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Musicians Who Died of Alcoholism

Updated March 19, 2020 238.7k views20 items

This is a list of alcoholic musicians who drank themselves to death. Alcoholism is more than simply a lack of self control; today, it is considered an all out addictive disorder. In other words, it's not a bad habit-- it's a disease. Fortunately, alcohol abuse is a treatable disease and many addictions have been broken.

While harder drugs may take more of the spotlight, alcohol dependence is a serious syndrome as alcohol has the potential to damage every organ in the body, including the brain, which can lead to other psychiatric disorders. Many of music's most famous and beloved singers and rock stars have suffered from alcohol addiction. For these musicians with alcohol addition, death is a very real and very scary possibility.

Which famous musicians died of alcoholism? Take a look at this list and you'll see the people who bit the big one because they couldn't put down the bottle.

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  • When Richard Swift died on July 3, 2018, the cause of death was not immediately released. Shortly after his passing, his family confirmed that he had been battling alcoholism for a good portion of his life, and the disease ultimately took it.

    "Yes, Richard Swift suffered from alcohol addiction, and it's ultimately what took his life. With the support of family and friends and the assistance of MusiCares, Richard had checked himself into rehab for multiple stays over the past two years, but his body gave out before he could overcome the disease," the family wrote on Swift's official Facebook page.

    Swift was diagnosed with hepatitis and liver and kidney distress in June 2018. The musician requested he be put in hospice care when he felt his body would not be able to handle the stress.

    • Genres (Music): Indie pop, Alternative rock, Lo-fi music
    • Albums: The Atlantic Ocean, Dressed Up for the Letdown, Library Catalog Music Series Volume 7: Music for Paradise Armor, Music From the Films of R/Swift, Walt Wolfman
    • Nationality: United States of America
  • Billie Holiday is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Musicians Who Died of Alcoholism
    Photo: Carl Van Vechten / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Billie Holiday suffered from alcoholism for most of her life.  She died of pulmonary edema and heart failure caused by alcohol induced cirrhosis of the liver on July 17, 1959. She was 44 years old.

    • Genres (Music): Torch song, Ballad, Swing music, Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz
    • Albums: Lady in Satin, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport, The Best of Billie Holiday, Billie Holiday Sings, Lady Sings the Blues
    • Nationality: United States of America

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  • AC/DC singer Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning after a night of heavy drinking on February 19, 1980.  He was 33 years old.

    • Genres (Music): Blues-rock, Rock music, Heavy metal, Rock and roll, Progressive rock
    • Albums: The Early Years 1967-1972, With the Spektors and the Valentines, Round and Round: The Forgotten Years, Round and Round and Round, Seasons of Change Raven/RCA 1971-72 (disc 2)
    • Nationality: Scotland, Australia

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  • Sweet musician Brian Connolly died at age 51 after suffering renal failure on February 9, 1997. He was a severe alcoholic since the mid-1970s.

    • Genres (Music): Pop music, Rock music, Glam rock, Hard rock
    • Albums: Performs the Greatest Hits of The Sweet
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