December 8, 1980 & December 8, 2004. John Lennon and Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott respectively were shot. If there is a running theme in music besides “Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll” it’s the consistent muting of some of it’s brightest stars before their time and I thought today’s Top 5 could acknowledge that.
So, today’s Top 5 is “Artists Who Died Too Soon”.
Here are mine:
Robert Johnson: The lack of reliable documentation about Robert’s life has allowed plenty of rumor and conjecture up to and including the story the he sold his soul to the devil. However, what is known is that Robert Johnson recorded exactly 29 songs and in doing so, essentially defined a genre. On August 16, 1938, Robert died at the age of 27 from symptoms consistent with strychnine poisoning.
Jim Croce: Jim released 3 albums while he was alive. His 4th album, I Got A Name, was released shortly after his airplane crashed in Louisiana on September 20, 1973. While Jim’s best known for hits like “Operator”, “Time In A Bottle” and “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song” I think his more interesting works were his character songs.
Hank Williams: Died on January 1, 1953 at the age of 29 and still worshiped at the altars of country music some 50+ years later. Originally, I wasn’t gonna include anyone who died from a drug overdose on my list but it kept feeling incomplete without Hank on it so I broke my one rule. I guess Hank was worth that though. Interesting factoid: The last single released while Hank was alive was the prophetic, “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive”.
Tupac Shakur: It’s easy to just blow 2Pac off as “a gangsta rapper”. It’s easy for people who aren’t fans of hiphop to just blow rap off all together. Both are shortsighted and shallow. If ever the phrase, “muting of some of it’s brightest stars before their time” applied to an artist, it’s Tupac (though he has released more albums dead than he ever did alive).
Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines & Cassie Gaines: Were they the best southern rock band? Probably not. Do they define it the southern rock sound? No doubt about it and they might have gone on to be the most important band to ever emerge from the south. But an airplane took that chance away in 1977.