7.5k voters

The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40

Updated February 21, 2020 71.3k votes 7.5k voters 214.3k views152 items

List RulesGreat 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.


  • 1
    Jimi Hendrix

    Jimi Hendrix

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsFirst Rays of the New Rising Sun, Band of Gypsys, Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection, Live at the Fillmore East, Live at Woodstock

    Died at 27 (1942-1970)
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  • 2
    Bob Marley

    AlbumsThe Wailing Wailers, Soul Rebels, Soul Revolution, The Best of the Wailers, Catch a Fire

    Died at 36 (1945-1981)
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  • 3
    Kurt Cobain

    Kurt Cobain

    Grunge, Alternative rock

    Albums1993-09-08: Rock Against Rape Benefit, Club Lingerie, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

    Died at 27 (1967-1994)
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  • 4
    Buddy Holly

    Buddy Holly

    Lubbock sound, Rock music

    AlbumsBuddy, 20 Golden Greats, What You Been A-Missin': What You've Been A-Missin', The Buddy Holly Story, That'll Be The Day

    Died at 22 (1936-1959)
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  • 5
    Janis Joplin

    Janis Joplin

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsPearl, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Greatest Hits, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, The Essential Janis Joplin

    Died at 27 (1943-1970)
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  • 6
    Jim Morrison

    Jim Morrison

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsParis Jim, Dionysus

    Died at 27 (1943-1971)
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  • 7
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    AlbumsSymphony 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)
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  • 8
    Tupac Shakur

    Tupac Shakur

    Hip hop music, Political hip hop

    Albums2Pacalypse Now, Strictly 4 My Niggaz, Thug Life: Volume 1, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Me Against the World

    Died at 25 (1971-1996)
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  • 9
    Stevie Ray Vaughan

    Stevie Ray Vaughan

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsTexas Flood, Couldn't Stand The Weather, Soul to Soul, In Step, In Step

    Died at 35 (1954-1990)
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  • 10
    Otis Redding

    Otis Redding

    Southern soul, Soul blues

    AlbumsPain in My Heart, King & Queen, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, The Soul Album, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads

    Died at 26 (1941-1967)
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  • 11
    The Notorious B.I.G.

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop

    AlbumsReady to Die, Life After Death

    Died at 24 (1972-1997)
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  • 12
    Amy Winehouse

    Amy Winehouse

    Doo-wop, Pop music

    AlbumsFrank, Back to Black

    Died at 27 (1983-2011)
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  • 13
    Hank Williams

    Hank Williams

    Outlaw country, Western music

    AlbumsCold, Cold Heart, Beyond the Sunset, Three Hanks: Men With Broken Hearts, Hillbilly Hero

    Died at 29 (1923-1953)
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  • 14


    Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop

    AlbumsEazy-Duz-It, Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton

    Died at 31 (1963-1995)
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  • 15
    John Bonham

    John Bonham

    Blues-rock, Folk rock

    AlbumsRock and Roll Highway

    1948-1980. 32 years old. Led Zeppelin drummer.
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  • 16
    Patsy Cline

    Patsy Cline

    Rock music, Swing music

    AlbumsPatsy Cline, Patsy Cline Showcase, Sentimentally Yours

    Died at 30 (1932-1963)
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  • 17
    Mac Miller

    Mac Miller

    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop

    AlbumsWatching Movies with the Sound Off, Macadelic, In the Air, But My Mackin Aint Easy, On and On and Beyond

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  • 18
    Ronnie Van Zant

    Ronnie Van Zant

    Rock music, Southern rock
    Died at 29 (1948-1977)
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  • 19
    Bon Scott

    Bon Scott

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsThe 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)
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  • 20
    Sam Cooke

    Sam Cooke

    Pop music, Rhythm and blues

    AlbumsSongs by Sam Cooke, Twistin' the Night Away, Encore, Swing Low, Cooke's Tour

    Died at 33 (1931-1964)
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  • 21


    Mexican cumbia, Pop music

    AlbumsSelena, Ven Conmigo, Entre a Mi Mundo, Amor Prohibido, Dreaming of You

    Died at 23 (1971-1995)
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  • 22


    Rock Hip Hop Emo


    Jahseh Onfroy was a musican artist who began their c

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  • 23
    Frédéric Chopin

    Frédéric Chopin

    Romantic music, Art song

    AlbumsComplete Edition, Classical Anthology, Chopin: Complete Works, The Mazurkas, Spectacular Classics

    Died at 39 (1849-1810)
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  • 24
    Lil Peep

    Lil Peep

    Emo rap, alternative R&B
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  • 25
    Jim Croce

    Jim Croce

    Pop music, Rock music

    AlbumsFacets, Jim & Ingrid Croce, You Don't Mess Around with Jim, Life and Times, I Got a Name

    Died at 30 (1943-1973)
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