Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

83k votes 8.4k voters 326k views 311 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
  • 72 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 2,740
    - 656

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

    ;
  2. 2
    + 2,509
    - 792


    United Kingdom Died 1980, age 40

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,691
    - 649


    Zanzibar, United Kingdom Died 1991, age 45

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2,043
    - 710


    United States of America Died 1971, age 27

    ;
  5. 5
    + 1,586
    - 442
    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
    + 2,134
    - 951


    United States of America Died 1994, age 27

    ;
  7. 7
    + 1,417
    - 526


    England Died 1980, age 32

    ;
  8. 8
    + 1,504
    - 496


    United States of America Died 1990, age 35

    ;
  9. 9
    + 1,356
    - 607
    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
    + 1,569
    - 571


    Jamaica Died 1981, age 36

    ;
  11. 11
    + 1,089
    - 515

    often listed
    United Kingdom Died 1978, age 32

    ;
  12. 12
    + 1,161
    - 443


    United States of America Died 1984, age 44

    ;
  13. 13
    + 977
    - 371


    United States of America Died 1967, age 26

    ;
  14. 14
    + 1,237
    - 458


    United States of America Died 1982, age 25

    ;
  15. 15
    + 923
    - 422


    United States of America Died 1971, age 24

    ;
  16. 16
    + 1,245
    - 595


    United States of America Died 1977, age 42

    ;
  17. 17
    + 1,204
    - 503


    England Died 2001, age 58

    ;
  18. 18
    + 1,088
    - 498


    Scotland, Australia Died 1980, age 33

    ;
  19. 19
    + 901
    - 408


    United States of America Died 1977, age 29

    ;
  20. 20
    + 942
    - 490


    United States of America Died 1986, age 24

    ;
  21. 21
    + 801
    - 315


    United States of America Died 1959, age 17

    ;
  22. 22
    + 836
    - 446


    United States of America Died 1993, age 52

    ;
  23. 23
    + 650
    - 239


    United States of America Died 1973, age 30

    ;
  24. 24
    + 626
    - 342


    United States of America Died 1964, age 33

    ;
  25. 25
    + 739
    - 498
    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
    + 726
    - 486
    Dimebag Darrell is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely


    United States of America Died 2004, age 38

    ;
  27. 27
    + 655
    - 317

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

    ;
  28. 28
    + 470
    - 267


    United Kingdom, England Died 1969, age 27

    ;
  29. 29
    + 397
    - 218


    United States of America Died 1938, age 27

    ;
  30. 30
    + 582
    - 412


    United States of America Died 1997, age 30

    ;
  31. 31
    + 753
    - 722

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

    ;
  32. 32
    + 547
    - 420


    United States of America Died 2001, age 49

    ;
  33. 33
    + 368
    - 236


    United States of America Died 1959, age 28

    ;
  34. 34
    + 525
    - 361


    United States of America Died 1983, age 70

    ;
  35. 35
    + 673
    - 534

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

    ;
  36. 36
    + 480
    - 258

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

    ;
  37. 37
    + 195
    - 51

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 503
    - 421


    United States of America Died 1995, age 53

    ;
  39. 39
    + 381
    - 244

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

    ;
  40. 40
    + 323
    - 222

    added by MadameLil
    England Died 1988, age 30

    ;
  41. 41
    + 380
    - 377


    England Died 2002, age 57

    ;
  42. 42
    + 360
    - 306


    United Kingdom, England Died 1977, age 29

    ;
  43. 43
    + 260
    - 316

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

    ;
  44. 44
    + 390
    - 443


    United Kingdom, England Died 1979, age 21

    ;
  45. 45
    + 304
    - 378

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

    ;
  46. 46
    + 318
    - 300


    Turkey, United Kingdom, England Died 2002, age 50

    ;
  47. 47
    + 98
    - 22

    ranked low on reranks & added by Mark Lanzarotta
    United States of America

    ;
  48. 48
    + 221
    - 169


    Canada Died 2008, age 41

    ;
  49. 49
    + 227
    - 170


    Australia Died 1997, age 37

    ;
  50. 50
    + 298
    - 236


    Ireland, United Kingdom Died 1986, age 36

    ;
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