Rock The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40  

Ranker Music
Originally by
15.5k votes 1.9k voters 158.4k views 52 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
600 168
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
591 166
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
577 266
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Bleach, Nevermind, In Utero Died at 27 (1967-1994)

4
548 179
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)

5
403 151
John Bonham is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III Died at 32 (1948-1980)

6
417 150
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
388 139
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
novidian added Couldn't Stand the Weather, In Step, Texas Flood

8
307 149
Keith Moon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Two Sides of the Moon, My Generation, Quadrophenia Died at 32 (1946-1978)

9
227 112
Ronnie Van Zant is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
DaveWeaver added

10
314 141
Bon Scott is listed (or ranked) 10 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)

11
172 146
Brian Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
ReiFordham added Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka

12
268 141
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
247 157
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
183 55
Bob Marley is listed (or ranked) 14 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.
 

15
249 146
Ritchie Valens is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Ritchie Valens, Ritchie Died at 17 (1941-1959)

16
206 112
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
228 107
Jim Croce is listed (or ranked) 17 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

18
214 144
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
213 155
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

20
109 62
Cliff Burton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
tjh611 added

21
145 177
Sid Vicious is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
JoyceHedrick added The Vicious White Kids feat. Sid Vicious, Live at the Electric Ballroom, Too Fast to Live...

22
164 134
Dennis Wilson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Pacific Ocean Blue Died at 39 (1944-1983)

23
159 138
The Big Bopper is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Singin' and Swingin' Died at 28 (1930-1959)

24
176 162
Andy Gibb is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Flowing Rivers, Shadow Dancing, After Dark Died at 30 (1958-1988)

25
133 85
John Belushi is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
ChadArndt added  The Blues Brothers

26
86 48
Cass Elliot is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
MichaelEvonValich added Bubblegum, Lemonade, and... Something for Mama

27
154 118
Jeff Buckley is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Grace Died at 30 (1966-1997)

28
154 118
Michael Hutchence is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Michael Hutchence, Elegantly Wasted, X Died at 37 (1960-1997)

29
143 113
Marc Bolan is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
The Beginning of Doves, You Scare Me to Death, Dance in the Midnight Died at 29 (1947-1977)

30
102 120
Shannon Hoon is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Blind Melon, Soup Died at 28 (1967-1995)

31
75 105
Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
AbbyCullen added Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan Died at 28 (1981-2009)

32
83 110
Terry Kath is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
The Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago, Chicago XI Died at 31 (1946-1978)

33
86 115
Steve Clark is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
On Through the Night, High 'n' Dry, Pyromania Died at 30 (1960-1991)

34
87 119
Bradley Nowell is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
40oz. to Freedom, Robbin' the Hood, Sublime Died at 28 (1968-1996)

35
55 119
Peter Ham is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
7 Park Avenue, Golders Green, The Keyhole Street Demos Died at 27 (1947-1975)

36
43 57
Nick Drake is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
emiloltean added Pink Moon, Bryter Layter, Five Leaves Left

37
77 112
Elliott Smith is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Roman Candle, Elliott Smith, Either/Or Died at 34 (1969-2003)

38
47 87
Chuck Schuldiner is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
linuxgogley added Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy, Spiritual Healing Died at 34 (1967-2001)

39
71 113
Allen Collins is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Street Survivors, Gimme Back My Bullets, Nuthin' Fancy Died at 37 (1952-1990)

40
45 95
Johnny Thunders is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
TommyLondo29 added So Alone, In Cold Blood, Diary of a Lover Died at 38 (1952-1991)

41
12 17
Hillel Slovak is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Alessia.Masi added

42
55 104
Pete Farndon is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Pretenders, Pretenders II Died at 30 (1952-1983)

43
16 57
Chris Bell is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
LennyBruce added I Am the Cosmos, I Am the Cosmos / You and Your Sister

44
7 45
Jan Paul Beahm is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
TommyLondo29 added

45
22 52
Andrew Wood is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
sebajzib88 added

46
11 3
Karen Carpenter is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
new2nu added Karen Carpenter

The Carpenters. Lead drummer. Anorexia Nervosa. Died at 33.

47
21 80
Doug Hopkins is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Dusted, New Miserable Experience Died at 32 (1961-1993)

48
20 78
Jason Sears is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Rock 'n Roll Nightmare, Keep Laughing Died at 36 (1968-2006)

49
20 79
Billy MacKenzie is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Outernational, Colours Will Come, Auchtermatic Died at 39 (1957-1997)

50
19 76
Ty Longley is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Rock Stars Who Died Before 40
Died at 31 (1971-2003)