: Re: My bad

Quote:
Originally posted by grendel72
I don't think he was trying to kill himself. It was autoerotic asphyxiation, which I would list as "death by misadventure".
The coroner didn't seem to think so.
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  #21  
Old 06-22-2002, 09:05 PM
grendel72 grendel72 is offline
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Sorry about that.
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  #22  
Old 06-22-2002, 09:18 PM
Jeremy's Evil Twin Jeremy's Evil Twin is offline
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And while we're at it, Ricky Nelson's "freebasing while flying" death is also believed to be an urban legend.

Watching VH1's Behind the Music is like a cavalcade of the dead sometimes, every other show features a musician who dies before his time. The band Badfinger alone had TWO suicides.

Randy Rhodes (Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist) - plane crash
Cliff Burton (Metallica bass player) - bus crash
Layne Staley (Alice in Chains) - drugs, possibly suicide

Does cancer count as a rock & roll death? I don't think it should...
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  #23  
Old 06-22-2002, 09:34 PM
grendel72 grendel72 is offline
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OOF... a one-two punch of ignorance eradication. In my defense, I did know that the Cass Elliot/ ham sandwitch story was false.
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  #24  
Old 06-22-2002, 09:41 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jeremy's Evil Twin
...

Does cancer count as a rock & roll death? I don't think it should...
Why? Who were you thinking of?

I used to work in a lab at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and I remember talking with an MD there (oncologist) about Bob Marley's death. I speculated whether heavy marijuana smoking was a possible contributor to his cancer and the Doc didn't think it necessarily was. At that time (around 1988) there was little evidence that pot smoking was the type of causative that tobacco smoking is, according to him.
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  #25  
Old 06-23-2002, 03:16 AM
riserius1 riserius1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jeremy's Evil Twin

Randy Rhodes (Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist) - plane crash
Randy's death should be noted as unique in that he wasn't actually ON the plane when it crashed, he was inside the tour bus when the plane crashed into it.

Chris W
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  #26  
Old 06-23-2002, 03:25 AM
syncrolecyne syncrolecyne is offline
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We are almost at the point where rock stars might die simply of old age. Chuck Berry is already 74 or 75...and Little Richard just turned 70 (I think he still has quite a few years left though).
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  #27  
Old 06-23-2002, 05:12 AM
Coriolanus Coriolanus is offline
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All in the game

Two guys on the _Diner_ soundtrack:

Bobby Darin / 37 / multiple causes:

Bobby lived a life wracked with medical problems. Multiple bouts of Rheumatic Fever as a child left him with a damaged heart, which contributed to his death, but was not the ultimate cause. As innocuous as it may sound, a visit to the dentist in 1973 left him with a case of Septicemia that was not diagnosed until far too late. By then, he was comatose and heart valves that had been replaced in 1971 were seriously damaged. Bobby Darin passed away following surgery to repair that valve damage on December 20, 1973.

Tommy Edwards ("all in the game") / 47 / aneurysm

October 23, 1969, Tommy Edwards died in the town where he was born, Richmond, Va.
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  #28  
Old 06-23-2002, 05:23 AM
Coriolanus Coriolanus is offline
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D'oh.. left out credit for online sources for my post above:

Bobby Darin

Tommy Edwards

and I'll add from my memory:

Minnie Ripperton / 32 / breast cancer

Patty Donahue (The Waitresses) / 40 / lung cancer
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  #29  
Old 06-23-2002, 12:46 PM
Ave Minerva Ave Minerva is offline
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Dee Dee Ramone died of a drug overdose about 2 weeks ago.

A few others that haven't been mentioned:

Darby Crash (Germs) drug OD
Will Shatter (Flipper) drug OD
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  #30  
Old 06-23-2002, 01:33 PM
blindboygrunt blindboygrunt is offline
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The guitarist who died by being electricuted played for "Stone The Crows" back in the early 1970's. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones got a jolt once (there is a photo of Keith laying on the stage).
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  #31  
Old 06-23-2002, 02:15 PM
casdave casdave is offline
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Tim Hardin (sadly missed) Drugs overdose, his last album had no songs written by him, which is a sigh of how far this singer/songwriter had fallen, but his rendition of James Taylors 'Fire and rain' was disquietlingly prophetic, it was only a matter of time for him.

