Category Archives: Making Music

5 Influential Musicians Who Died Too Young

Some of the greatest lights the musical world has ever seen have been extinguished way too early. Though in some ways it might be nice to be so extremely talented that everything you ever needed to do to change the world could be accomplished before the age of 40 [or 30 sometimes!], in other ways, there’s a lot of great life events that would be missed. Here are the 5 most influential musicians who died too young.

1. Bob Marley

How did Bob Marley die? He had melanoma that had spread to his lungs and his brain. What made Marley influential was the fact that his music encompassed societal issues, religious components, and cultural components that could really touch a person’s soul. His passion for music and life was contagious, yet in some ways, it also seemed like Marley was chasing life as he was creating music too. His last words to his son were “Money can’t buy life.” That final thought is as profound as it is simple, which is how Marley’s music can be seen in many ways as well.

2. Kurt Cobain

How did Kurt Cobain die? Unfortunately it was by suicide. What I remember about Cobain is the story of how they were still driving around in a van, couch surfing between shows, even though their album had already gone platinum. People were craving his music and loving the grunge sound that his band produced and it just ended up being too much. My kids today here is music and ask when they can go to that band’s concert. That in itself is a good enough reason to have Cobain on this list.

3. Janis Joplin

How did Janis Joplin die? It was because of a drug overdose. Joplin had a stage presence that transcended her music. She might have had only one #1 hit in her brief four year career, but her music was able to touch people on an emotional level that is unequalled to this day. An original and unique voice, critics compared her often to Elvis Presley with her ability to engage with her fans. Many of today’s female artists consider Joplin a major influence, which is precisely why she deserves to be on this list.

4. Jimi Hendrix

How did Jimi Hendrix die? It was also because of a drug overdose. Hendrix died just 16 days earlier than Joplin and that period of time shocked the music industry. With Hendrix, you’ve got a man who understood that language of music better than anyone ever before or maybe ever since. There are many guitarists who are great and respected, but no one can ever compare to what Hendrix was able to do with that instrument. As one of the best musicians who has ever lived, his influence is felt in every guitar riff that is created in a song solo.

5. Frank Zappa

How did Frank Zappa die? It was from prostate cancer. So Zappa did have a career that spanned over 30 years and he lived into his 50’s, which really isn’t that bad when you compare it to other musicians who died too young, but considering the immense talent that Zappa had, who knows what he could have done with even just 5 or 10 extra years of life. An independent musician for most of his career, his influence is often seen in other indy artists who are striving to create their own brand of art, even if it doesn’t bring commercial success.

Why Do So Many Successful Musicians Use Drugs?

Ah, music and drug use…the two seem forever intertwined with one another when it comes to cultural references. It’s become a mainstay of pop culture to associate famous music stars with drug use.

220px-OzzyChangingHands02-20-2010For example, it’s quite common for people to associate Snoop Dogg and weed, Sid Vicious and heroin, Ozzy Osbourne and cocaine, or the Grateful Dead with everything. Many famous musicians have been caught in drug use scandals, were sent to rehab for excessive drug use, or even died due to drug overdoses. Did you ever wonder why so many musicians use drugs?

A very large part of it is because drugs are very, very prevalent in the music industry – that includes booze. Every major concert that is thrown has people who smoke pot or even use harder drugs. The music industry is a “party industry,” in the sense that people somewhat expect entertainment and upbeat emotions when they attend a performance. Drugs, in many cases, are used to enhance entertainment, or to enhance emotions in general.

Of course, there is also a link between many drugs and creativity. Marijuana has been medically proven to improve a person’s creativity when used regularly. There is also a very obvious link between hallucinogenics and other psychedelic drugs with a person’s ability to create unusual lyrics. Some of the most popular songs have been linked with drug use, such as “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, “Black Balloon” by the Goo Goo Dolls or “Reefer Man” by Cab Calloway.

Will the world of music ever let go of its drug influences? Most likely, drugs and music will always be interconnected with one another in some respect, even if our culture will change in the future. It’s just the way things always were, and always will continue to be.