Music
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The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 30

Updated June 14, 2019 9.9k votes 2.4k voters 290.9k views29 items

List RulesRock 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.

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  • 1
    Jimi Hendrix
    753
    139

    Jimi Hendrix

    Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock, Psychedelia, Heavy metal

    Died at 27 (1942-1970)

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  • 2
    Jim Morrison
    646
    172

    Jim Morrison

    The Doors, Strange Days

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Rock music, Acid rock, Rock and roll, Psychedelic rock

    Died at 27 (1943-1971)
  • 3
    Kurt Cobain
    706
    210

    Kurt Cobain

    Bleach, Nevermind

    Genres (Music)Grunge, Alternative rock, Punk rock

    Died at 27 (1967-1994)

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  • 4
    Janis Joplin
    510
    157

    Janis Joplin

    Big Brother and the Holding Company, Cheap Thrills

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music, Acid rock, Soul music

    Died at 27 (1943-1970)

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  • 5
    Ronnie Van Zant
    376
    138

    Ronnie Van Zant

    (Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), Second Helping

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Southern rock

    Died at 29 (1948-1977)
  • 6
    Buddy Holly
    413
    133

    Buddy Holly

    The "Chirping" Crickets, Buddy Holly

    Genres (Music)Lubbock sound, Rock music, Rockabilly, Pop rock, Rock and roll

    Died at 22 (1936-1959)

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  • 7
    Randy Rhoads
    287
    161

    Randy Rhoads

    Quiet Riot, Quiet Riot II

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Heavy metal, Neo-classical metal, Hard rock

    Died at 25 (1956-1982)
  • 8
    Ritchie Valens
    343
    141

    Ritchie Valens

    Ritchie Valens, Ritchie

    Genres (Music)Chicano rock, Rock music, Rock and roll

    Died at 17 (1941-1959)
  • 9
    Duane Allman
    243
    137

    Duane Allman

    Duane & Greg Allman, Eat a Peach

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Rock music, Jazz fusion, Jazz, Soul music

    Died at 24 (1946-1971)

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  • 10
    Cliff Burton
    212
    144

    Cliff Burton

    Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning

    Genres (Music)Thrash metal, Progressive metal, Power metal, Heavy metal, Punk rock

    Died at 24 (1962-1986)
  • 11
    Brian Jones
    193
    144

    Brian Jones

    The Rolling Stones, 12 X 5

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music, World music, Rhythm and blues

    Died at 27 (1942-1969)
  • 12
    James Honeyman-Scott
    164
    106

    James Honeyman-Scott

    Pretenders, Pretenders II

    Genres (Music)Rock music

    Died at 25 (1956-1982)

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  • 13
    Eddie Cochran
    138
    138

    Eddie Cochran

    Singin' to My Baby, Never to Be Forgotten

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Rockabilly, Rock and roll

    Died at 21 (1938-1960)
  • 14
    Sid Vicious
    201
    188

    Sid Vicious

    Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Punk rock

    Died at 21 (1957-1979)

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  • 15
    The Big Bopper
    165
    145

    The Big Bopper

    Singin' and Swingin'

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Rockabilly, Rock and roll, Country

    Died at 28 (1930-1959)

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  • 16
    Frankie Lymon
    106
    57

    Frankie Lymon

    Goody Goody / Creation of Love, Goody Goody

    Genres (Music)Doo-wop, Pop music, Rock music, Swing music, Rhythm and blues

    Died at 25 (1942-1968)

  • 17
    Mia Zapata
    116
    98

    Mia Zapata

    Frenching the Bully, Enter: The Conquering Chicken

    Genres (Music)Punk blues, Punk rock, Blues, Hardcore punk

    Died at 27 (1965-1993)
  • 18
    Shannon Hoon
    128
    151

    Shannon Hoon

    Blind Melon, Soup

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Folk music, Grunge, Folk rock, Neo-psychedelia

    Died at 28 (1967-1995)

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  • 19
    Tim Buckley
    23
    15

    Tim Buckley

    Goodbye and Hello, Sefronia

    Genres (Music)Traditional music, Folk music, Experimental rock, Jazz fusion, Soul music

  • 20
    Ian Curtis

    Died at 23 (1956-1980)

  • 21
    Marc Bolan
    119
    142

    Marc Bolan

    The Beginning of Doves, You Scare Me to Death

    Genres (Music)Psychedelic folk, Protopunk, Pop rock, Glam rock, Psychedelic rock

    Died at 29 (1947-1977)
  • 22
    Jan Paul Beahm
    Died at 22 (1958-1980)
  • 23
    Bradley Nowell
    114
    138

    Bradley Nowell

    40oz. to Freedom, Robbin' the Hood

    Genres (Music)Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Ska punk, Ska, Rock music

    Died at 28 (1968-1996)
  • 24
    Peter Ham
    45
    103

    Peter Ham

    7 Park Avenue, Golders Green

    Genres (Music)Pop music, Rock music

    Died at 27 (1947-1975)

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  • 25
    Hillel Slovak
    90
    116

    Hillel Slovak

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Freaky Styley

    Genres (Music)Funk metal, Alternative rock, Punk rock, Punk funk, Funk rock

    Died at 26 (1962-1988)

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