Music

The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30 

Ranker Music
Originally by
Updated June 14, 2019 17.1k votes 2.3k voters 290.2k views 29 items

List Rules Rock stars who did not live to the age of 30.

Taken from this world too soon, this list of the greatest rock stars who died before they reached the age of 30 profiles talented artists who died young. While many of these rock stars are the most celebrated musicians in rock’s history, their fame, wealth, and talent weren’t enough to guarantee them longevity. Some died in tragic yet unpreventable accidents, while others lost their lives after struggles with drugs and alcoholism. These rock stars who passed away before reaching 30 all have one thing in common, though: They left the world too soon, leaving fans wanting more.


 Many of the artists on this list of rock stars who died young are members of the 27 Club, a nickname given to a cadre of musicians who died at the age of 27, usually in horrific circumstances, often drug-related. A quintessential 27 Club member is Janis Joplin, who died of a heroin overdose in 1970. Her music was enough to gain her lasting fame, but her lifestyle and early death cemented her legend as a musician who tragically died too young — not even reaching 30 years old.


 Of course, not all rock stars who’ve died before 30 did so because of drugs or alcohol. Who can forget the awful plane crash that took rock legends Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines, all of Lynyrd Skynyrd? According to authorities, the plane ran out of gas — and the world lost, in one fell swoop, three amazing rock performers who had so much music left to give.


 On this list you’ll find all of the rock stars the world sill mourns, the rock stars who died far too young. While no one can say how they would’ve changed music had they lived, most will agree that even their short lives on Earth were a gift. Whether your favorites are from the 1960s or 2000s, you’ll find them all here, on this list of the greatest rock stars who died before 30.

list ordered by
1
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Experimental rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland

Labels: MCA Records, Vee-Jay Records, Polydor Records, Reprise Records, Barclay Records, + more

Died at 27 (1942-1970)

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The Best Jimi Hendrix Songs of All Time #24 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alivelisted on Members of The 27 Club

2
Jim Morrison is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Acid rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting for the Sun, The Soft Parade, Morrison Hotel, + more

Labels: Elektra Records, Columbia

Died at 27 (1943-1971)

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#26 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #376 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Timelisted on Members of The 27 Club

3
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Grunge, Alternative rock & Punk rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Bleach, Nevermind, In Utero

Labels: Geffen Records, DGC Records, Sub Pop

Died at 27 (1967-1994)

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15 Crazy But True Stories About Nirvana #26 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalistslisted on Members of The 27 Club

4
Janis Joplin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Folk music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Big Brother and the Holding Company, Cheap Thrills, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, Pearl

Labels: Columbia

Died at 27 (1943-1970)

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The Tortured, Painful Life of Janis Joplin, The Baddest Woman In Rock History #61 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alivelisted on Members of The 27 Club

5
Buddy Holly is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Lubbock sound, Rock music & Rockabilly; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The "Chirping" Crickets, Buddy Holly, That'll Be the Day

Labels: Decca Records, Brunswick Records, Coral Records

Died at 22 (1936-1959)

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6
Ronnie Van Zant is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Rock music and Southern rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: (Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), Second Helping, Nuthin' Fancy, Gimmee Back My Bullets, Street Survivors

Died at 29 (1948-1977)

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#54 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #473 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #18 of 199 Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

7
Randy Rhoads is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Glam metal, Heavy metal & Neo-classical metal; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Quiet Riot, Quiet Riot II, The Randy Rhoads Years, Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of a Madman

Labels: Sony Music Entertainment, Epic Records

Died at 25 (1956-1982)

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#295 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #1 of 229 The Best Metal Guitarists and Guitar Teams

8
Ritchie Valens is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Chicano rock, Rock music & Rock and roll; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Ritchie Valens, Ritchie

Labels: Del-Fi Records

Died at 17 (1941-1959)

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#169 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #407 of 639 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

9
Duane Allman is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Jazz fusion; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Duane & Greg Allman, Eat a Peach, Idlewild South, Spirit in the Dark, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, + more

Labels: Capricorn Records, Mercury

Died at 24 (1946-1971)

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#436 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #16 of 639 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time #709 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

10
Cliff Burton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Thrash metal, Progressive metal & Power metal; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, ...And Justice For All, Garage Inc.

