music Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely  

Ranker Community
Originally by
124.3k votes 11.7k voters 374.8k views 329 items Embed

List Rules 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.
list ordered by

1
3,534 967
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Jimi Hendrix Died 1970, age 27 James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most ...more

Rock Stars and Bands that Died in Plane Crashes 13 Horror Movies and the 'True Stories' They're Based On

2
3,239 1,135
John Lennon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
John Lennon Died 1980, age 40 John Winston Ono Lennon MBE was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the band the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of ...more

3
3,694 894
Freddie Mercury is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Freddie Mercury Died 1991, age 45 Freddie Mercury was a British singer, songwriter and producer, best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the rock band Queen. As a performer, he was known for his flamboyant stage persona ...more

4
2,697 963
Jim Morrison is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Jim Morrison Died 1971, age 27 James Douglas "Jim" Morrison was an American singer, poet and songwriter best remembered as the lead vocalist of the Doors. Due to his songwriting, baritone voice, wild personality and ...more

5
2,973 1,254
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Kurt Cobain Died 1994, age 27 Kurt Donald Cobain was an American musician who was best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter of the grunge band Nirvana. Cobain formed Nirvana with Krist Novoselic in ...more

6
2,119 631
Ranker Video
Buddy Holly Died 1959, age 22 Charles Hardin Holley, known as Buddy Holly, was an American musician and singer-songwriter, often considered one of the main figures of the rock and roll genre in the mid-1950s. Born in ...more

7
1,863 818
Ranker Video
Janis Joplin Died 1970, age 27 Janis Lyn Joplin was an American singer-songwriter who first rose to fame in the late 1960s as the lead singer of the psychedelic-acid rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, and later as ...more

8
1,974 687
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Stevie Ray Vaughan Died 1990, age 35 Stephen Ray Vaughan, known as Stevie Ray Vaughan, was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. In spite of a short-lived mainstream career spanning seven years, he is ...more

9
1,776 757
John Bonham is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
John Bonham Died 1980, age 32 John Henry Bonham was an English musician and songwriter, best known as the drummer of Led Zeppelin. Bonham was esteemed for his speed, power, fast bass-drumming, distinctive sound, and ...more

10
2,088 804
Bob Marley is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Bob Marley Died 1981, age 36 Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley OM was a Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim. Starting out in 1963 with the group the ...more

11
1,349 702
Keith Moon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Keith Moon Died 1978, age 32 Keith John Moon was an English drummer who played with the English rock band the Who. He was noted for his unique style and his eccentric, often self-destructive behaviour. In 2011, Moon was ...more

12
1,510 612
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Marvin Gaye Died 1984, age 44 Marvin Gaye was an American singer, songwriter and musician. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records, first as an in house session player in the 1960s and later as a solo artist with a ...more

13
1,667 783
Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Elvis Presley Died 1977, age 42 Elvis Aaron Presley was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as "the King of Rock and ...more

14
1,218 583
Duane Allman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Duane Allman Died 1971, age 24 Howard Duane Allman was an American guitarist, session musician, co-founder and leader of the The Allman Brothers Band until his death in a motorcycle accident in 1971 at the age of 24. The ...more

15
1,294 534
Otis Redding is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Otis Redding Died 1967, age 26 Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger and talent scout. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a ...more

The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

16
1,578 616
Randy Rhoads is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Randy Rhoads Died 1982, age 25 Randall William "Randy" Rhoads was an American heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. He died in a plane accident while on tour with Osbourne in Florida in ...more

17
1,408 650
Bon Scott is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Bon Scott Died 1980, age 33 Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott was a Scottish-born Australian rock musician, best known for being the lead singer and lyricist of Australian hard rock band AC/DC from 1974 until his death ...more

18
1,196 544
Ronnie Van Zant is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Ronnie Van Zant Died 1977, age 29 Ronald Wayne "Ronnie" Van Zant was an American lead vocalist, primary lyricist, and a founding member of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was the older brother of current lead ...more

19
1,521 688
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
George Harrison Died 2001, age 58 George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. ...more

20
1,173 648
Cliff Burton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Cliff Burton Died 1986, age 24 Clifford Lee Burton was an American musician, best known as the bass guitarist for the American thrash metal band Metallica. Burton joined Metallica in 1982 and performed on the band's first ...more

21
1,082 448
Ritchie Valens is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Ritchie Valens Died 1959, age 17 Richard Steven Valenzuela, known professionally as Ritchie Valens, was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. A rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, ...more

22
1,046 626
Frank Zappa is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Frank Zappa Died 1993, age 52 Frank Vincent Zappa was an American musician, bandleader, songwriter, composer, recording engineer, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed ...more

23
1,012 663
Ranker Video
Layne Staley Died 2002, age 34 Layne Thomas Staley was an American musician who served as the lead singer and co-songwriter of the rock band Alice in Chains, which he founded with guitarist Jerry Cantrell in Seattle, ...more

24
918 382
Jim Croce is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Jim Croce Died 1973, age 30 James Joseph "Jim" Croce was an American singer-songwriter. Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and 11 singles. His singles "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and ...more

25
835 502
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Sam Cooke Died 1964, age 33 Samuel "Sam" Cooke was an American recording artist and singer-songwriter, generally considered among the greatest of all time. Influential as both a singer and composer, he is ...more

26
950 691
Ranker Video
Dimebag Darrell Died 2004, age 38 Darrell Lance Abbott, also known as Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell, was an American guitarist and songwriter best known as a founding member of two bands, Pantera and Damageplan, alongside ...more

