They spend more time in the air and on the road than us, their fame makes them the magnet for losers and drug dealers, their erratic self destructive behaviour is a given, and being born under a bad sign is always a boost for their creativity.
But why do some acts have more bad luck than others, and to what extent has it to do with supping with the Devil? Check out our A-Z exploration of just that below.
A = Allman Brothers
As blues-rock band The Allman Brothers roared out of Jackson, Florida, and set about becoming the US success story of the early ‘70s, their spending took off at a similar rate.
This included mountains of cocaine, their own plane, and more cocaine.
A 41-date US tour grossed $3 million (or $20 million at today’s rate) but extravaganzas left them with just $100,000 at the end.
Leader Duane ‘Skydog’ Allman was the rising star, not only with the Allmans’ records, but for his magnificent performance on Derek & The Dominoes’ ‘Layla’.
On October 29, 1971, he was riding his Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle at speed through Macon, Georgia, when a flatbed truck carrying a lumber crane stopped suddenly at the intersection of Hillcrest Avenue and Bartlett Street.
The 24-year-old swerved, but clipped the truck and was thrown off his bike. He died from massive internal injuries.
His death broke the band’s spirit, and bassist Berry Oakley was so devastated he began drinking heavily.
On November 11, 1972, a few blocks from Allman’s accident, Oakley crashed his motorbike into a bus and died of a fractured skull and cerebral swelling. He too was 24.
After that came dramas like Gregg Allman’s nine day marriage to Cher and his testimony for the FBI against his tour manager Scooter Herring, who was dealing for the Mafia, got his friend an initial 75 years jail.
Even two brothers who played in the touring band died within months of each other.
B = BIC Lighters
Here’s a dumbass urban legend that keeps on keeping on.
A white BIC disposable lighter is considered bad luck because, goes the myth, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain all had one when they changed their forwarding address to Kingdom Come.
Slight problem: Hendrix and Joplin died in 1970 and Morrison in 1971. The first disposable BIC lighter was produced in 1973.
Photographs released by Seattle Police in 2014 of Cobain’s suicide site showed two. A multi-coloured one in his heroin kit, and a pink one near the body.
Nothing white and nothing in his back pocket.
C = Clapton, Eric
Here’s a six-tissue tearjerker movie waiting to happen.
Slowhand’s 16-year old mother fell pregnant to a Canadian soldier based in England who then took off and sowed his wild oats in quite a few countries.
Eric grew up thinking his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his sister.
His spent his teen years yearning for his absent father when he learned the truth.
He then fell in love with best friend George Harrison’s wife Patti, and took to heroin when Patti refused to leave the ex-Beatle.
When they did get together, it fell apart quickly as he was going through two bottles of brandy a day.
He gave up in 1984 when his son Conor was born.
Four years later the boy accidentally fell 49 stories to his death from his mother’s New York apartment block.
Clapton never got over it, and his life and career began ending with loss of hearing and in 2016 a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, which causes numbness, shooting pains and a lack of coordination.
D = Dingoes, The
Emerging from Melbourne in the early ‘70s, The Dingoes ushered in an exhilarating country-rock sound weaved with songwriters in the ranks who came up with classics as ‘Way Out West’, “Boy On The Run’, ‘Come On Down’ and ‘Smooth Sailing’.
The word reached Peter Rudge, then manager of The Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
He took over their management in 1975, tapping producer Glyn Johns for their next album (although Johns later pull out to work with a bunch of unknowns called The Eagles) and getting them a deal with A&M Records.
British broadcaster and major influencer John Peel heard their music and championed them.
However Rudge kept them in Australia on a holding pattern while sorting out US deals.
As a result, The Dingoes wouldn’t commit themselves to long touring or recording in case they had to rush off to America. Hence they lost ground in Australia.
Rudge put them on Skynyrd’s US tour, set to be one of the year’s biggest treks.
