Top Ten Famous Sounds That We Lost Too Soon.
Whether they strummed strings, smashed drums, or wrestled with a microphone—the final song for each of these renowned musicians was a fading beat. Here are some artists that battled drugs, addiction, and overdose.
Jimi was regarded for his influential instrumentals in The Jimi Hendrix Experience. This band was flourishing with three top ten hits in the UK, a number one album in the US, and a headline performance at Woodstock in 1969. This was supposed to be Jimi’s peak, but his trouble with drugs and alcohol prematurely drew the curtain on September 18, 1970, when Jimi Hendrix asphyxiated due to barbiturates. Rolling Stone and other magazines were claiming him performer and guitarist of the year right until the end.
AC/DC had a great lead singer and lyricist in Bon Scott. One of his last albums was the famed Highway to Hell. Unfortunately, after heavy drinking, Scott passed out and died in his sleep from pulmonary aspiration of vomit at the age of 33. Crushed, the band produced their next album as tribute, Back in Black. The magazine Classic Rock ranked Scott as number one in their “100 Greatest Frontmen Of All Time”.
An artist of great style and variety, Amy Winehouse, received 5 Grammy Awards for her album Back to Black in 2008. This album contained a top ten song in the US and UK, which is also Amy’s defining song: “Rehab”. Amy told us “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, no, no, no.” A few years later, she passed away from alcohol poisoning and joined the infamous 27 club.
Legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham was known for the speed and power which he flicked his wrists. He was also a power and speed drinker—consuming over 40 shots of vodka in less than 24 hours. This would be his downfall and eventual cause of death as tour manager Benji LeFevre and bandmate John Paul Jones would discover the next morning.
The lead singer of The Doors. A frontrunner of counterculture. Jim Morrison. He was an iconic poet that also suffered from alcohol dependency. At the young age of 27, Jim Morrison passed away from heroin overdose in Paris. Rolling Stone dubbed him 5th in their “Best Lead Singers of All Time”.
In 1987, an up and coming band, Nirvana, carved out a space for themselves in the Seattle grunge scene. Lead singer and guitarist, Kurt Cobain, gained a following as the voice of Generation X. However, Kurt suffered from both heroine addiction and depression. His fame was short lived as he ended his life using a shotgun in 1987; coroner’s reports revealed high dosages of heroin and traces of diazepam. Kurt had once said “drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self-esteem. They’re no good at all.”
The Who, Keith Moon, 1964. Destroying drum sets on stage, damaging hotels on tour, and somewhere in the middle playing the greatest drum fills. Keith was a reckless partier and addicted to alcohol. He soon earned the nickname of “Moon the Loon” and eventually succumbed to Heminevrin (a prescription medicine for alcohol withdrawal symptoms). After his death, Keith was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame and voted by Rolling Stone readers as the 2nd greatest drummer in history.
Hillel Slovak was the original guitarist and founding member of California-based Red Hot Chili Peppers. This Los Angeles band developed a particular sound of rock that incorporated experimentation with other genres. However, Hillel had also been experimenting with drugs since a young age, particularly heroin. He and fellow bandmate Anthony Kiedis attempted sobriety together on tour. When withdrawals crushed Hillel and he failed to play a few shows, he was temporarily kicked out. His attempts at sobriety also failed and he was found dead from heroin overdose alone in his Hollywood apartment
The band Sublime played their last show together at Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, California. The lead singer and guitarist, Bradley Nowell, had died on May 25, 1996 from a heroin overdose shortly after that show. Their Killin’ It album was released posthumously as a re-titled album, Sublime. It sold 6 million copies by March 2010.
A budding guitarist playing for The Pretenders, Jimmy Scott lived for music. He practiced daily and was said to have a great sense of music by bandmates. However, a bout of cocaine intolerance at his girlfriend’s apartment would take him early. Jimmy Scott died of heart failure. The Pretenders wrote the now Christmas song “2000 miles” for him.