Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely Bands/Musicians

Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

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141,830 views 88 items 38,309 votes 3,856 voters 94 followers 67reranks
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 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.

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.

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  Name
Score
  1. 1
    Up 1340
    Down 290

    most listed
    Jimi Hendrix

    Day Tripper, Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix, The Best of... More
    92
    Died 1970, age 27
  2. 2
    Up 1191
    Down 355

    the people's #1 &often listed
    John Lennon

    Beatles Classic Hits, Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions, Imagine ... More
    88
    Died 1980, age 40
  3. 3
    Up 947
    Down 340

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jim Morrison

    Paris Jim, Poet Rock Musicians Of Desert, An American Prayer More
    79
    Died 1971, age 27
  4. 4
    Up 1184
    Down 344

    ranked low on reranks
    Freddie Mercury

    Solo, The Very Best, Guide Me Home More
    78
    Died 1991, age 45
  5. 5
    Up 741
    Down 181

    ranked low on reranks
    Buddy Holly

    25 All Time Greatest Hits, Rave On, Buddy Holly: Collection More
    76
    Died 1959, age 22
  6. 6
    Up 771
    Down 224
    Live From Austin, Box Set 3, The Real Deal: Greatest Hits, Volume 1 More
    74
    Died 1990, age 35
  7. 7
    Up 964
    Down 510

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Kurt Cobain

    1993-09-08: Rock Against Rape Benefit, Club Lingerie, Hollywood, Los ... More
    74
    Died 1994, age 27
  8. 8
    Up 718
    Down 257
    Rock and Roll Highway More
    72
    Died 1980, age 32
  9. 9
    Up 664
    Down 332

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Janis Joplin

    Rare Pearls, The Woodstock Experience, Janis More
    71
    Died 1970, age 27
  10. 10
    Up 783
    Down 302

    ranked low on reranks
    Bob Marley

    Sun Is Shining, Soul Shakedown Party, One Love: 20 Greatest Hits More
    70
    Died 1981, age 36
  11. 11
    Up 525
    Down 264

    often listed
    Keith Moon

    Two Sides of the Moon More
    67
    Died 1978, age 32
  12. 12
    Up 723
    Down 226
    66
    Died 1982, age 25
  13. 13
    Up 567
    Down 208

    ranked low on reranks
    Marvin Gaye

    Live!, Trouble Man, I Heard It Through the Grapevine More
    65
    Died 1984, age 44
  14. 14
    Up 594
    Down 272

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Bon Scott

    Round and Round and Round, With the Spektors and the Valentines, The Early ... More
    64
    Died 1980, age 33
  15. 15
    Up 568
    Down 285

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Elvis Presley

    I'm Yours / (It's a) Long Lonely Highway, As Recorded at Madison Square, ... More
    62
    Died 1977, age 42
  16. 16
    Up 585
    Down 251
    62
    Died 1986, age 24
  17. 17
    Up 478
    Down 174

    ranked low on reranks
    Otis Redding

    The Ultimate Otis Redding, Dreams to Remember, Otis Redding The Platinum ... More
    62
    Died 1967, age 26
  18. 18
    Up 614
    Down 242

    ranked low on reranks
    George Harrison

    Got My Mind Set on You, Gone Troppo, Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) ... More
    62
    Died 2001, age 58
  19. 19
    Up 466
    Down 228
    Duane & Greg Allman, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, Duane ... More
    61
    Died 1971, age 24
  20. 20
    Up 433
    Down 228

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Ronnie Van Zant

    60
    Died 1977, age 29
  21. 21
    Up 395
    Down 233

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Dimebag Darrell

    58
    Died 2004, age 38
  22. 22
    Up 391
    Down 143

    ranked low on reranks
    Ritchie Valens

    Best of Ritchie Valens, Come On, Let’s Go / Framed, The Best of Ritchie ... More
    58
    Died 1959, age 17
  23. 23
    Up 444
    Down 272

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Layne Staley

    57
    Died 2002, age 34
  24. 24
    Up 479
    Down 230

    ranked low on reranks
    Frank Zappa

    Threesome No. 1, Joe’s XMasage, 1980-05-24: Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands ... More
    57
    Died 1993, age 52
  25. 25
    Up 311
    Down 161

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Sam Cooke

    The Two Sides of Sam Cooke, Mr. Soul, The Best Of More
    56
    Died 1964, age 33
  26. 26
    Up 285
    Down 79

    ranked low on reranks
    Jim Croce

    Home Recordings: Americana, The Faces I've Been, Jim Croce Live: The Final ... More
    53
    Died 1973, age 30
  27. 27
    Up 291
    Down 157
    Karen Carpenter More
    51
    Died 1983, age 32
  28. 28
    Up 312
    Down 240