The Dingoes flew to America. But two weeks before they joined the tour, Skynyrd’s plane crashed on October 20, 1977, killing three members (See L = Lynyrd Skynyrd below)
After that Rudge was so busy sorting out Skynyrd’s issues that The Dingoes were sidelined.
In hindsight, band member Kerryn Tolhurst tells Tone Deaf, they should have returned to Australia where they’d been offered a Peter Frampton tour rather than remain in the US where they recorded two critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful albums Five Times The Sun and Orphans Of The Storm.
They broke up in 1979.
In a postscript to their North American sojourn, when The Stones played their famous 1977 secret show at the El Mocambo club in Toronto, Canada, to record a live album, they advertised themselves on the venue’s posters as The Dingoes.
“What pissed me off was that they didn’t even invite us to the show,” chuckles Tolhurst who’s currently playing in Dingoradio, of songs he wrote in The Dingoes and Country Radio.
E = Eminem Curse
In 2012, fans of MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters insisted that the “Eminem Curse” existed – to wit, that the combatants who walked out to Eminem’s music lost 55% of their battles.
A Sherdog.com spreadsheet study found there were 86 losses when Em’s music blasted out, to 98 wins when it wasn’t. We’re not sure about the remaining 3.
F = Fleetwood Mac
The original Fleetwood Mac were a blues band formed in 1967 in London with a three-guitar all-male frontline and with hits as ‘Oh Well’, ‘Albatross’ and ‘Black Magic Woman’.
All their guitarists were cursed.
Peter Green, took too much LSD and went bonkers.
He claimed to be Jesus, saw angels. Insisted the band give their money away, worked as a grave digger, confronted his accountant for sending him royalty cheques, spent time in a mental institution and underwent electroshock therapy.
Slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer, 22, took too much mescaline during a visit to Los Angeles in 1971.
He casually told the band he was going to a bookstore, with $200 in pocket, and never came back.
Instead he joined a strange cult called the Children Of God which promoted free-love and open sex, started wearing rags and cut his long hair short.
In 1972 Danny Kirwan, who joined at 18, had a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
He had a meltdown in the dressing room, smashing his axe into a mirror. He then stood in the crowd hooting at Mac as they tried to do play without him.
They sacked him on the spot, after which he drifted from asylum inmate to being homeless and penniless and making four albums before heading to the great big jam session in the sky in June 2018.
Bob Weston who replaced Kirwan did himself no favours when he had an affair with drummer Mick Fleetwood’s wife Jenny Boyd and got the heave-ho.
He continued recording and performing until January 2012, when police found his 64-year old body in his London apartment. Cause: effects of a gastrointestinal haemorrhage caused by cirrhosis.
Also in 2012 Bob Welch was told he’d be confined to a wheelchair after complications from spinal surgery. He wrote a letter to his wife that he didn’t want to be a burden and shot himself in the chest.
G = Gibb Brothers aka the Bee Gees
Some people got the ju-jus right from the cradle. Barry Gibb whimpered to Rolling Stone that he almost didn’t make it out of childhood.
At 18 months, he knocked over a teapot and scalded himself so badly the doctors gave him 20 minutes to live. He spent three months in the hospital.
He fell through a roof, shot himself in the eye with a BB gun and was hit by a car… twice.
So being a walking disaster zone with its own post code set Bazza up to deal with the continued evil eye on the Bee Gees.
Youngest brother Andy, who idolised Barry, was groomed to eventually become the fourth Bee Gee.
But when he hit LA and bundled a couple of solo hits in the late ‘70s written by Barry, he developed a bad coke habit and was fired from his TV sitcom.
Drug abuse inflamed his heart and he died in 1988, five days after his 30th birthday.
Maurice Gibb had a massive drink problem which he overcame in the ‘90s.
But in 2003 he had a heart attack during an operation in Miami to remove an intestinal blockage.
While recovering at home, another attack dropped him at 53.
The Bee Gees for all purposes finished then, as the remainders – Barry and Robin – had a terse relationship and sometimes didn’t talk for a year.
They made up when Robin was dying from cancer.
Gibb lamented to Rolling Stone: “My only regret is that we weren’t great pals at the end. There was always an argument in some form.”
H = Holly, Buddy
February 2, 1959 is framed in Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ as “the day the music died.”
Three of ‘50s rock’s brightest sparks – Buddy Holly, 22, (‘Peggy Sue’, ‘Not Fade Away’), Richie Valens, 17 (‘La Bamba’, ‘Donna’) and The Big Bopper, 28 (‘Chantilly Lace’) crashed in poor wintry conditions in a snow-covered cornfield in Clear Lake, Iowa minutes after take-off.
They’d just played two sold-out shows.
The tour had been travelling on slow freezing buses, and the entourage suffered from flu and frostbite.
They also kept braking down, causing delays which meant no laundry got done as they moved from city to city.
Holly’s bright idea was to charter a plane ($36 a head) to get to next destination Moorhead, Minnesota with two others, and get the clothes done before the buses caught up.
All three of the dead had premonitions of their deaths.
Holly dreamt he was flying in a plane and left his new bride Maria behind on the top of a building.
Maria told Buddy she’d had a nightmare of her standing in the middle of a farm surrounded by fire.
The Big Bopper, a radio DJ in Texas, had taken part in the station’s Disc-A-Thon, staying up for five days straight playing records.
He had been hallucinating from weariness, and told colleagues, he had foreseen his death and “The other side wasn’t that bad.”
Valens developed a morbid fear of flying after seeing a plane on fire crash itno the playground of his Paicoma Junior High School on January 31, 1957.
Before the tour he went to church to pray for safety.
The curse continued after the air crash.
Texas singer songwriter Ronnie Smith who replaced Holly’s slot on the remainder of the tour, hanged himself in the bathroom of a mental hospital in 1962.
David Box who replaced Holly in his former backing band The Crickets, died in a small plane crash on October 23, 1964, after a gig.
It nosedived into the ground on take-off. He was 24, same age as Holly.
I = Iglesias, Enrique
During Enrique Iglesias’ 2015 Sex And Love world tour, drones flew over the crowd taking footage to flash on the big screens.
In Tijuana, Mexico, he grabbed one with the intention of giving the 12,000-strong crowd a stage view.
Its propellers shredded his fingers. He finished the show although clearly bleeding profusely,
He had reconstructive surgery and he’s still unable to feel the affected fingers to this day.
J = Johnson, Robert
Robert Johnson, the influential US blues pioneer from the Deep South, is the blueprint of a musician who did a deal with the Devil to make him a success.
In 1930, then 19, he got up uninvited to play with legends Son House and Willie Brown at a juke joint in Robinsonville, Mississippi.
The crowd booed his playing and he was thrown out.
The story goes he disappeared for a year.
He was next seen was when he turned up at a Son House and Willie Brown gig in Banks, Mississippi.
According to Netflix doco ReMastered: Devil At The Crossroads, he was toting a guitar case on his back, and duly scoffed at by the older musicians.
“Boy, now where are you going with that thing?” House sniggered. “To noise somebody to death again?”
Johnson pulled out a six-string with an extra seventh string, and played a dazzling set which was described as someone playing with three hands.
The rumours about his dancing with Mr. D flew around the South.
The real story was, as usually, more of a snoreway.
What happened was that Johnson returned to his hometown Hazelhurst, Mississippi, and learned from legend, Ike Zimmerman, for three years (and not one) and practised relentlessly.
Zimmerman would take his pupil to the local graveyard to practise telling him, “No matter how bad you sound out here, nobody is going to complain.”
But for illiterate God-fearing rural folk there was only one explanation for his new skills.
What’s more, the songs he recorded like ‘Hellhound on My Trail’, ‘Me And The Devil Blues’ and ‘Up Jumped the Devil’ were considered thank you’s to you-know-who.
