The PathGuy makes the case, with a large number of case studies of rock and pop stars who died at young ages. Unfortunately, there’s no systematic epidemiological study that I’m aware of about whether rock ‘n’ roll stars have a shorter life expectancy or higher rate of traumatic death or death due to disease. We could certainly postulate that certain aspects of the lifestyle of a rock ‘n’ roll star would be detrimental to health, such as polysubstance abuse, long months on the road (probably eating lots of fast food along the way), and sleep deprivation, but there’s no hard data that I’m aware of.

It seems like an area that’s crying out for sound research. Maybe then we could explain how Keith Richards has managed to survive past 60.


  1. #1 caseofthevapours
    November 25, 2006

    Here is Keef’s explanation:

    “The biggest myth about him, he [Richards] now posits, is probably that he was constantly endangering himself with drugs. “Actually, I would take drugs quite responsibly,” he says. “A nice fix at breakfast, one for elevenses, and another one at teatime – it was like breaks at the cricket, or something.”

  2. #2 Barry
    November 25, 2006

    “Maybe then we could explain how Keith Richards has managed to survive past 60.”

    Pickling. No bacterium, virus or fungus could survive in his system. Even cancer cells found that they couldn’t grow this fast. Fortunately, with modern silicone technology, flexible repairs are now possible; bondo just doesn’t look lifelike.

  3. #3 iain
    November 25, 2006

    I don’t know about rock stars, but it’s been said for some years that orchestral conductors are unusually long-lived. Explanations for this differ. One hypothesis is that they benefit (psychologically?) from being in control of the orchestra. Rock stars are often, by contrast, largely under the control of their record companies. Maybe Keef is doing better these days now that he and the rest of Charlie Watts’ band are so succesful as to be in charge of their own affairs.

  4. #4 Ethan Romero
    November 26, 2006

    Joint effects give one the data munchies.

  5. #5 Reinder
    November 26, 2006

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that cartoon animators are another group with exceptional longevity and long working lives. I put that down to most of them being ornery bastards who stay alive out of spite, meself.

  6. #6 Adam Cuerden
    November 27, 2006

    Oh my, er, hypothetical being, this is that fellow who turned the D&D Planescape game *into a Bible study!*

  7. #7 Mat
    November 27, 2006

    I saw one of these years ago on some Christian page or another, and my immediate thought was something to the tune of ