bands/musicians The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40  

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List Rules Great musicians who died before their 40th birthdays

Some of the best musicians in history only lived for a few short decades. This list ranks those musicians whose lives were taken before they turned 40, whether intentionally or accidentally, including everyone from Bob Marley to Mozart. They may all come from different genres and backgrounds, but the loss of each of these musicians left a major emptiness in the world of music. Singers and rock stars like Amy Winehouse, Buddy Holly, and Jimi Hendrix didn’t live to 40, but they did live long enough to secure a lasting legacy in music history.

Many people think of rock stars like Kurt Cobain (of the 27 Club) when they consider musicians who died young, but the world of rap music can be just as deadly. Who can forget the feud between Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.? While no one has ever conclusively proven who killed the two stars or even that the two deaths were linked, there is no doubt that both musicians were killed far too early. These musicians were murdered in their prime, and hip hop fans still mourn them.

Other deaths have rocked the music world as well. Can any fan of hip hop or R&B every truly recover from Aaliyah’s death in 2001? She was only 22 years old when her plane crashed in the Bahamas, killing not only her but also eight others. This gifted musician died before reaching the age of 40, and the world of R&B is not the same for her loss.

On this list you’ll find musicians who died before they turned 40. The gifted performers on this list come from all genres. Many of the musicians here died in unfortunate and horrific circumstances, while others passed away more peacefully, some from natural causes. Whatever the case, they have all earned their spots on this list of the greatest musicians who died before 40.

list ordered by

1
+ - 620 174
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Jimi Hendrix First Rays of the New Rising Sun, Band of Gypsys, Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection - Died at 27 (1942-1970)

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2
+ - 476 177
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony Edition, Classical Anthology, Eternal Classics - Died at 35 (1756-1791)

3
+ - 471 190
Jim Morrison is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Jim Morrison Paris Jim, Dionysus - Died at 27 (1943-1971)

4
+ - 548 241
Bob Marley is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Bob Marley The Wailing Wailers, Soul Rebels, Soul Revolution - Died at 36 (1945-1981)

5
+ - 518 216
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Kurt Cobain 1993-09-08: Rock Against Rape Benefit, Club Lingerie, Hollywood - Died at 27 (1967-1994)

6
+ - 372 200
Janis Joplin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Janis Joplin Pearl, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Greatest Hits - Died at 27 (1943-1970)

7
+ - 334 155
Otis Redding is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Otis Redding Pain in My Heart, King & Queen, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul - Died at 26 (1941-1967)

8
+ - 326 170
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Stevie Ray Vaughan Texas Flood, Couldn't Stand The Weather, Soul to Soul - Died at 35 (1954-1990)

9
+ - 340 160
Buddy Holly is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Buddy Holly Buddy, 20 Golden Greats, What You Been A-Missin': What You've Been A-Missin' - Died at 22 (1936-1959)

10
+ - 145 89
Keith Moon is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Keith Moon Two Sides of the Moon

11
+ - 163 76
John Bonham is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
John Bonham Rock and Roll Highway - 1948-1980. 32 years old. Led Zeppelin drummer.

12
+ - 234 159
Patsy Cline is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Patsy Cline Patsy Cline, Patsy Cline Showcase, Sentimentally Yours - Died at 30 (1932-1963)

13
+ - 269 195
Karen Carpenter is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Karen Carpenter Offering, Close to You, Made in America - Died at 32 (1950-1983)

14
+ - 229 151
Jim Croce is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Jim Croce Facets, Jim & Ingrid Croce, You Don't Mess Around with Jim - Died at 30 (1943-1973)

15
+ - 265 153
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Sam Cooke Songs by Sam Cooke, Twistin' the Night Away, Encore - Died at 33 (1931-1964)

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16
+ - 190 116
Randy Rhoads is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Randy Rhoads Died at 25 (1956-1982)

17
+ - 121 45
Hank Williams is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Hank Williams Cold, Cold Heart, Beyond the Sunset - Died at 29 (1923-1953)

18
+ - 224 131
Frédéric Chopin is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Frédéric Chopin Complete Edition, Classical Anthology, Chopin: Complete Works - Died at 39 (1849-1810)

19
+ - 322 245
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Amy Winehouse Frank, Back to Black - Died at 27 (1983-2011)

20
+ - 194 132
Robert Johnson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Robert Johnson From Four Till Late, Hellhound on My Trail, Sweet Home Chicago - Died at 27 (1911-1938)

21
+ - 180 106
Duane Allman is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Duane Allman Duane Allman: An Anthology, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, Ton-Ton Macoute! - Died at 24 (1946-1971)