His signature tune ‘Crossroads’, actually about the change in his life, cemented the rumour, and the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49 is commemorated with three blue guitars.
Johnson became one of the most admired blues guitarists, whose finger picking style inspired Eric Clapton, Brian Jones, Bob Dylan and Keith Richards.
When he died in 1936 at the young age of 27 it was not from the effect of a life of hard drinking and womanising.
No, siree, it seemed more obvious: the Devil had kept to his side of the bargain and now came to collect.
See more details in T = The 27 Club below.
K = Karaoke
Can a song be cursed?
Karaoke bars in the Philippines refuse to feature Frank Sinatra’s 1969 hit ‘My Way’.
Reason: six people have died violent deaths in the decade up to 2010 while singing it, claims the New York Times put the figure at 12.
Was it the song, or are such bars aggressive places where fights break out when patrons breach karaoke etiquette like laughing at the singer, doing the same song or refusing to surrender the mic.
But French megastar Claude Francois who wrote the original French version of ‘My Way’ was electrocuted in his Paris apartment on March 11, 1978.
He was trying to straighten a bathroom light fitting while taking a shower. He was 39.
There’s also ‘Gloomy Sunday’ written by Hungarian chappies Rezs Seress and Ladislas Javorun about the suicide of Seress’ girlfriend.
It was so weepy and tormented it inspired listeners to take their lives when released in Hungary in 1933.
It was commonly referred to as the Hungary Suicide Song and pulled from airplay.
The best known version, by Billie Holiday in 1941, was banned by the BBC.
Just to bookend the tale, Seress killed himself as well.
L = Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd roared out of Florida in the ‘70s determined to be America’s answer to The Rolling Stones.
Led by singer and main songwriter Ronnie Van Zandt, they’d built themselves up with live shows and his anthems as ‘Freebird’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.
By October 1977, their fifth album Street Survivors (with a burning plane on its front sleeve) was set to be their breakthrough.
Skynyrd began touring with gusto to promote it, leasing a twin prop plane.
There were already warning signs the Convair CV-240 was bad medicine.
Aerosmith had also wanted to charter it but passed after an inspection, more so when they noticed the pilot and co-pilot exchanging a bottle of whiskey.
On October 18 as Skynyrd flew from Lakeland, Florida to Greenville, South Carolina, 10-foot sparks and flames shot out of the right engine.
It landed safely, but band and crew insisted the plane be replaced.
That would have meant cancelling some shows and Van Zandt refused.
The leader was not one to argue with. An aggressive drunk, he’d punched out two teeth of keyboard player Billy Powell for over-extending the piano intro of ‘Free Bird’ and slashed the hands of guitarist Gary Rossington (his best friend) with a broken beer bottle after a disagreement.
24 were on the plane as it took off on October 20 to the next show, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Just over McComb, Mississippi, the pilots tried to shift petrol from one engine to the other.
But they accidentally jettisoned all the petrol, and the plane fell from 9,000 feet and hit some trees at 90 mph in the darkness.
Three died: Van Zandt, guitarist Steve Gaines, and his backing vocalist sister Cassie Gaines.
Some of the survivors who stumbled to a nearby farm for help were almost shot by the farmer who thought they were escaped convicts.
Skynyrd continued but never hit the heights again.
Guitarist Allen Collins continued being thunder-pucked.
In 1981 his pregnant wife died after she began bleeding. He became drinking heavily after that.
Five years later he was testing out his new black Ford Thunderbird and accidentally drove off a ravine, killing his girlfriend and leaving him paralysed.
He died in January 1990 from pneumonia resulting from injuries sustained in the accident.
On January 28, 2009, Powell died of a suspected heart attack at age 56 at his home.
Original drummer Bob Burns died aged 64 on April 3, 2015 after his car crashed into a tree near his home.
Former member Ed King died of cancer in August 2018 aged 68.
Bassist Larry Junstrom died in October 2019, followed by bassist Leon Wilkeson of various substance-related issues in 2001 at the age of 49.
