15 Most Tragic Music Deaths

Putting suicides and drug-related deaths aside as ‘too obvious’, these are the worst music-related deaths we have witnessed. Let’s hope it is enough.

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye

What Happened?

After an argument between father and son escalated into a physical fight on the morning of April 1, 1984, Alberta Gaye was trying to calm her son in his bedroom when Marvin Sr. took a revolver given to him by Marvin Jr. and shot him three times in his chest. Marvin Gaye’s brother, Frankie, who held the legendary singer during his final minutes, later wrote in his memoir that Marvin Gaye’s final, disturbing statement was, ‘I got what I wanted….I couldn’t do it myself, so I made him do it.’

Essential Track: Inner City Blues Soulful but so angry

Jaco Pastorius

Jaco Pastorious

What Happened?

Jaco Pastorious died at the hands of 25 year old bouncer Luc Havan who laid out a savage beatdown on him. Havan was charged with second degree murder but was convicted of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter and served 8 months of a 2 year sentence. It’s doubtful that he acted in self-defence believing his life was in danger simply because he is experienced in martial arts.

Essential Track: Come On, Come Over Great playing!

keith relf

Keith Relf

What Happened?

Keith Relf was playing guitar in the basement when the tragic combination of malfunctioning equipment, an exposed pipe, and electric current killed him at age 33. He was the frontman, singer and harmonica player for the infamous Yardbirds, the archetypal Rock group that  among other accomplishments – spawned the careers of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

Essential Track: ‘I’m a Man‘ Essential R&B

Cliff Burton

Cliff Burton

What Happened?

Metallica were on top of the world in 1986, having just signed their first major label deal and releasing their new album. But the band’s year ended with a crushing blow after bassist Cliff Burton died in a horrific bus accident during a tour in Scandinavia. James Hetfield recalls: ‘I saw the bus lying right on him. I saw his legs sticking out. I freaked. The bus driver, I recall, was trying to yank the blanket out from under him to use for other people. I just went, ‘Don’t fucking do that!’ I already wanted to kill the guy. I don’t know if he was drunk or if he hit some ice.’

Essential Track: Orion A masterpiece

Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads

What Happened?

Randy Rhoads died as the co-pilot of a single-engine aircraft crashed onto Ozzy’s tour bus. A day after the crash, a shaken Ozzy Osbourne gave this affidavit: ‘At 9 a.m. on Friday, March 19, 1982, I was awoken from my sleep by a loud explosion. I got out of bed, screaming to my fiancé, ‘get off the bus!’ Afterwards, I saw that a plane had crashed it. I didn’t know who was on the plane at the time. When we realized that our people were on the plane, I found it very difficult to get assistance from anyone to help.’ Randy Rhoads was dead, but mourning for the man who, as Guitar World proclaimed, ‘could have been the greatest,’ had only just begun.

Essential Track: Flying High Again Face-melting tone achieved

Dimebag Darrell

Dimebag Darrell

What Happened?

On the twenty-fourth anniversary of the murder of John Lennon, a young Pantera fan named Nathan Gale shot and killed guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell on stage. A stocky former Marine, Gale was reportedly upset that Pantera had broken up – last year – and may have blamed Dimebag for the band’s acrimonious split. Sadly, this is also captured on video. You may also want to read this article to get more info.

Essential Track: Walk‘ Just because of that simple yet monstrous riff.

 

Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley

What Happened?

Jeff Buckley was shuffling through producers for his album and after more than a year of messing around, he’d settled on the time and place and band. It was pretty much the night the band came to town that he died. A coincidence that’s spawned some wild theories. As he was waiting for the band to arrive, him and “a roadie” were hanging out Wolf River, where Buckley often went to swim and laze around. That night, Buckley jumped in the river – fully clothed. The roadie turned his back to haul some gear away from of the water. When he turned around, Buckley’s body had vanished. They say he was caught in the wake of boat. And the Internet’s full of other tales – from suicide to joining the ‘Not Really Dead’ Elvis club.

Essential Track: Hallelujah Heartbreakingly beautiful

Duane Allman

Duane Allman

What Happened?

