music The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40  

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List Rules Rock musicians and singers who died before they turned forty years old

On this list you can find all of the hottest, most talented rock stars - from any decade or genre - who didn’t make it to their 40th birthdays. Some died younger than others, and some were more famous than the rest, but all of them were taken far too soon. Most, though, left legacies, even if incomplete, that will live on forever.

Although many people think of drug overdoses when considering rock stars who died young, there is one other cause of death that has taken many rock stars - transportation accidents. After all, rock stars are on the road constantly when touring. The unlucky ones simply don’t beat the odds of being in a crash. To make matters worse, sometimes these accidents cause the death of multiple rock stars.

Perhaps the most famous example of several rock stars dying in an accident is “The Day the Music Died,” February 3, 1959. On this date, a plane crash tragically claimed the lives of The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens, three highly influential early rock musicians who were all under the age of 40. Their influence reached to everyone from Elvis Costello to the Rolling Stones. Who can say how much they may have contributed to music had they lived?

Fortunately, the music doesn’t stop when great musicians pass away, even when they do so far too soon. The greatest rock stars who died early left behind their albums and other recordings so that they may live on in the memories of music lovers and fans. Dying too soon may be a hazard of the rock and roll lifestyle, but being forgotten doesn’t have to be, and all the greats are right here, on this list of the greatest rock stars who died before 40.

list ordered by

1
515 147
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland - Died at 27 (1942-1970)

Rock Stars Who Have Aged Surprisingly Well The Druggiest Rock Stars of All Time

2
518 145
Jim Morrison is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Jim Morrison The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting for the Sun - Died at 27 (1943-1971)

3
499 240
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Kurt Cobain Bleach, Nevermind, In Utero - Died at 27 (1967-1994)

4
487 150
Janis Joplin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Janis Joplin Big Brother and the Holding Company, Cheap Thrills, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! - Died at 27 (1943-1970)

5
350 135
John Bonham is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
John Bonham Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III - Died at 32 (1948-1980)

6
370 129
Buddy Holly is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Buddy Holly The "Chirping" Crickets, Buddy Holly, That'll Be the Day - Died at 22 (1936-1959)

7
334 122
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
novidian added Stevie Ray Vaughan Couldn't Stand the Weather, In Step, Texas Flood

8
280 122
Keith Moon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Keith Moon Two Sides of the Moon, My Generation, Quadrophenia - Died at 32 (1946-1978)

9
269 123
Bon Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Bon Scott High Voltage, T.N.T., Let There Be Rock - Died at 33 (1946-1980)

10
154 122
Brian Jones is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
ReiFordham added Brian Jones Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka

11
180 91
Ronnie Van Zant is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
DaveWeaver added Ronnie Van Zant

12
234 117
Randy Rhoads is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Randy Rhoads Quiet Riot, Quiet Riot II, The Randy Rhoads Years - Died at 25 (1956-1982)

13
202 131
Layne Staley is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Layne Staley Facelift, Dirt, Alice in Chains - Died at 34 (1967-2002)

14
226 122
Ritchie Valens is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Ritchie Valens Ritchie Valens, Ritchie - Died at 17 (1941-1959)

15
182 90
Duane Allman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
stephenj53 added Duane Allman Duane Allman: An Anthology, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, Ton-Ton Macoute!

Rock Stars and Bands that Died in Plane Crashes 16 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

16
207 83
Jim Croce is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
MichaelAinsworth added Jim Croce Simply the Best: Time in a Bottle: His Greatest Hits, Jim Croce Smash Hits, Singer Songwriter

17
137 41
Bob Marley is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Bob Marley Sun Is Shining, One Love, Rainbow Country - Bob Marley and The Wailers. Cancer. Died at 36.  