M = Matchbox, Captain
Melbourne-hailed 1970s jug band Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, based around brothers Mic and Jim Conway, had hits with ‘Wangaratta Wahine’ and ‘My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes’ and appeared in Tim Burstall’s Dmbooila movie.
The Conways’ dream had always been to tour America where their records got good reviews.
A nine week tour opening for US bluesman John Lee Hooker and some club headliners was good news.
But it was cancelled when Hooker had a stroke a week before the shows.
A 1979 truck crash in which left one of their road crew dead and two injured, ruined the band financially and emotionally. They were uninsured. After spending six months paying off their debts to the production and truck companies, they broke up in September 1980.
N = Number 9
The assassination of John Lennon on December 1980 outside the Dakota building in New York, is regarded by some as part of the Rosemary’s Baby curse.
Rosemary’s Baby was a controversial 1968 satanic movie which brought bad luck to those involved in it.
According to one report actress Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson and his gang, who had been inspired by the “messages” in Beatles songs as ‘Revolution’, ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Piggies’.
Tate’s director husband Roman Polanski later had to flee the US after being charged with having sex with a 13-year old aspiring actress.
Others involved were hit with runs of bad luck.
The movie was shot at the Dakota, using the name ‘The Brampton’, with Polanski choosing the 19th century building because it “smelled of death”.
The Rosemary’s Baby curse link to Lennon’s death is admittedly a stretch.
But not so the #9.
John Ono Lennon and Yoko Ono (nine Os in their names) were returning from the recording studio to their apartment #72 (7 + 2 = 9) at the Dakota where a deranged nobody tried to grab celeb status by shooting a great person.
He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, on 9th Avenue.
It was the night of December 8 in New York – but it was already the 9th in Liverpool, England (nine words) where he was born and grew up.
The Beatles Bible noted that Lennon was born on October 9, 1961, at 6.30 pm (6 + 3 = 9). and his first home was 9 Newcastle Road, Wavertree, Liverpool.
The Beatles’ first appearance at the Cavern Club was on February 9, 1961.
They were spotted there on November 9, 1961 by music store owner Brian Epstein who offered to become their manager.
The Beatles’ appeared nine times on TV’s Ed Sullivan Show, which launched them to massive US success.
Lennon and Ono met on November 9, 1966 and their son Sean was born on October 9, 1975.
Three of his songs were titled ‘One After 909’, ‘Revolution No. 9’ and ‘#9 Dream”, the latter reaching #9 on the US charts.
O = O’Keefe, Johnny
Sydney born Johnny O’Keefe was one of the first Australian 1950s rock and rollers, and the first to make the local Top 40 charts.
His hits included ‘Shout!’, ‘She’s My Baby’ and an ode to his nickname ‘Wild One’ which was also a hit for Iggy Pop decades later as ‘Real Wild Child’.
A shameless self-promoter, he was also the first to tour the US, where he called himself Boomerang Boy and famously threatened to jump off the 80th floor ledge of New York’s Empire State Building unless the city’s DJs played his record.
An uncharitable magazine letter writer suggested someone give him a push – as that would be the only “smash hit” he’d have there (on the pavement).
He was already suffering from a nervous breakdowns but O’Keefe’s world changed on June 27, 1960 when he was returning to the Sydney from the Gold Coast in his famous Plymouth Belvedere, accompanied by guitarist Johnny Greenan and Greenan’s wife Janice.
About 20 kilometres north of the NSW country town of Kempsey, the Plymouth crashed into a gravel truck.
All three had seriously injuries, with O’Keefe fracturing his head and face (he needed 27 operations to fix his face), losing four teeth and suffering concussion.
He continued to record but the crash triggered a change in personality and mental health issues, worsened by his heavy drinking and drug use.
During a visit to London, he collapsed in his hotel room and woke up three days later in a psychiatric ward claiming he was Jesus.