27
869 485
Karen Carpenter is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Karen Carpenter Died 1983, age 32 Karen Anne Carpenter was an American singer and drummer. She and her brother, Richard, formed the 1970s duo Carpenters. Although her skills as a drummer earned admiration from drumming ...more

28
668 191
David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Alistair Fullarton added David Bowie David Bowie is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, and actor. He is also a painter and collector of fine art. Bowie has been a major figure in the ...more

29
750 609
Jeff Buckley is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Jeff Buckley Died 1997, age 30 Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Buckley, raised as Scott "Scottie" Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. After a decade as a session guitarist in Los Angeles, ...more

The Best Major Lazer Songs and Remixes The 20 Most Epic Wedding FAILs of All Time

30
624 436
Brian Jones is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Brian Jones Died 1969, age 27 Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones was the founder and original bandleader of the Rolling Stones. Jones was a multi-instrumentalist, with his main instruments being the guitar, harmonica and keyboards. ...more

31
558 384
Robert Johnson is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Robert Johnson Died 1938, age 27 Robert Leroy Johnson was an American singer-songwriter and musician. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has ...more

32
1,044 965
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Amy Winehouse Died 2011, age 27 Amy Jade Winehouse was an English singer and songwriter known for her deep vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres, including soul, rhythm and blues, jazz and reggae. Winehouse's 2003 ...more

33
1,011 785
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
R20X added Michael Jackson Died 2009, age 50 Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor. Called the King of Pop, his contributions to music and dance, along with his publicized personal ...more

34
476 158
Prince is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Mark Lanzarotta added Prince Prince Roger Nelson, known by his mononym Prince, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor. A major figure in popular music for over three decades, Prince is renowned ...more

35
496 368
The Big Bopper is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
The Big Bopper Died 1959, age 28 Jiles Perry "J. P." Richardson, Jr., commonly known as The Big Bopper, was an American musician, songwriter and disc jockey, whose big rockabilly look, style, voice, and exuberant ...more

36
669 591
Joey Ramone is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Joey Ramone Died 2001, age 49 Jeffrey Ross Hyman, best known by his stage name Joey Ramone, was an American musician and singer-songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist of the punk rock band the Ramones. Joey Ramone's ...more

37
645 515
Muddy Waters is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Muddy Waters Died 1983, age 70 McKinley Morganfield, known by his stage name Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician. He is often considered the "father of modern Chicago blues". Muddy Waters grew up on Stovall ...more

38
628 404
John Denver is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
John Denver Died 1997, age 53 Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, actor, activist and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer, ...more

39
631 575
Jerry Garcia is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Jerry Garcia Died 1995, age 53 Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia was an American musician who was best known for his lead guitar work, singing and songwriting with the band the Grateful Dead, which came to prominence ...more

40
528 379
Cass Elliot is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
marl added Cass Elliot Died 1974, age 32 Cass Elliot, also known as Mama Cass, was an American singer and member of The Mamas & the Papas. After the group broke up, she released five solo albums. In 1998, Elliot, John Phillips, ...more

41
369 423
Gram Parsons is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Gram Parsons Died 1973, age 26 Ingram Cecil Connor III, known professionally as Gram Parsons, was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist. Parsons is best known for his work within the country music genre; he ...more

42
458 354
Andy Gibb is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
MadameLil added Andy Gibb Died 1988, age 30 Andrew Roy "Andy" Gibb was an English singer, songwriter, musician, performer, and teen idol. He was the younger brother of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, the members of Bee Gees. Gibb ...more

43
448 430
Marc Bolan is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Marc Bolan Died 1977, age 29 Marc Bolan was an English singer-songwriter, poet and guitarist. He is best known as the frontman of glam rock group T. Rex.

The Best EDM YouTube Channels The Best Oscar-Winning Songs

44
472 499
John Entwistle is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
John Entwistle Died 2002, age 57 John Alec Entwistle was an English musician, songwriter, singer, film and music producer, who was best known as the bass guitarist for English rock band The Who. He was the only member of the ...more

45
312 81
Johnny Cash is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Alistair Fullarton added Johnny Cash John R. "Johnny" Cash was a singer-songwriter, actor, and author, widely considered one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century. Although primarily remembered as ...more

46
1,180 541
Chris Cornell is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
MichaelChoi added Chris Cornell

Died 2017, age 52

Chris Cornell is an American rock musician and singer-songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter and rhythm guitarist for Seattle rock band Soundgarden and as former lead ...more

47
276 146
Ronnie James Dio is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
GiovanniCasoni added Ronnie James Dio Ronnie James Dio was an American heavy metal vocalist and songwriter. He founded/fronted numerous groups including Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven & Hell. He is credited with ...more

48
536 598
Sid Vicious is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Sid Vicious Died 1979, age 21 Sid Vicious, born John Simon Ritchie, later named John Beverley, was an English bass guitarist, drummer and vocalist, most famous as a member of the influential punk group the Sex Pistols, and ...more

49
392 501
Ian Curtis is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Ian Curtis Died 1980, age 23 Ian Kevin Curtis was an English musician and singer-songwriter. He is best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the post-punk band Joy Division. Joy Division released their debut album, ...more

50
399 420
Joe Strummer is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely
Joe Strummer Died 2002, age 50 John Graham Mellor, known by his stage name Joe Strummer, was a British musician, singer, actor and songwriter who was the co-founder, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of the Clash, ...more