Rock Legends We Lost During The ’80s
Roy Orbison live in 1974 - andre van cleemput / Youtube
Drugs, sex, booze, anything edgy really – these were the trademark of a rock n’ roll life. But this was usually a bright and brief affair unless you’re Keith Richards. But is it really better to burn out, than fade away? Here are some rockstar deaths that shook the industry in the ’80s.
Bon Scott (1980)
AC/DC’s enigmatic frontman dealt a huge blow to the band in his passing. Scott passed out in his car after a drinking session and choked on his own vomit, killing him in the process. While there have been various rumors floating around regarding the instance of his death, almost everyone can agree that AC/DC was never the same without his energy in the fold.
Ian Curtis (1980)
Ian Curtis of Joy Division was in the midst of divorce woes when he took the matter to his own hands. He has been quite vocal about his fears and trepidation, with various suicidal tendencies showing through. Curtis was somewhat receptive to these tendencies, citing that he had done his share in the world and it was time to rest.
John Bonham (1980)
Bonham started the rehearsals for an upcoming tour with a ginormous breakfast of booze, which didn’t stop as the rehearsals ensued. A tired Bonham fell asleep by midnight of September 25, 1980, and was put to bed. He was later found unresponsive and choked on his vomit, succumbing to death in the process. Led Zeppelin ended right then and there.
John Lennon (1980)
John Lennon was just breaking into his solo career with the Double Fantasy release when his life was cut short by a rabid fanatic. Just shortly after signing album copies at an event, Lennon was shot point-blank in the back by Mark Chapman, leaving the world one Beatle less.
Karen Carpenter (1983)
While Karen Carpenter wasn’t really a rock star in the strictest sense, she could hold her own with her exemplary drumming skills. Carpenter was plagued with anorexia and body dysmorphia, which took a toll on her health as she continued her goal to bring down her weight. She somehow bounced back from it all, gaining weight after a medical intervention – but this would cause issues later on as her heart was already too weak to support her sudden weight gain. She collapsed in her parents’ home, with paramedics finding her heart beating once every 10 seconds. She died shortly after.
Felix Pappalardi (1983)
Mountain frontman and bassist Felix Pappalardi was enjoying life after his onstage stint by being a producer, but this came with a price. His open marriage setup didn’t work well with his wife Gail, who killed him with a derringer he gave her as a gift a few months earlier.
Muddy Waters (1983)
Blues legend Muddy Waters was pretty accomplished when he kicked the bucket, as he died in the ripe age of 70. Waters was suffering from cancer-related complications when a heart failure took him in his sleep on April 30, 1983.
Phil Lynott (1986)
Thin Lizzy’s frontman and bassist Phil Lynott spent his final years being highly dependent on drugs and alcohol. On Christmas day in 1985, Lynott collapsed because of this. He was immediately given medical treatment and regained consciousness, but only enough to talk to his mother. He eventually succumbed to pneumonia and heart failure on January 4, 1986.
Jaco Pastorius (1987)
Funk fretless bass legend Jacob Pastorius of Weather Report was definitely ahead of his time but suffered from personal trials throughout his career. He developed a self-destructive behavior of inciting bar fights and allowing himself to be beaten up. During one occasion, he bore the brunt of a club manager (who was also a martial artist) and was beaten to a pulp that resulted in a coma. He soon went brain dead and was taken off life support on September 21, 1987, at the age of 35.
Roy Orbison (1988)
Rock ballader Roy Orbison painted the genre with themes of vulnerability, not afraid to go against the grain of machismo. Orbison was just having his shot at career redemption when he suddenly suffered from health problems, but he soldiered on nonetheless. After a barrage of show dates, Orbison went back to his home to spend quality time with his family. On December 8, 1986, he flew model airplanes with his children and had dinner at his mother’s house, but suffered a heart attack later that day and died.