Back in Australia, he continued to face mental and medical problems until his death in 1978.
P = Premonitions
Amy Winehouse told friends she’d be dead by 27.
Mac Miller’s last video featured him in a casket on which he carved “remember you have to die” in Latin.
Proof from Detroit rappers D12, who was fatally shot during an argument in a club, had on their 2004 album D12 World stated “I’m in the club to beef, you gotta murder me there.”
Jeff Buckley’s ‘Brother’ alluded to a drowning.
Who drummer Keith Moon is seen seated on a prop chair inscribed ‘Not To Be Taken Away’ on the cover of his final album with the band.
At 24, reggae mastah Bob Marley, acknowledged as a psychic of world affairs, forecast he’d die at 36.
Q = Quotes
‘Cause I’m in love with bad luck/ I’m in love with bad luck,” Khalid, ‘Bad Luck’
“Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming” – David Bowie.
“It was a shock of course when somebody puts a use by date on me, but I still hung on to a shred of hope that I’d get back on the stage at some point,” Doc Neeson of The Angels on ABC-TV’s Australian Story.
“Born under a bad sign
I’ve been down since I began to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck,
I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”
– blues song ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’
“We’ve all got out self-destructive bad habits, the trick is to find four or five you personally like the best and just do those all the time” – David Lee Roth of Van Halen.
“Fourteen heart attacks, and he had to die in my week” – Janis Joplin on being bumped off the cover of Newsweek when US president Dwight D. Eisenhower died in March 1969.
R = Ramones, The
In a detailed 2016 piece called The Curse Of The Ramones, Rolling Stone explained why they never had a hit even though their influence on music was immense.
The four grew up with brutal drunken fathers, and had a bitter view towards life.
Joey Ramone was diagnosed in his teens as paranoid schizophrenic, “with minimal brain damage”.
When he was born doctors had to remove a large tumour on his spine which resulted in a tendency to infections and bad blood circulation throughout his life.
In 1994 he was diagnosed with lymphoma, which made it difficult to keep up with their fast-paced set.
The 22-year feud between Joey and Johnny Ramone when they hardly spoke to each other worsened whe Johnny stole his girlfriend and married her.
Even when Joey was dying, Johnny refused to visit him.
On April 15th, 2001, Joey’s family and a few friends gathered at his bedside and.doctors turned off his respirator.
They played one of his favourite songs, U2’s “In A Little While” (“In a little while/This hurt will hurt no more/I’ll be home, love”). By the time it finished he was dead, at 49.
Dee Dee Ramone, who was bipolar, was found in his apartment, dead of an overdose of heroin, a foot away from the couch he was reaching for.
Johnny who battled prostate cancer since 1997, died on September 15th, 2004 at his home in Los Angeles, surrounded by his wife and some friends. He was 55.
He said, “I had an image, and that image was anger.” He was upset that retirement and cancer had “softened” him.
Tommy Ramone ended his run on July 11, 2014, at his home in Queens, NYC, of cancer of the bile duct.
S = Spades, Ace Of
By 1986, Metallica were becoming a major draw, and touring the world extensively.
On the night of Sept. 26, 1986 they were travelling by bus in Sweden.
Guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Cliff Burton drew cards to decide who would get the much-sought-after upper bunk at the back of the bus.
Burton won by drawing the Ace of Spades.
Hammett said, “Fine, take my bunk, I’ll sleep up front; it’s probably better anyway.”
Just before 7 am on the 27th, the bus hit black ice and flipped.
Burton fell out the window and was crushed when the bus landed on him.
A crane which pulled the bus off his body slipped, and the bus fell on the bassist a second time.
T =The 27 Club
The idea of rock stars shaking hands with the Grim Reaper at the age of 27 has been glamorised in song.
The most recent notable, Halsey’s ‘Colors’ stated, “I hope you make it to the day you’re 28 years old”.
Studies have actually shown that number of those who kark it at 27 is small.