Duane Allman, slide guitar prodigy and driving force behind the Allman Brothers Band, died Friday, October 29th, 1971 from massive injuries received in a motorcycle crash, less than a month before his 25th birthday. He and the rest of the band had currently been in the middle of their first real vacation in more than two years. Duane had been vsiting the band’s ‘Big House’ to wish the wife of the band’s bassist a happy birthday. After leaving the house he swerved to avoid a truck which was moving in the same direction, but which he had evidently not seen in time. He died after three hours of emergency surgery at Macon Medical Center.

Essential Track: Whiping Post Perfection!

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

What Happened?

Yeah, well, we really don’t know but rest assured all scenarios are equally bad. Johnson’s only living friend Honeyboy Edwards backs up the popular story of whiskey poisoning (around 06:22) from a waitress paid by a jealous husband of one of the many women who caught his eye. Other theories involve complications from syphilis, a connective tissue disorder named Marfan Syndrome or simply, bad whiskey!

Essential Track: Cross Road Blues‘, Covered by more bands than we need mention.

Jam Master Jay

Jam Master Jay

What Happened?

Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell, the pioneering Run-D.M.C. member, was shot and killed in a Queens recording studio by an unknown assailant. At the time of his death, Mizell had already long cemented his legacy in hip hop, influencing virtually every DJ that came after him in scratching, look, attitude and performance. This cool documentary has the whole story!

Essential Track: It’s Tricky Yeah it is

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan

What Happened?

SRV was on tour with Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt and his brother Jimmie, in Wisconsin. Due to a misunderstanding between the managers there was only one open seat left at the helicopter leaving the show, which Stevie asked to take. Vaughan’s helicopter was piloted by Jeffrey Browne, who was unfamiliar with the flight pattern for exiting the area over a high altitude and in dense fog. The helicopter was guided off the landing zone, flying at a high speed about a half-mile and then veered off to one side, disappearing into the darkness and crushing into the hill.

Essential Track: Scuttle Buttin Fast, clean and rude.

Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher

What Happened?

Gallagher was an agile riff meister whose scrappy, energetic style was punctuated by occasional bursts of fluid, six string poetry. His playing was steeped in bluesy authenticity. Equally adept at electric or acoustic, slide and standard fretting, he brought to his guitar playing a boundless zeal that even years of hard touring and and numerous career disappointments did nothing to diminish. He died of liver transplant complication due to the complications of prescription medication and use of alcohol which damaged his lungs.

Essential Track: They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore Just, brilliant.

Joey Ramone

Joey Ramone

What Happened?

On April 15, 2001, Joey Ramone died in NYC’s Presbyterian Hospital due to complications from a form of cancer he had been battling for more than six years. He was 49. Along with his cohorts Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee Joey was credited with helping found the modern punk movement. With his trademark rose-colored shades, black leather jacket, shoulder-length hair, ripped jeans and alternately snarling and crooning, hiccoughing vocals, Joey was the iconic godfather of Punk.

Essential Track: Blitzkrieg Bop Hey Ho! Let’s Go!

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Skakur

What Happened?

On September 7, 1996, Tupac was in Las Vegas to attend a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon. Afterwards, 2Pac and Suge Knight headed for a nightclub where he was supossed to perform along Run DMC. Then a car pulled up to the right of them and fired thirteen bullets into the BMW. Tupac was hit three times, once in his chest, another in his right hip, and the third in his right hand while Knight was hit in the back of his neck. On Friday September 13th, he died from his wounds at 4:03 PM. After a small service in Las Vegas, Tupac was cremated, and probably scattered at sea. To date, no one has been arrested in connection to the killing.

Essential Track: Me Against The World A man must have a code…

notorious big party and bullshit

Notorious B.I.G.

What Happened?

Biggie was shot and killed while he was in a GMC Suburban with his entourage waiting at a red light. A black Chevrolet Impala SS pulled up next to the vehicle and the driver fired shots at the Suburban, with four shots hitting Biggie. I hear this book has a lot of insights on both 2pac and Biggie murders.

Essential Track: Big Poppa For that Isley Brothers slickness