Ian Dury - Cancer, he had been injured by polio but never let it get in his way, to my mind he was an example of willpower overcoming personal adversity.

Billy Fury - Started out in a Rockabilly kind of style but it varied rather a lot. As a baby he was hit by rhuematic fever and this weakened his heart. He would have been a massive hit, especially in the US, but his heqalth was not up to the rigours of touring, eventually his heart failed he made it to 43.

Dusty Springfield, this was too sad, she had been making a comeback of sorts as a Grand Dame of music but was taken by breast cancer.

Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention and Fotheringay - also did some work with Led Zeppelin) Fell downstairs and died of a brain haemorrhage. Actually two other members of Fairport Convention died in a car crash and several others in the band were seriously injured, and along with the death of Sandy's partner Trevor Lucas some years later, it all goes to make the song 'Meet on the ledge', one of their numbers, a grimly appropriate piece, it sends a shiver down my spine when I hear it, no other song has ever been more chillingly evocative, except perhaps "Without You" as sung by the writing team of the group Badfinger and made much more famous by Nilsson.

Actually, thinking about Badfinger and Fairport Convention and their tragedies are a bit depressing they were part of the background to my life
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  #32  
Old 06-23-2002, 02:21 PM
Norrybaby Norrybaby is offline
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Just another exception: Frank Zappa-prostate cancer
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  #33  
Old 06-23-2002, 03:47 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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Randy Rhoades DID die in a plane crash, but not a conventional one. Indeed, Rhoades was a prime candidate for a Darwin Award. Ozzy Osbourne was sleeping off a bender in the tour bus, and Randy thought it would be hilarious to take a single engine plane up, fly low and "buzz" the tour bus, giving the groggy Ozzy a huge scare. He DID give Oz a scare, and I hope it was worth it (the plane crashed, killing Rhoades, moments later).

Other musical deaths I haven't seen previously:

Several rockers have hanged themselves, including Ian Curtis of Joy Division, Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger, Richard Manuel of the Band

Nico of the Velvet Underground fractured her skull after falling off a bicycle.

Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys drowned in a boating accident, while his brother Carl died of cancer.

Stiv Bator was hit by a car, then got up, brushed himself off, and went home, thinking he was okay. A few hours later, he died in his sleep of internal hemorrhaging.

Tom Fogerty of CCR died of tuberculosis.

Sonny Bono died in a skiing accident.

Def Leppard's guitarist Steve Clark died from a combination of booze and drugs.

Jackie Wilson had a heart attack on stage, which put him in a lengthy coma, and killed him several years later.

In the Small Faces, Steve Marriott died in a house fire, and bassist Ronnie Lane died from complications related to Multiple Sclerosis.
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  #34  
Old 06-23-2002, 04:57 PM
Daoloth Daoloth is offline
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Falco- car crash.
David Goettel (Skinny Puppy)- suicide.
Then some guy from Ministry also killed himself a couple years back..
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  #35  
Old 06-23-2002, 05:42 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by astorian

Tom Fogerty of CCR died of tuberculosis.
Hmm, Strainger's link above indicates Tom Fogerty died of AIDS from a blood transfusion, which seems more likely, unless his immune system was so weakened that he got tuberculosis.

BTW, Stiv Bator was mentioned in the OP.
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  #36  
Old 06-23-2002, 05:49 PM
Tranquilis Tranquilis is offline
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Jim Morrison -- Heart Attack
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  #37  
Old 06-23-2002, 06:04 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by astorian

Nico of the Velvet Underground fractured her skull after falling off a bicycle.
I believe the actual cause of her death was cereberal hemmorhage due to said bicycle accident. Heat exhaustion was almost certainly a factor in the accident, as she was wearing several layers of warm clothing on a hot day. And, as with so many rock deaths, there may have been drugs involved as well.
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  #38  
Old 06-23-2002, 07:53 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tranquilis
Jim Morrison -- Heart Attack
OK, I've done some research on this one. Heart failure was apparently the official cause of death on the death certificate, but no autopsy was done, and the general consensus seems to be that Jim's heavy drinking and heroin use at least contributed to his demise. I guess we'll never know for sure.

