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 as some of the greatest artists of all time.
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 black superstars 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 with her loss.
Many of the deceased musicians listed below died in unfortunate and horrific circumstances, while other songwriters and composers passed away more peacefully, and some from natural causes. Whatever the case, all of these artists left us too soon, and we will forever remember their influence and listen to their extraordinary music for generations to come.
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Albums: First Rays of the New Rising Sun, Band of Gypsys, Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection, Live at the Fillmore East, Live at WoodstockDied at 27 (1942-1970)
Albums: The Wailing Wailers, Soul Rebels, Soul Revolution, The Best of the Wailers, Catch a FireDied at 36 (1945-1981)
Albums: 1993-09-08: Rock Against Rape Benefit, Club Lingerie, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CADied at 27 (1967-1994)
Albums: Paris Jim, DionysusDied at 27 (1943-1971)
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Albums: Symphony Edition, Classical Anthology, Eternal Classics, Concertos for Flute, Harp and Orchestra (Orchestra: Saint Paul's Philharmonic Orchestra; Flute: Ubaldo Rosso; Harp: Ursula Mazurek; Conductor: Silvano Frontalini)Died at 35 (1756-1791)
Albums: Buddy, 20 Golden Greats, What You Been A-Missin': What You've Been A-Missin', The Buddy Holly Story, That'll Be The DayDied at 22 (1936-1959)
Albums: Pearl, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Greatest Hits, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, The Essential Janis JoplinDied at 27 (1943-1970)
Albums: 2Pacalypse Now, Strictly 4 My Niggaz, Thug Life: Volume 1, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Me Against the WorldDied at 25 (1971-1996)
Albums: Texas Flood, Couldn't Stand The Weather, Soul to Soul, In Step, In StepDied at 35 (1954-1990)
Albums: Pain in My Heart, King & Queen, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, The Soul Album, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul BalladsDied at 26 (1941-1967)
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Albums: Cold, Cold Heart, Beyond the Sunset, Three Hanks: Men With Broken Hearts, Hillbilly HeroDied at 29 (1923-1953)
Albums: Frank, Back to BlackDied at 27 (1983-2011)
Albums: Ready to Die, Life After DeathDied at 24 (1972-1997)
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Albums: Rock and Roll Highway1948-1980. 32 years old. Led Zeppelin drummer.
Albums: Patsy Cline, Patsy Cline Showcase, Sentimentally YoursDied at 30 (1932-1963)
- Died at 29 (1948-1977)
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Albums: The Early Years 1967-1972, With the Spektors and the Valentines, Round and Round: The Forgotten Years, Round and Round and Round, Seasons of Change Raven/RCA 1971-72 (disc 2)Died at 33 (1946-1980)
Albums: Songs by Sam Cooke, Twistin' the Night Away, Encore, Swing Low, Cooke's TourDied at 33 (1931-1964)
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Albums: Complete Edition, Classical Anthology, Chopin: Complete Works, The Mazurkas, Spectacular ClassicsDied at 39 (1849-1810)
Albums: Eazy-Duz-It, Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin ComptonDied at 31 (1963-1995)
Albums: Facets, Jim & Ingrid Croce, You Don't Mess Around with Jim, Life and Times, I Got a NameDied at 30 (1943-1973)
Albums: Selena, Ven Conmigo, Entre a Mi Mundo, Amor Prohibido, Dreaming of YouDied at 23 (1971-1995)
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Albums: Watching Movies with the Sound Off, Macadelic, In the Air, But My Mackin Aint Easy, On and On and Beyond
Died at 26 (1992-2018)
Albums: Duane Allman: An Anthology, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, Ton-Ton Macoute!, Duane & Greg Allman, Duane Allman: An AnthologyDied at 24 (1946-1971)
Albums: Offering, Close to You, Made in America, Voice of the Heart, CarpentersDied at 32 (1950-1983)