A look at musicians who died over seven decades (1950 to 2010) found that 1.3% (or 144) died at that age.
Comparatively, 128 (or 1.2%) went at 26 and 153 (1.4%) at 28.
The most catching the death flag (239 or 2.2%) were aged 56.
The stand-out members of the 27 Club are:
Brian Jones, found at the bottom of his swimming pool on July 3, 1969, a month after being booted out of the Stones for being a basket case.
“Misadventure” said the coroner, “murder” responded others.
Jimi Hendrix had problems sleeping– he was unhappy with his music, wanted to cut ties with his manager and was it with a paternity suit.
On September 18, 1970, he swallowed nine sleeping tablets after drinking a case of champagne. The doctor who attended to him in hospital was a young Australian, Bob Brown, who later led the Greens.
Janis Joplin could sing the blues with the best of them but her heroin habit was as nasty as her drinking.
She was found on October 4, 1970, half slumped from her bed, the needle still stuck to her arm.
The Doors’ Jim Morrison was in his Paris apartment bathtub after a heart attack on July 3, 1971.
Kurt Cobain started to take heroin to numb sharp stomach pains. He went to rehab in Los Angeles but checked out and flew back to Seattle where he shot himself at his home on April 5, 1994.
Amy Winehouse’s magnificent voice and writing skills was dulled through time by heavy substance use and mental illness.
Near death experiences and intervention moves by her family didn’t scare her away.
On July 23, 2011 her bodyguard tried to wake her at 10 am and returned at 3 pm to find her in the same sleeping position.
One time Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff decided to leave the band and her drug habit by returning to hometown Minneapolis. But on June 16, 1994, on the eve of her departure from Seattle, she OD’d in her apartment.
Chicago drill artist Fredo Santana found success fast – and with it, its excesses.
A high level intake of “purple drank” (cough syrup) led to heart and kidney issues and he died on January 19, 2018 in hospital.
US bluesman Robert Johnson’s death was as colourful as his life. Theories are he died of syphilis or drank whiskey poisoned either by an angry husband of a woman he flirted with or one of his girlfriends.
Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan of the Grateful Dead was a heavy drinker and had to give up touring on March 6, 1973, dying after an internal haemorrhage.
Damien Morris, singer of Geelong, Victoria, deathcore band The Red Shore, died on December 19, 2007 after their minivan veered off the Pacific Highway north of Coffs Harbour, at 7 am. They were on tour with US outfit All Shall Perish. The crash also took the life of merchandising/ road crew member Andy Milner.
Pete Ham’s band Badfinger were hailed as the next Beatles, their first hit ‘No Matter What’ written by Paul McCartney and ‘Day By Day’ produced by George Harrison.
But their US manager disappeared with a $600,000 advance from their record company Warner Bros, and the company wanted ot back.
Penniless and frightened, the guitarist drank ten Scotches and hung himself in his garage leaving a pregnant girlfriend.
Eight years later, band-mate Tom Evans hung himself in his garden also over financial issues, while drummer Mike Gibbins died in his sleep in 2005, from a brain aneurysm.
Chris Bell of US power pop legends Big Star crashed his car into a power pole on December 27, 1978.
Linda Jones was heading to be a great gospel-soul singer but died of a diabetic coma in March 1972
D. Boon, innovative guitarist with US punk band The Minutemen died in December 1984 in a van crash in the Arizona desert when its axle broke.
Trinidad-born Pete de Freitas, who played on the first five Echo and the Bunnymen albums was in June 1987 riding his 900cc Ducati motorcycle from London to Liverpool when it collided with a van.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27_Club for more club memberships.
U = Urban Myths
Keith Richards snorted the ashes of his father and went to a Swiss clinic at the height of his heroin habit to completely change his blood to stay alive.
An Australian pop singer from the ‘60s was found hung with his penis cut off and stuck in his mouth.
