Alive, their life was shrouded in a thick veil of mystery and even in their death; they refuse to rest in peace and are still a part of our collective consciousness, haunting us as unruly bacchanalian deities, satanic sex gods, cultural icons, myths, legends, folklore and what not.
They defined an era, they ruled our hearts, they made women go weak in knees with their charm offensive, they made a generation swoon to their limerick and some of them were even the conscious keepers of our society.
Welcome to the history of Rock and Roll’s most famous dead rock stars, who even after their death, refuse to lie down, enjoying eternal siesta in their grave, continuing to beguile us till infinity.
Here’s a tribute to the greatest dead rock stars, what more can one say than long live the dead!
Elvis Presley (08th January 1935 – 16th August 1977): King of Rock and Roll, ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ aka Elvis Presley was not only an American cultural icon but one of the biggest rockstars of the twentieth century.
Blessed with Greek god looks and a golden voice, Mississippi born Elvis became the incandescent star of Rock and Roll, who was known for his energetic, up-temp songs, which catapulted him to instant stardom. A prolific singer, Elvis was comfortable in every possible genre, pop, country and blues, which suited the timbre of his full throated voice and rich baritone.
King of rockabilly, Elvis gave evergreen hits like ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’, ‘Suspicious Minds’, ‘The Wonder Of You’, ‘Burning Love’ and lot more.
With long sideburns, dog collar shirts and bellbottom pants, Elvis Presley transformed into one of the greatest Rock and Roll sex icons. Alas, living life on fast track, King of Rock and Roll bid adieu to the world dying of a heart attack due to drug intoxication.
John Lennon (09th October 1940 – 08th December 1980): The greatest and biggest rock stars of all, John Lennon touched the pinnacle of fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the biggest commercially and critically acclaimed super groups in the history of Rock and Roll, which became a force to reckon with in the era surrounded by the ghoul of Vietnam war, counter culture and Hippie movement.
A true working class hero, Lennon became a cultural symbol due to his anti-war sentiments and spirit of world harmony, which reflected in his songs like ‘Imagine’, ‘Give Peace A Chance’, ‘Power To The People’, ‘Starting Over’, ‘Woman’ and ‘Working Class Hero’.
Lennon was gunned down by Mark David Chapman on 08th Dec 1980 at 10:50 pm, four times, while the musician was accompanied by his wife Yoko Ono.
Jimi Hendrix (27th Nov 1942 – 18th September 1970): James Marshall Jimi Hendrix was a deft electric guitarist and songwriter, who gained immense popularity while playing with his band Jimi Hendrix Experience and as a solo artist.
Hendrix was a guitar prodigy, who mastered the art of sonic laden guitar riffs and prolific use of guitar effects like wah-wah pedals in his performance, be it psychedelic rock, blues-rock, funk rock or hard rock.
A great artist, Hendrix chart topping songs included ‘Purple Haze’, ‘Voodoo Child’, ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Are You Experienced?’, ‘Foxy Lady’ and ‘Burning of the Midnight Lamp’ to name a few.
Hendrix died on 18th September 1970 due to an overdose of sleeping pills. When revived, he asphyxiated in his own vomit. In 2009, a conspiracy theory of Hendrix’s murder came to limelight, when James Wright accused Hendrix’s manager Mike Jeffery for his death, which was found completely groundless.
Jim Morrison (8th December 1943 – 3rd July 1971): James Douglas Jim Morrison was one of the iconic figures and an enigmatic frontman in the history of Rock and Roll. Singer-songwriter of American band The Doors, Morrison was a true troubadour, whose lyrics and poetry were infused with the angst of the changing times.
A modern day prophet, Morrison’s lyrics were highly inspired by the philosophical tracts of Nietzsche, William Blake, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire. Morrison was the undisputed king of psychedelic rock, who belted hits like ‘Light My Fire’, ‘Touch Me’, ‘People Are Strange’, ‘Roadhouse Blues’, ‘The Unknown Soldier’ and ‘The End’.
A wild child, Morrison had open relationships with many independent, intellectual and attractive women, which included Nico, Grace Slick and Janis Joplin, while enjoying a long-term relationship with Pamela Courson. A great cultural icon, poet and philosopher, Morrison died on 3rd July 1971, probably due to heroin overdose.
Janis Joplin (19th January 1943 – 4th October 1970): A Rebel, freak and a bohemian chick, Janis Joplin was the destiny’s child in psychedelic era and Hippie movement. Janis was a handful female rockstars who tasted commercial success and critical acclaim in the 60s.
With her trademark dishevelled hair, big shades, scarves, beads and bluesy-vocals, Janis was the singer-songwriter in Big Brother and the Holding Company, Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band, which gave hits like ‘Trouble In Mind’, ‘Down On Me’, Piece Of My Heart’, ‘Bye Bye Baby’, ‘Mercedez Benz’ and ‘Trust Me’.
Janis Joplin died at 27-years of age due to heroin overdose and a cocktail of alcohol.
Freddie Mercury (5th September 1946 – 24th November 1991): Freddie Mercury aka Farrokh Bulsara was a British musician of Indian descent. Freddie was the lead singer-songwriter and composer for English rock band Queen, which composed several chart-busters, including ‘I Want To Break Free’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘We Are The Champions’, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ ‘Killer Queen’ and ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’.
Freddie was a soprano, whose remarkable vocal harmonies propelled him into the list of greatest singers in Rock and Roll. A flamboyant stage performer, Feddie was known for his consummate stage presence.
Honest and open about his sexual preferences, Freddie was a gay, who died of bronchial pneumonia due to AIDS.
John Bonham (31st May 1948 – 25th September 1980): John Bonham was English musician, percussionist and songwriter of Led Zeppelin.
Bonham can be credited for inventing the groove based style of drumming, which included rhythmic and layered drumming patterns with speed. Bonham’s intricate drumming style is seen in Led Zeppelin anthems like ‘Immigrant Song’, ‘Kashmir’, ‘Whole Lotta Love’, ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and ‘Black Dog’ to name a few.
Bonham died at 32 years of age, probably due to heavy drinking, which included sixteen shots of vodka a day before he passed out. It is believed that before his death, Bonham took forty shots of vodka, which caused asphyxiation of vomit.
Kurt Cobain (20th February 1967 – 5th April 1994): One of the greatest singer-songwriter ever produced by the grunge scene, Kurt Cobain was the frontman of Nirvana, a band which tasted instant success and went on to become Numero Uno of grunge rock, more famous than Soundgarden and Alice In Chain, two prominent grunge bands of the mid- 1980s.
It was Nirvana that pushed grunge into mainstream music, and made Cobain the pin-up boy of the 90s, who constantly battled with drugs, chronic depression, illness and fame. Nirvana gave hits like ‘Rape Me’, ‘Smells Like A Teen Spirit’, ‘Come As You Are’, ‘Lithium’, ‘Sliver’ and ‘All Apologies’ and faced biggest tragedy in the death of its 27-year-old frontman – Kurt Cobain, who sick of fame, shot himself dead.