Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

74k votes 7.6k voters 300k 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
  • 66 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 2,539
    - 584

    most listed
    United States of America Died 1970, age 27

    ;
  2. 2
    + 2,308
    - 720

    the people's #1
    England Died 1980, age 40

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,414
    - 589
    Freddie Mercury is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Freddie Mercury Zanzibar, United Kingdom Died 1991, age 45

  4. 4
    + 1,879
    - 648


    United States of America Died 1971, age 27

    ;
  5. 5
    + 1,446
    - 398
    Buddy Holly is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Buddy Holly United States of America Died 1959, age 22

  6. 6
    + 1,949
    - 875


    United States of America Died 1994, age 27

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  7. 7
    + 1,393
    - 452
    Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Stevie Ray Vaughan United States of America Died 1990, age 35

  8. 8
    + 1,465
    - 524


    Jamaica Died 1981, age 36

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  9. 9
    + 1,315
    - 478


    England Died 1980, age 32

    ;
  10. 10
    + 1,250
    - 557
    Janis Joplin is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Janis Joplin United States of America Died 1970, age 27

  11. 11
    + 1,005
    - 464


    England Died 1978, age 32

    ;
  12. 12
    + 1,075
    - 404


    United States of America Died 1984, age 44

    ;
  13. 13
    + 1,153
    - 417
    Randy Rhoads is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Randy Rhoads United States of America Died 1982, age 25

  14. 14
    + 899
    - 337


    United States of America Died 1967, age 26

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  15. 15
    + 1,154
    - 543
    Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Elvis Presley United States of America Died 1977, age 42

  16. 16
    + 846
    - 388


    United States of America Died 1971, age 24

    ;
  17. 17
    + 1,010
    - 455
    Bon Scott is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Bon Scott Scotland, Australia Died 1980, age 33

  18. 18
    + 1,115
    - 448
    George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    George Harrison England Died 2001, age 58

  19. 19
    + 818
    - 380
    Ronnie Van Zant is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Ronnie Van Zant United States of America Died 1977, age 29

  20. 20
    + 881
    - 448


    United States of America Died 1986, age 24

    ;
  21. 21
    + 727
    - 281


    United States of America Died 1959, age 17

    ;
  22. 22
    + 784
    - 404


    United States of America Died 1993, age 52

    ;
  23. 23
    + 682
    - 444
    Dimebag Darrell is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    United States of America Died 2004, age 38

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  24. 24
    + 686
    - 458
    Layne Staley is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    United States of America Died 2002, age 34

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  25. 25
    + 583
    - 213

    ranked low on reranks
    United States of America Died 1973, age 30

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  26. 26
    + 584
    - 316


    United States of America Died 1964, age 33

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  27. 27
    + 596
    - 287

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

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  28. 28
    + 415
    - 243
    Brian Jones is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Brian Jones United Kingdom, England Died 1969, age 27

  29. 29
    + 359
    - 198


    United States of America Died 1938, age 27

    ;
  30. 30
    + 545
    - 380


    United States of America Died 1997, age 30

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  31. 31
    + 499
    - 323


    United States of America Died 1983, age 70

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  32. 32
    + 517
    - 383
    Joey Ramone is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Joey Ramone United States of America Died 2001, age 49

  33. 33
    + 674
    - 679

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

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  34. 34
    + 616
    - 476

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

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  35. 35
    + 336
    - 214


    United States of America Died 1959, age 28

    ;
  36. 36
    + 351
    - 210
    Cass Elliot is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

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

  37. 37
    + 476
    - 387
    Jerry Garcia is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Jerry Garcia United States of America Died 1995, age 53

  38. 38
    + 292
    - 195
    Andy Gibb is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

    added by MadameLil
    Andy Gibb Australia, England Died 1988, age 30

  39. 39
    + 358
    - 348

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    England Died 2002, age 57

    ;
  40. 40
    + 437
    - 231

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

    ;
  41. 41
    + 335
    - 280


    United Kingdom, England Died 1977, age 29

    ;
  42. 42
    + 362
    - 413


    United Kingdom, England Died 1979, age 21

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  43. 43
    + 97
    - 21
    David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

    ranked low on reranks & added by Alistair Fullarton
    David Bowie United Kingdom, England

  44. 44
    + 284
    - 353

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

    ;
  45. 45
    + 294
    - 277


    Turkey, United Kingdom Died 2002, age 50

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  46. 46
    + 232
    - 297

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

    ;
  47. 47
    + 195
    - 148
    Jeff Healey is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Jeff Healey Canada Died 2008, age 41

  48. 48
    + 276
    - 213
    Phil Lynott is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    Phil Lynott Ireland, United Kingdom Died 1986, age 36

  49. 49
    + 194
    - 146


    Australia Died 1997, age 37

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  50. 50
    + 173
    - 123

    added by MadameLil
    United States of America Died 1983, age 39

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