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.
Albums: First Rays of the New Rising Sun, Band of Gypsys, Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection, Live at the Fillmore East, Live at Woodstock, + more
Albums: The Wailing Wailers, Soul Rebels, Soul Revolution, The Best of the Wailers, Catch a Fire, + more
Albums: 1993-09-08: Rock Against Rape Benefit, Club Lingerie, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, + more
Albums: Paris Jim, Dionysus
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), + more
Albums: Pearl, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Greatest Hits, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, The Essential Janis Joplin, + more
Albums: Buddy, 20 Golden Greats, What You Been A-Missin': What You've Been A-Missin', The Buddy Holly Story, That'll Be The Day, + more
Albums: Pain in My Heart, King & Queen, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, The Soul Album, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, + more
Albums: Texas Flood, Couldn't Stand The Weather, Soul to Soul, In Step, In Step, + more
Albums: 2Pacalypse Now, Strictly 4 My Niggaz, Thug Life: Volume 1, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Me Against the World, + more
Albums: Frank, Back to Black
Albums: Cold, Cold Heart, Beyond the Sunset, Three Hanks: Men With Broken Hearts, Hillbilly Hero, + more
Albums: Ready to Die, Life After Death
Albums: Patsy Cline, Patsy Cline Showcase, Sentimentally Yours
Albums: Rock and Roll Highway
Albums: Songs by Sam Cooke, Twistin' the Night Away, Encore, Swing Low, Cooke's Tour, + more
Albums: Complete Edition, Classical Anthology, Chopin: Complete Works, The Mazurkas, Spectacular Classics, + more
Albums: 17, revenge, ?
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Albums: Facets, Jim & Ingrid Croce, You Don't Mess Around with Jim, Life and Times, I Got a Name
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)
Albums: Eazy-Duz-It, Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton
Albums: Selena, Ven Conmigo, Entre a Mi Mundo, Amor Prohibido, Dreaming of You
Albums: Offering, Close to You, Made in America, Voice of the Heart, Carpenters, + more
Albums: Duane Allman: An Anthology, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, Ton-Ton Macoute!, Duane & Greg Allman, Duane Allman: An Anthology, + more