22
+ - 121 57
Bon Scott is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Bon Scott The Early Years 1967-1972, With the Spektors and the Valentines, Round and Round: The Forgotten Years - Died at 33 (1946-1980)

23
+ - 187 114
Ronnie Van Zant is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Ronnie Van Zant Died at 29 (1948-1977)

24
+ - 177 134
George Gershwin is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
George Gershwin George Gerswhin plays RHAPSODY IN BLUE and his other favorite compositions - Died at 38 (1898-1937)

25
+ - 118 98
Franz Schubert is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Franz Schubert Classical Anthology, Eternal Classics, Symphonien 8 "Unfinished" / 9 "The Great" - Died at 31 (1797-1828)

26
+ - 317 232
Tupac Shakur is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Tupac Shakur 2Pacalypse Now, Strictly 4 My Niggaz, Thug Life: Volume 1 - Died at 25 (1971-1996)

27
+ - 110 70
Dimebag Darrell is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Dimebag Darrell Died at 38 (1966-2004)

28
+ - 234 171
Selena is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Selena Selena, Ven Conmigo, Entre a Mi Mundo - Died at 23 (1971-1995)

29
+ - 141 116
Layne Staley is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Layne Staley Died at 34 (1967-2002)

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30
+ - 87 62
Cliff Burton is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Cliff Burton Died at 24 (1962-1986)

31
+ - 109 105
Brian Jones is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Brian Jones Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka - Died at 27 (1942-1969)

32
+ - 64 52
Dennis Wilson is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Dennis Wilson Pacific Ocean Blue, Pacific Ocean Blue (Legacy Edition) (disc 1), Dreamer - Died at 39 (1944-1983)

33
+ - 55 62
Phil Lynott is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Phil Lynott The Philip Lynott Album, Solo in Soho, Yellow Pearl a Collection - Died at 36 (1949-1986)

34
+ - 135 102
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Charlie Parker Portrait, Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve, The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings 1944-1948 - Died at 34 (1920-1955)

35
+ - 165 112
Ritchie Valens is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Ritchie Valens The Complete Ritchie Valens, The Very Best Of Richie Valens, Greatest Hits - Died at 17 (1941-1959)

36
+ - 133 134
Cass Elliot is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Cass Elliot Dream a Little Dream, The Road Is No Place for a Lady, Cass Elliot - Died at 32 (1941-1974)

37
+ - 62 50
Bobby Darin is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Bobby Darin Beyond the Sea: The Very Best of Bobby Darin, You're the Reason I'm Living / I Wanna Be Around, Bobby Darin Sings Doctor Doolitle / Born Walden Robert Cassotto - Died at 37 (1936-1973)

38
+ - 200 164
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Aaliyah Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, One in a Million, Aaliyah - Died at 22 (1979-2001)

39
+ - 69 64
Andy Gibb is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Andy Gibb Flowing Rivers, After Dark, Shadow Dancing - Died at 30 (1958-1988)

40
+ - 90 118
Gram Parsons is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Gram Parsons GP, Grievous Angel, The Gilded Palace of Sin - Died at 26 (1946-1973)

41
+ - 53 63
Marc Bolan is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Marc Bolan 20th Century Boy, The Beginning of Doves, Christmas Box - Died at 29 (1947-1977)

42
+ - 74 59
Jeff Buckley is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Jeff Buckley Grace, Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk, Songs to No One 1991-1992 - Died at 30 (1966-1997)

43
+ - 221 203
The Notorious B.I.G. is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
The Notorious B.I.G. Ready to Die, Life After Death - Died at 24 (1972-1997)

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44
+ - 100 120
Harry Chapin is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Harry Chapin Heads & Tales, Living Room Suite, Sequel - Died at 38 (1942-1981)

45
+ - 86 102
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Classical Anthology, The Complete Symphonies, Great Violin Concertos - Died at 38 (1809-1847)

46
+ - 154 151
Lisa Lopes is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Lisa Lopes Supernova - Died at 30 (1971-2002)

47
+ - 87 88
The Big Bopper is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
The Big Bopper Chantilly Lace, Hellooo Baby! The Best of the Big Bopper, 1954-1959 - Died at 28 (1930-1959)

48
+ - 38 61
Shannon Hoon is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Shannon Hoon Died at 28 (1967-1995)

49
+ - 50 44
Minnie Riperton is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Minnie Riperton Adventures in Paradise, Come to My Garden, Her Chess Years (feat. The Gems & Rotary Connection) - "Lovin' You"  Died at 31 (1947-1979)

50
+ - 56 56
Ol' Dirty Bastard is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Ol' Dirty Bastard Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, The Trials and Tribulations of Russell Jones, Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are) - Died at 35 (1968-2004)