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jeff Buckley

    The Rain Was Falling on That Day, Screaming Down From Heaven: Ultra Rare ... More
    49
    Died 1997, age 30
  29. 29
    Up 321
    Down 225

    often listed
    Joey Ramone

    Don't Worry About Me, What a Wonderful World, Christmas Spirit... in My ... More
    48
    Died 2001, age 49
  30. 30
    Up 178
    Down 105

    ranked high on reranks
    Brian Jones

    The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at ... More
    48
    Died 1969, age 27
  31. 31
    Up 165
    Down 83

    ranked high on reranks
    The Big Bopper

    Chantilly Lace, Chantilly Lace Starring the Big Bopper, Purple People ... More
    48
    Died 1959, age 28
  32. 32
    Up 300
    Down 178

    ranked low on reranks
    Muddy Waters

    Rollin' and Tumblin', Part 1 & 2, Trainfare Blues, Muddy Waters at ... More
    48
    Died 1983, age 70
  33. 33
    Up 139
    Down 81

    often listed
    Robert Johnson

    From Four Till Late, The Last of the Great Blues Singers, The Blues ... More
    46
    Died 1938, age 27
  34. 34
    Up 206
    Down 94

    niche appeal
    John Denver

    Take Me Home, Country Road, Higher Ground, Greatest Country Songs More
    46
    Died 1997, age 53
  35. 35
    Up 229
    Down 186
    Man in the Mirror, Icon, You Are Not Alone More
    45
    added by: R20X
    Died 2009, age 50
  36. 36
    Up 160
    Down 79

    ranked low on reranks &niche appeal
    Cass Elliot

    Beautiful Thing soundtrack, Bubblegum, Lemonade, And... Something for ... More
    44
    added by: marl
    Died 1974, age 32
  37. 37
    Up 46
    Down 21

    ranked high on reranks
    Luther Vandross

    Take You Out, Super Hits, Artist Collection: Luther Vandross More
    44
    added by: JamesJohnson1
    Died 2005, age 54
  38. 38
    Up 259
    Down 241

    ranked low on reranks
    Jerry Garcia

    Reflections, Hooteroll?, Been All Around This World More
    43
    Died 1995, age 53
  39. 39
    Up 188
    Down 198
    Music from Van-Pires, Thunderfingers: The Best of John Entwistle, Rigor ... More
    43
    Died 2002, age 57
  40. 40
    Up 55
    Down 126

    ranked high on reranks &controversial
    Jani Lane

    Back Down to One More
    42
    added by: DaveKostka
    Died 2011, age 47
  41. 41
    Up 316
    Down 439

    controversial
    Amy Winehouse

    Sessions, Pumps, Back to Black More
    42
    Died 2011, age 27
  42. 42
    Up 136
    Down 233

    ranked high on reranks
    Elliott Smith

    2000-03-17: South by Southwest Music Festival, Austin, Texas, USA, Elliott ... More
    42
    Died 2003, age 34
  43. 43
    Up 154
    Down 216

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Ian Curtis

    42
    Died 1980, age 23
  44. 44
    Up 160
    Down 166

    ranked low on reranks &niche appeal
    Marc Bolan

    Dance in the Midnight, The Beginning of Doves, The Best of & The Rest ... More
    41
    Died 1977, age 29
  45. 45
    Up 98
    Down 54

    ranked low on reranks &niche appeal
    Andy Gibb

    After Dark Limited, Andy Gibb, Shadow Dancing More
    41
    added by: MadameLil
    Died 1988, age 30
  46. 46
    Up 112
    Down 169

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Gram Parsons

    Love Hurts, The New Soft Shoe / She, Sleepless Nights More
    41
    Died 1973, age 26
  47. 47
    Up 173
    Down 158

    ranked low on reranks
    Joe Strummer

    House of Blues, Earthquake Weather, Island Hopping More
    41
    Died 2002, age 50
  48. 48
    Up 173
    Down 236

    controversial
    Sid Vicious

    Live at the Electric Ballroom, Sid Sings, Sid Vicious & Friends More
    41
    Died 1979, age 21
  49. 49
    Up 123
    Down 110

    ranked low on reranks &niche appeal
    Phil Lynott

    Solo in Soho, Yellow Pearl, The Man And His Music Update More
    40
    Died 1986, age 36
  50. 50
    Up 48
    Down 111

    ranked high on reranks
    Andrew Wood

    39
    added by: HNTM
    Died 1990, age 24
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