Labels: Megaforce Records, Elektra Records

Died at 24 (1962-1986)

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11
Brian Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Blues-rock, Pop music & Rock music; Nationality: United Kingdom

Albums: The Rolling Stones, 12 X 5, Aftermath, Between the Buttons, Beggars Banquet Their Satanic Majesties Request, + more

Labels: Decca Records, London Records, ATCO Records, Rolling Stones Records

Died at 27 (1942-1969)

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#394 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #200 of 639 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Timelisted on Members of The 27 Club

12
The Big Bopper is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Rock music, Rockabilly & Rock and roll; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Singin' and Swingin'

Labels: Mercury

Died at 28 (1930-1959)

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#416 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #1,975 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #1,829 of 2,179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

13
Sid Vicious is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Rock music and Punk rock; Nationality: United Kingdom

Albums: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, Sid Sings

Labels: EMI, Virgin Records

Died at 21 (1957-1979)

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#135 of 185 The All-Time Best Rock Bassists #495 of 1,038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time

14
Shannon Hoon is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Rock music, Folk music & Grunge; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Blind Melon, Soup

Labels: Capitol Records

Died at 28 (1967-1995)

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#759 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #121 of 199 Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

15
Eddie Cochran is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Rock music, Rockabilly & Rock and roll; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Singin' to My Baby, Never to Be Forgotten, My Way

Labels: Liberty Records

Died at 21 (1938-1960)

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16
Frankie Lymon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
MelanieScism-Martinez added Genre: Doo-wop, Pop music & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Goody Goody / Creation of Love, Goody Goody, Goody Goody

Labels: Roulette Records, Gee Records

Died at 25 (1942-1968)

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#492 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time #30 of 44 The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 30

17
Bradley Nowell is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop & Ska punk; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: 40oz. to Freedom, Robbin' the Hood, Sublime

Labels: MCA Records, Skunk Records

Died at 28 (1968-1996)

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#335 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #531 of 639 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time #73 of 204 The Druggiest Rock Stars of All Time

18
Marc Bolan is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Psychedelic folk, Protopunk & Pop rock; Nationality: United Kingdom

Albums: The Beginning of Doves, You Scare Me to Death, Dance in the Midnight, Unicorn, A Beard of Stars, + more

Labels: Blue Thumb Records, EMI, Mercury, A&M Records, Reprise Records, + more

Died at 29 (1947-1977)

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#170 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #915 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive

19
Ian Curtis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
MCZi added Genre: New Wave, Gothic rock & Punk rock; Nationality: United Kingdom

Labels: Factory Records

Died at 23 (1956-1980)

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#349 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #750 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #586 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time

20
Mia Zapata is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
PJGoris added Mia Zapata Genre: Punk blues, Punk rock & Blues; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Frenching the Bully, Enter: The Conquering Chicken, Kings and Queens, Seafish Louisville

Died at 27 (1965-1993)

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#110 of 521 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song? #72 of 153 The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40listed on Members of The 27 Club

21
Hillel Slovak is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Funk metal, Alternative rock & Punk rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Freaky Styley, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, Mother's Milk

Labels: MCA Records, EMI

Died at 26 (1962-1988)

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#113 of 204 The Druggiest Rock Stars of All Time #92 of 199 Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

22
Steve Gaines is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Southern rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: One in the Sun, Street Survivors

Labels: MCA Records

Died at 28 (1949-1977)

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23
Jan Paul Beahm is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
TommyLondo29 added Genre: Punk rock and Hardcore punk; Nationality: United States of America
Died at 22 (1958-1980)
24
Tim Buckley is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Genre: Traditional music, Folk music & Experimental rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Goodbye and Hello, Sefronia, Tim Buckley, Look at the Fool, Blue Afternoon, + more

Labels: DiscReet Records, Warner Music Group, Rhino Entertainment, Elektra Records, Straight Records

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#686 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #551 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time

25
The Rev is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30
Melissa Harr added Genre: Progressive metal, Third-wave of ska & Ska; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Unfortunate Snort, Cougar Bait, Fistfight at the Wafflehouse, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, Waking the Fallen, + more

Labels: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Hopeless Records, Good Life Recordings, Warner Bros. Records

Died at 28 (1981-2009)

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