Music

The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40  

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List Rules Rock musicians and singers who died before they turned forty years old

On this list you can find all of the hottest, most talented rock stars - from any decade or genre - who didn’t make it to their 40th birthdays. Some died younger than others, and some were more famous than the rest, but all of them were taken far too soon. Most, though, left legacies, even if incomplete, that will live on forever.

Although many people think of drug overdoses when considering rock stars who died young, there is one other cause of death that has taken many rock stars - transportation accidents. After all, rock stars are on the road constantly when touring. The unlucky ones simply don’t beat the odds of being in a crash. To make matters worse, sometimes these accidents cause the death of multiple rock stars.

Perhaps the most famous example of several rock stars dying in an accident is “The Day the Music Died,” February 3, 1959. On this date, a plane crash tragically claimed the lives of The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens, three highly influential early rock musicians who were all under the age of 40. Their influence reached to everyone from Elvis Costello to the Rolling Stones. Who can say how much they may have contributed to music had they lived?

Fortunately, the music doesn’t stop when great musicians pass away, even when they do so far too soon. The greatest rock stars who died early left behind their albums and other recordings so that they may live on in the memories of music lovers and fans. Dying too soon may be a hazard of the rock and roll lifestyle, but being forgotten doesn’t have to be, and all the greats are right here, on this list of the greatest rock stars who died before 40.

list ordered by
1
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland
Died at 27 (1942-1970)

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#9 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Jimi Hendrix Songs of All Timelisted on Famous Left Handed People

2
Jim Morrison is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting for the Sun
Died at 27 (1943-1971)

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#7 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalistsfeaturing Wild Jim Morrison Stories, From Riots To Arrestslisted on Members of The 27 Club

3
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
novidian added Couldn't Stand the Weather, In Step, Texas Flood

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#99 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalists #153 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Stevie Ray Vaughan Albums of All Time

4
Janis Joplin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Big Brother and the Holding Company, Cheap Thrills, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
Died at 27 (1943-1970)

More Janis Joplin

#56 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing Fascinating Stories From Janis Joplin's Personal Lifelisted on Members of The 27 Club

5
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
6
Buddy Holly is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
The "Chirping" Crickets, Buddy Holly, That'll Be the Day
Died at 22 (1936-1959)

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#258 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Famefeaturing The Best Buddy Holly Songslisted on People On Stamps: List Of People On US Postage

7
John Bonham is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III
Died at 32 (1948-1980)

More John Bonham

#356 of 931 People We Wish Were Still Alive #41 of 206 The Druggiest Rock Stars of All Timelisted on List of Deaths Through Alcohol

8
Ronnie Van Zant is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
9
Bon Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
High Voltage, T.N.T., Let There Be Rock
Died at 33 (1946-1980)

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#25 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalists #112 of 1,066 The Best Singers of All Timelisted on List of Deaths Through Alcohol

10
Bob Marley is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Sun Is Shining, One Love, Rainbow Country
Bob Marley and The Wailers. Cancer. Died at 36.
 

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#33 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #91 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalistsfeaturing The Best Bob Marley Songs of All Time

11
Keith Moon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
12
Randy Rhoads is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Quiet Riot, Quiet Riot II, The Randy Rhoads Years
Died at 25 (1956-1982)

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#1,834 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #670 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #1 of 231 The Best Metal Guitarists and Guitar Teams

13
Layne Staley is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Facelift, Dirt, Alice in Chains
Died at 34 (1967-2002)

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#210 of 455 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #38 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalists #317 of 1,066 The Best Singers of All Time

14
Ritchie Valens is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
15
Jim Croce is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
MichaelAinsworth added Simply the Best: Time in a Bottle: His Greatest Hits, Jim Croce Smash Hits, Singer Songwriter

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#42 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Famefeaturing The Best Jim Croce Albums of All Timelisted on Famous Christians Who Converted to Judaism

16
Duane Allman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
stephenj53 added Duane Allman: An Anthology, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, Ton-Ton Macoute!

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#16 of 655 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time #427 of 931 People We Wish Were Still Alive #593 of 1,472 The Greatest Minds of All Time

17
Brian Jones is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
ReiFordham added Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka

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#178 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #281 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalistslisted on Famous Accordionists

18
Dimebag Darrell is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Power Metal, New Found Power, Cowboys from Hell
Died at 38 (1966-2004)

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#566 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #8 of 231 The Best Metal Guitarists and Guitar Teams #43 of 655 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

19
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
BrianTomasio added Back to Black, Frank, Lioness: Hidden Treasures
Died at age 27
Born 14 September 1983Southgate, London, EnglandDied 23 July 2011 (aged 27)Camden, London, England

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#30 of 455 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearsfeaturing ‘Amy’ Is A Deeply Upsetting Documentary That Forced Us To Re-Examine Her Tragedylisted on Members of The 27 Club

20
Cliff Burton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
21
Andy Gibb is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Flowing Rivers, Shadow Dancing, After Dark
Died at 30 (1958-1988)

More Andy Gibb

#2,116 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #121 of 190 The Greatest Male Pop Singers of All Timelisted on List of Famous Bands from Australia

22
Cass Elliot is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
MichaelEvonValich added Bubblegum, Lemonade, and... Something for Mama

More Cass Elliot

#123 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalists #173 of 1,066 The Best Singers of All Time #513 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

23
Michael Hutchence is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
24
Jeff Buckley is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
25
The Big Bopper is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40