To get the scream in Ohio Players’ ‘Love Rollercoaster’ (1975), the band killed a woman. Real story was a woman was murdered in the apartment block next to when they were recording.
US soul singer Jackie Wilson was onstage singing “my heart is crying” when he had a heart attack and was in a coma for a few months.
Elvis Presley made a pact with the Devil as well, apparently, which explains why he and Robert Johnson died on the same day and month 39 years apart.
A man was murdered by Hells Angels right in front of the stage when The Rolling Stones were performing ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ at the infamous Altamont concert in 1969 (actually it was ‘Under My Thumb’).
The line in Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ (1981) “Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand” led to speculation Collins had witnessed such an incident and seen the culprit while performing the song one night.
V = Vomit
Jimi Hendrix AC/DC’s Bon Scott and Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham were just three who drank so much they choked on their vomit.
W = ‘What About Me’
‘What About Me’, the 1982 power ballad by Sydney band Moving Pictures reached #1 in Australia, and began streaking up the US charts.
It suddenly stopped at #29 which mystified the band, until they learned that the US label had gone belly-up.
Keyboard player Garry Frost who co-wrote the song with Frances Swan based on his experiences as a social worker with learning disability children, went on to form 1927 which had a hit with ‘That’s When I Think Of You’ (1988).
When it reached #46 in the UK, they were booked onto the Wogan TV show, whose huge ratings would have nudged it into the Top 30, after which heavy radio airplay would have got it into the Top 10.
Frost tells Tone Deaf, “It was the deal breaker for 1927 because it was the biggest evening TV show in the UK.
“But on the night we were to appear, it was hit by industrial action and it didn’t screen.”
X = Xcellence
Winning the Best New Artist category of the Grammys has been a curse for some of its winners.
Just ask Milli Vanelli, Jody Watley, Toni Braxton, Lauryn Hill, Starland Vocal Band, Meghan Trainor, The Carpenters and A Taste of Honey.
Of 36 honourees, 21 never won another Grammy.
Australia’s Men At Work took it in 1983, and its singer Colin Hay referred to as “best-new-artist-slash-kiss-of-death award.”
In their case, record sales dropped, one member served a jail sentence, the lengthy court case over the ‘Kookaburra’ riff cost them $1 million and a despondent Greg Ham who’d played the riff on ’Down Under’ felt so disgraced he took to drinking heavily.
He died in Melbourne on April 19, 2012 apparently from a heart attack.
Y = You’re Fired!
Dave Evans (AC/DC), Pete Best (The Beatles), John Kiffmeyer (Green Day) Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd), Jason Everman (Nirvana, Soundgarden), Henry Padovani (The Police), Jeremy Paul (The Divinyls), Andy Wickett (Duran Duran), Jason Cropper (Weezer), Steve Hill (Skyhooks) and Tracii Guns (Guns N’Roses) had one thing in common.
They were fired (or left) just before their bands became massive.
Z = Zeppelin, Led
That Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page had a deep interest in the occult is not denied.
He owned an occult bookstore Equinox and helped make black magic movies.
He was particularly interested in British black magic practitioner Aleister Crowley, whom he dubbed “a genius” although the British press referred to him as “the most evil man in the world.”
He spent a lot of money on Crowley paraphernalia, and even buying Crowley’s castle Boleskin House, built in 1760 on Loch Ness, Scotland, where he (Crowley) practised endless rituals, some unfinished.
An episode of Rock And Roll Twilight Zone looks in depth at Page’s interest.
In the mid-70s, Page was supposed to write the score for film maker Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising.
The score was not finished, and Anger announced he had put a curse on Page and his band.
From 1976 to 1980 Zeppelin had a series of ill-luck.
Tours were cancelled as Page cut his finger or singer Robert Plant was in a foot cast after a car accident when he was holidaying in Greece with his family.
More serious, his five year old son Karac died of a mysterious stomach virus, and the death of drummer John Bonham after a massive drinking session in 1980 finished the band off for good … just weeks before they were to announce an Australian tour.