18
180 122
Dimebag Darrell is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Dimebag Darrell Power Metal, New Found Power, Cowboys from Hell - Died at 38 (1966-2004)

19
170 129
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
BrianTomasio added Amy Winehouse Back to Black, Frank, Lioness: Hidden Treasures - Died at age 27 Born 14 September 1983Southgate, London, EnglandDied 23 July 2011 (aged 27)Camden, London, England

20
147 112
Dennis Wilson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Dennis Wilson Pacific Ocean Blue - Died at 39 (1944-1983)

21
118 149
Sid Vicious is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
JoyceHedrick added Sid Vicious The Vicious White Kids feat. Sid Vicious, Live at the Electric Ballroom, Too Fast to Live...

22
77 45
Cliff Burton is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
tjh611 added Cliff Burton

23
145 119
The Big Bopper is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
The Big Bopper Singin' and Swingin' - Died at 28 (1930-1959)

24
156 139
Andy Gibb is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Andy Gibb Flowing Rivers, Shadow Dancing, After Dark - Died at 30 (1958-1988)

25
110 66
John Belushi is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
ChadArndt added John Belushi  The Blues Brothers

26
66 26
Cass Elliot is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
MichaelEvonValich added Cass Elliot Bubblegum, Lemonade, and... Something for Mama

27
132 92
Marc Bolan is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Marc Bolan The Beginning of Doves, You Scare Me to Death, Dance in the Midnight - Died at 29 (1947-1977)

28
132 100
Michael Hutchence is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Michael Hutchence Michael Hutchence, Elegantly Wasted, X - Died at 37 (1960-1997)

29
129 99
Jeff Buckley is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Jeff Buckley Grace - Died at 30 (1966-1997)

Rock Stars Who Died at Age 30 The Absolute Worst Things About the Holiday Season

30
63 83
Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
AbbyCullen added Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan Died at 28 (1981-2009)

31
50 105
Peter Ham is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Peter Ham 7 Park Avenue, Golders Green, The Keyhole Street Demos - Died at 27 (1947-1975)

32
39 73
Chuck Schuldiner is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
linuxgogley added Chuck Schuldiner Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy, Spiritual Healing - Died at 34 (1967-2001)

33
84 103
Shannon Hoon is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Shannon Hoon Blind Melon, Soup - Died at 28 (1967-1995)

34
37 80
Johnny Thunders is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
TommyLondo29 added Johnny Thunders So Alone, In Cold Blood, Diary of a Lover - Died at 38 (1952-1991)

35
69 92
Terry Kath is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Terry Kath The Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago, Chicago XI - Died at 31 (1946-1978)

36
73 98
Steve Clark is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Steve Clark On Through the Night, High 'n' Dry, Pyromania - Died at 30 (1960-1991)

37
75 102
Bradley Nowell is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Bradley Nowell 40oz. to Freedom, Robbin' the Hood, Sublime - Died at 28 (1968-1996)

38
68 96
Elliott Smith is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Elliott Smith Roman Candle, Elliott Smith, Either/Or - Died at 34 (1969-2003)

39
31 43
Nick Drake is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
emiloltean added Nick Drake Pink Moon, Bryter Layter, Five Leaves Left

40
59 99
Allen Collins is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Allen Collins Street Survivors, Gimme Back My Bullets, Nuthin' Fancy - Died at 37 (1952-1990)

41
6 38
Sharon den Adel is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
MichaelEvonValich added Sharon den Adel In & Out of Love

42
48 91
Pete Farndon is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Pete Farndon Pretenders, Pretenders II - Died at 30 (1952-1983)

43
3 3
Hillel Slovak is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Alessia.Masi added Hillel Slovak

44
4 31
Jan Paul Beahm is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
TommyLondo29 added Jan Paul Beahm

45
18 66
Billy MacKenzie is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Billy MacKenzie Outernational, Colours Will Come, Auchtermatic - Died at 39 (1957-1997)

46
18 67
Doug Hopkins is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Doug Hopkins Dusted, New Miserable Experience - Died at 32 (1961-1993)

47
9 44
Chris Bell is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
LennyBruce added Chris Bell I Am the Cosmos, I Am the Cosmos / You and Your Sister

48
15 64
Jason Sears is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Jason Sears Rock 'n Roll Nightmare, Keep Laughing - Died at 36 (1968-2006)

49
15 65
Ty Longley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Ty Longley Died at 31 (1971-2003)