bands/musicians The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40  

Originally by
22.6k votes 1.8k voters 63.3k views 138 items Embed

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
632 179
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Horse in a Bookcase added Jimi Hendrix First Rays of the New Rising Sun, Band of Gypsys, Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection - Died at 27 (1942-1970)

Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Best Wineries in France

2
483 181
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
looksharp added Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony Edition, Classical Anthology, Eternal Classics - Died at 35 (1756-1791)

3
565 243
Bob Marley is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Bob Marley The Wailing Wailers, Soul Rebels, Soul Revolution - Died at 36 (1945-1981)

4
481 195
Jim Morrison is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Jim Morrison Paris Jim, Dionysus - Died at 27 (1943-1971)

5
530 220
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
382 206
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
346 158
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
333 174
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
348 164
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
151 95
Keith Moon is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
steveresin added Keith Moon Two Sides of the Moon

11
172 80
John Bonham is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
KcXfiles added John Bonham Rock and Roll Highway - 1948-1980. 32 years old. Led Zeppelin drummer.

12
240 163
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
273 201
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
236 154
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
274 159
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)

Musicians Who Went To Rehab Catchiest Viral Internet Songs of All Time

16
199 121
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
334 250
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Amy Winehouse Frank, Back to Black - Died at 27 (1983-2011)

18
124 49
Hank Williams is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Hank Williams Cold, Cold Heart, Beyond the Sunset - Died at 29 (1923-1953)

19
227 136
Frédéric Chopin is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
looksharp added Frédéric Chopin Complete Edition, Classical Anthology, Chopin: Complete Works - Died at 39 (1849-1810)

20
197 137
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
128 62
Bon Scott is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Bon Scott The Early Years 1967-1972, With the Spektors and the Valentines, Round and Round: The Forgotten Years - Died at 33 (1946-1980)

22
192 117
Ronnie Van Zant is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Ronnie Van Zant Died at 29 (1948-1977)

23
182 111
Duane Allman is listed (or ranked) 23 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)

24
181 139
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
122 102
Franz Schubert is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
mwahahahaha added Franz Schubert Classical Anthology, Eternal Classics, Symphonien 8 "Unfinished" / 9 "The Great" - Died at 31 (1797-1828)

26
329 234
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
113 73
Dimebag Darrell is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Dimebag Darrell Died at 38 (1966-2004)

28
240 176
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
149 118
Layne Staley is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
sebbzor added Layne Staley Died at 34 (1967-2002)

The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 30 13 Worst Things About Being A Super Sensitive Person

30
90 66
Cliff Burton is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Cliff Burton Died at 24 (1962-1986)

31
112 109
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
68 56
Dennis Wilson is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Dennis Wilson Pacific Ocean Blue, Pacific Ocean Blue (Legacy Edition) (disc 1), Dreamer - Died at 39 (1944-1983)

33
58 66
Phil Lynott is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Phil Lynott The Philip Lynott Album, Solo in Soho, Yellow Pearl a Collection - Died at 36 (1949-1986)

34
171 115
Ritchie Valens is listed (or ranked) 34 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)

35
138 106
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 35 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)

36
137 138
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
208 167
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 37 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)

38
64 53
Bobby Darin is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added 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)

39
71 68
Andy Gibb is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Andy Gibb Flowing Rivers, After Dark, Shadow Dancing - Died at 30 (1958-1988)

40
79 63
Jeff Buckley is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Jeff Buckley Grace, Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk, Songs to No One 1991-1992 - Died at 30 (1966-1997)

41
228 207
The Notorious B.I.G. is listed (or ranked) 41 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)

42
92 123
Gram Parsons is listed (or ranked) 42 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)

43
54 68
Marc Bolan is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Marc Bolan 20th Century Boy, The Beginning of Doves, Christmas Box - Died at 29 (1947-1977)

21 Musicians Who Are (Supposedly) in the Illuminati The Best Stolichnaya Vodka Flavors

44
89 106
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
looksharp added Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Classical Anthology, The Complete Symphonies, Great Violin Concertos - Died at 38 (1809-1847)

45
102 125
Harry Chapin is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
Harry Chapin Heads & Tales, Living Room Suite, Sequel - Died at 38 (1942-1981)

46
160 156
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
92 90
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
44 64
Shannon Hoon is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added Shannon Hoon Died at 28 (1967-1995)

49
55 47
Minnie Riperton is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
TroyLowe added 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
59 60
Ol' Dirty Bastard is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40
ryanjjjj8 added 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)