Music

The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40  

Ranker Music
Originally by
16.8k votes 2.1k voters 163k views 51 items

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.

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)
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)
3
Janis Joplin is listed (or ranked) 3 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)
4
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Bleach, Nevermind, In Utero
Died at 27 (1967-1994)
5
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
novidian added Couldn't Stand the Weather, In Step, Texas Flood
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)
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)
8
Ronnie Van Zant is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
DaveWeaver added
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)
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.
 
11
Keith Moon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Two Sides of the Moon, My Generation, Quadrophenia
Died at 32 (1946-1978)
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)
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)
14
Ritchie Valens is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Ritchie Valens, Ritchie
Died at 17 (1941-1959)
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
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!
17
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 17 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
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)
19
Brian Jones is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
ReiFordham added Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka
20
Cliff Burton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
tjh611 added
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)
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
23
Michael Hutchence is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Michael Hutchence, Elegantly Wasted, X
Died at 37 (1960-1997)
24
The Big Bopper is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Singin' and Swingin'
Died at 28 (1930-1959)
25
Jeff Buckley is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Grace
Died at 30 (1966-1997)