I was going to say that it was unusual for a person without a history of heart disease to die suddenly of a heart attack at such a young age, but I just read about that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, and it seems that that is exactly what happened to him.
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  #39  
Old 06-23-2002, 08:01 PM
Big Kahuna Burger Big Kahuna Burger is offline
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Quote:
I was going to say that it was unusual for a person without a history of heart disease to die suddenly of a heart attack at such a young age, but I just read about that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, and it seems that that is exactly what happened to him.
Well, Kile's father died young of a heart attack, so it was probably genetic in his case. Unless the Lizard King's father died early of one too, I'd go with the drug use theory.
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  #40  
Old 06-23-2002, 08:17 PM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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Peter Tosh was murdered.
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  #41  
Old 06-23-2002, 08:30 PM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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Bobby Fuller I Fought the Law, was ruled to have commited suicide by "asphyxiation due to inhalation of gasoline", despite the fact that he would have had to drive himself to where his body was found after killing himself.
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  #42  
Old 06-23-2002, 08:49 PM
Ave Minerva Ave Minerva is offline
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I had no idea that Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane were dead...jeez. I don't believe that Johnny Thunders of the NY Dolls was mentioned. He died in a New Orleans hotel room of a heroin OD. People were mostly surprised that he lived to the ripe old age of 38. Jerry Nolan, also of the Dolls, died of a drug OD. The Dolls original drummer, I think his name was Billy Mercer, died during their 1st tour of the UK. IIRC he choked on vomit while passed out in a bathtub in London. There was some substance abuse involved but I don't remember whether it was drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two.
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  #43  
Old 06-23-2002, 09:05 PM
pepperlandgirl pepperlandgirl is offline
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Eddie Cochran died in a car accident in Britian. He was on his way to a concert with Gene Vincent (who was seriously injured.)
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  #44  
Old 06-23-2002, 09:09 PM
widdershins widdershins is offline
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Doug Sahm (The Sir Douglas Quintet) - heart disease
Skip Spence - lung cancer
Johnny "Guitar" Watson - heart attack on stage

although drug use or smoking could have been contributing factors in any of these over time.
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  #45  
Old 06-23-2002, 09:12 PM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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How did we all forget Eric "Stumpy Joe" Childs?
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  #46  
Old 06-23-2002, 09:32 PM
spiceprincess spiceprincess is offline
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Didn't Jeff Buckley drown or was that ruled something else? His musician father also died young but I don't recall how.
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  #47  
Old 06-23-2002, 09:55 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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A few more:

Gene Vincent died of a ruptured stomach ulcer.

Del "Runaway" Shannon shot himself, days after orally accepting Tom Petty's invitation to join the Travelling Wilburies, as Roy Orbison's replacement.

Drummer Jeff Porcaro (best known as a member of Toto, but he played for MANY major acts as a session man) died of... well, depending which source you believe, a heart attack, a cocaine overdose, or an allergic reaction to pesticides.

Bill "Rock Around the Clock" Haley died of a heart attack at age 56.

Florence Ballard of the Supremes died at the age of 32 (the Rock and Roll Encyclopedia says it was cardiac arrest). She was flat broke, and some sources say she was on welfare when she died.
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  #48  
Old 06-23-2002, 10:17 PM
widdershins widdershins is offline
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I think Tim Buckley died of a drug overdose, but I'm not for sure. As far as I know Jeff's death was ruled an accident drowning. Two greats talents lost way too soon.
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  #49  
Old 06-24-2002, 12:24 AM
Cholo Cholo is offline
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Razzle (Hanoi Rocks) died in a car crash driven by that fat drunk Vince Neil of Motley Crue.

Didn't the original bass player from Styx die from AIDS a few years back?

Berry Oakley of the orignal Allman Brothers died in a motorcycle crash about a year after Duane crashed.

Stu Sutcliff (The Beatles) died of a brain hemmorage...rumored due to a stomping from some German hooligans.

Glenn Buxton (Alice Cooper Group) died a few years ago from poor health. Most likely alcohol related.
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  #50  
Old 06-24-2002, 06:30 AM
Bad News Baboon Bad News Baboon is offline
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technically not rock:

Patsy Cline
Stevie ray Vahn (sp?)
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