Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

75k votes 7.8k voters 304k views 309 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Vote and rerank based on how much great music they would have produced had they lived a longer life. People only - not bands.

Dead rock stars, ranked in order of how much potential great music was lost to this world by their untimely passing. The key criteria for this list is to guess "how much greatness they left behind" - in other words, it would be very difficult to justify, for example, Syd Barrett on this list, because although he is a dead rockstar, he died long after he had stopped making music at all. Similarly, although Elvis Presley died an untimely early death, if you were equally a fan of Kurt Cobain and Elvis Presley, you would only rank them equally if you thought Elvis's post-77 output would equal Cobain's post-94 output (although you might still keep Elvis somewhere on your list - he was still playing live and could certainly have cleaned up and made a comeback).

To keep the spirit of this list, your ranking should reflect a combination of a) musical talent (as a performer, songwriter, and recording artist) and b) how much of that talent you think the world missed, based on how early in their career the artist was takenf rom us, and what you think their output would have been had they lived a full life. Please note that this list is focused on ROCK artists, so while you aren't going to be prohibited from adding Hank Williams or Billie Holiday, most would argue that country, jazz, and even blues greats aren't rock musicians (people have been including soul and hip-hop, however). Lastly, this list is about individual dead musicians, not bands – so Ronnie Van Zandt counts but Lynyrd Skynrd does not. Ranking this list requires some thinking - while most rock stars tend to have a finite time of peak talent (particularly with songwriting and recording), certainly there are examples today of artists who have had career resurgences and done some of their finest work into their 50s and 60s. This list includes solo artists as well as the lead singers to some of the best rock bands responsible for some of the best albums of all time - and many who had illustrious careers as both. 

This is a list where we hope to see lots of people making their own ranked lists, because ranked lists can be aggregated far more accurately than just votes. See this Forever 27 list for an eye opener about how many of these untimely rock deaths happened at age 27.
Collection Photo: user uploaded image
  • 67 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • 2 See list ranked by
Z
G Options B Comments & Embed 2rerank list
  1. 1
    + 2,579
    - 596

    the people's #1 & most listed
    United States of America Died 1970, age 27

    ;
  2. 2
    + 2,344
    - 734


    England Died 1980, age 40

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,475
    - 597


    Zanzibar, United Kingdom Died 1991, age 45

    ;
  4. 4
    + 1,909
    - 655


    United States of America Died 1971, age 27

    ;
  5. 5
    + 1,474
    - 403
    Buddy Holly is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    United States of America Died 1959, age 22

    ;
  6. 6
    + 1,983
    - 884


    United States of America Died 1994, age 27

    ;
  7. 7
    + 1,410
    - 458


    United States of America Died 1990, age 35

    ;
  8. 8
    + 1,330
    - 483


    England Died 1980, age 32

    ;
  9. 9
    + 1,265
    - 562
    Janis Joplin is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    United States of America Died 1970, age 27

    ;
  10. 10
    + 1,483
    - 533


    Jamaica Died 1981, age 36

    ;
  11. 11
    + 1,021
    - 471


    England Died 1978, age 32

    ;
  12. 12
    + 1,089
    - 410


    United States of America Died 1984, age 44

    ;
  13. 13
    + 1,162
    - 424


    United States of America Died 1982, age 25

    ;
  14. 14
    + 912
    - 342


    United States of America Died 1967, age 26

    ;
  15. 15
    + 1,166
    - 551


    United States of America Died 1977, age 42

    ;
  16. 16
    + 859
    - 394


    United States of America Died 1971, age 24

    ;
  17. 17
    + 1,129
    - 458


    England Died 2001, age 58

    ;
  18. 18
    + 1,022
    - 462


    Scotland, Australia Died 1980, age 33

    ;
  19. 19
    + 835
    - 383


    United States of America Died 1977, age 29

    ;
  20. 20
    + 891
    - 454


    United States of America Died 1986, age 24

    ;
  21. 21
    + 743
    - 286


    United States of America Died 1959, age 17

    ;
  22. 22
    + 787
    - 413


    United States of America Died 1993, age 52

    ;
  23. 23
    + 595
    - 216


    United States of America Died 1973, age 30

    ;
  24. 24
    + 689
    - 450
    Dimebag Darrell is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    United States of America Died 2004, age 38

    ;
  25. 25
    + 688
    - 462
    Layne Staley is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    United States of America Died 2002, age 34

    ;
  26. 26
    + 585
    - 322


    United States of America Died 1964, age 33

    ;
  27. 27
    + 603
    - 291

    ranked low on reranks
    United States of America Died 1983, age 32

    ;
  28. 28
    + 425
    - 246


    United Kingdom, England Died 1969, age 27

    ;
  29. 29
    + 365
    - 201


    United States of America Died 1938, age 27

    ;
  30. 30
    + 552
    - 386


    United States of America Died 1997, age 30

    ;
  31. 31
    + 683
    - 685

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    England Died 2011, age 27

    ;
  32. 32
    + 630
    - 484

    added by R20X
    United States of America Died 2009, age 50

    ;
  33. 33
    + 501
    - 328


    United States of America Died 1983, age 70

    ;
  34. 34
    + 519
    - 389


    United States of America Died 2001, age 49

    ;
  35. 35
    + 342
    - 217


    United States of America Died 1959, age 28

    ;
  36. 36
    + 356
    - 213

    added by marl
    United States of America Died 1974, age 32

    ;
  37. 37
    + 443
    - 234

    ranked low on reranks
    United States of America Died 1997, age 53

    ;
  38. 38
    + 479
    - 391


    United States of America Died 1995, age 53

    ;
  39. 39
    + 296
    - 198

    added by MadameLil
    England Died 1988, age 30

    ;
  40. 40
    + 114
    - 29

    added by Alistair Fullarton
    United Kingdom, England

    ;
  41. 41
    + 359
    - 353


    England Died 2002, age 57

    ;
  42. 42
    + 338
    - 285


    United Kingdom Died 1977, age 29

    ;
  43. 43
    + 365
    - 417


    United Kingdom Died 1979, age 21

    ;
  44. 44
    + 288
    - 356

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    United Kingdom Died 1980, age 23

    ;
  45. 45
    + 198
    - 152

    ranked low on reranks
    Canada Died 2008, age 41

    ;
  46. 46
    + 234
    - 300

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    United States of America Died 1973, age 26

    ;
  47. 47
    + 295
    - 281


    Turkey, United Kingdom, England Died 2002, age 50

    ;
  48. 48
    + 200
    - 149


    Australia Died 1997, age 37

    ;
  49. 49
    + 278
    - 216


    Ireland, United Kingdom Died 1986, age 36

    ;
  50. 50
    + 204
    - 286

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    United States of America Died 1996, age 28

    ;
310 +

Something missing? Add it!

L List Options 2 Rerank List B Comments & Embed z Share Next List >