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.

Robert Johnson – Cross Road Blues

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.

Jim Croce – You Don’t Mess Around With Jim

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”.

Hank Williams – 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).

Tupac – So Many Tears

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.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Tuesday’s Gone

32 thoughts on “TOP 5: TAKEN TOO SOON…”

  1. No particular order: Bob Marley, Biggie Smalls, Jeff Buckley, Kurt Cobain, Marvin Gaye.

  2. I would also throw out the drug rule and include Townes van Zandt. Sure, when you lived like him 52 might not have been “too soon” per say, but I’d include him just the same. And of course Cliff Burton.

  3. Nick Drake
    Richard Farina
    Gram Parsons
    Jay Reatard
    Bill Hicks

    P.S. Lynyrd Skynyrd>Allman Bros!

  4. Cliff Burton
    Kirk Rundstrom
    Jeffery Lee Pierce
    Mia Zappata
    El Duce
    Country’ Dick Montana

  5. Gonna have to say ditto to Jay being taken away too soon, it scared the shit outta me when he died. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for one of the guys I feel closer to to die.

    Alex Chilton, for sure. He still had some left in him.

    I know Jim Dickinson was 67, but that was still too young to go for someone with such a big personality, who left such a large impact on music(even if you’re unaware of it).

  6. John Bonham
    Keith Moon
    Kurt Cobain
    Gram Parsons
    Brian Jones

    On a side note I saw DimeBag perform 1 week before he was shot, a friend couldn’t go and gave me the tickets
    I also saw Mitch Mitchells last appearance at a Jimi tribute here in Polrtland.

  7. Clarence fucking White, In my opinion losing him was one of the biggest tragedies. So much potential never realized….those who know, know….those who don’t never will. Such a shame

    Buddy Holly, think about this….the impact of Buddy Holly’s death changed the course of popular music in the late 50’s early 60’s to the point that Leo Fender thought guitar music was dead and sold off Fender guitars to CBS. Then came the Beatles

    Jimi Hendrix, I love hendrix…and would have loved to see what kind of fucked up funk-psych (the direction he was moving in, and getting collabs setup for) he would have come up with. Hopefully he would not have made boring blues ala-clapton

    I’ll do 2 others in a minute….

  8. Stevie Ray Vaughn
    Elvis Presley (he was a fat bloated pig when he died, but still young enough to stage another comeback)
    Layne Staley

    I also whole-heartedly concur with the Gram Parsons and Buddy Holly mentions above.

  9. 2 others:

    Blaze Foley, talk about getting the shit end of every stick handed to you

    Eddie Shaver, much like Clarence White…another huge tragic loss.

  10. As Kurt Cobain said “its better to burn out than fade away”

    I don’t agree with him entirely but I often wonder what would have happend to people like Kurt,Jimi, and Jim Morrison. Would their music still be idolized today or would they have continued makeing music past their prime and lost the respect of their audience. Would they have stayed true to their beginnings or branched off and changed musical styles all together. Like DBT, for instance, if we lost them at The Dirty South they would be remembered as a legendary band, but now they seem to be slowly fading. IMO

    Just a thought……..

  11. Joe strummer – guy has a massive legacy already but I think those mescalo albums would have just kept comming and been good

    Otis redding – great voice, could have been one of the greats.

  12. In the post it is stated that Hank dided at age 59 but I believe he was much younger.

  13. gotta go with Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, Shannon Hoon ( I think given time and the chance to evolve Blind Melon or Shannon himself would have made amazing music * the NEW blind melon not included)and Jason Thirsk from Pennywise, if you dont get chills hearing bro hymn live, your not human.

  14. skynyrd not the best southern rock band? wow, that is probably the most blasphemous statement i have ever read. and yes, i am shortsighted and shallow. and damn proud of it too.

  15. Some great one’s mentioned so far – I’ll (try to) avoid mentioning any that have been named before and go with

    Brian Jones
    Marc Bolan
    Keith Relf
    Sam Cooke
    Ian Curtis

  16. Five more:

    Danny Gatton

    Terry Kath

    Janis Joplin

    Ron “Pigpen” McKernan

    Micheal Houser

  17. Definitely pigpen and houser…

    I would say Jerry Garcia, but I almost think it was his time to go…

  18. I don’t think any of these artist have been mentioned:

    Gene Clark
    Mike Bloomfield
    Paul Butterfield
    John Coltrane
    Sandy Denny

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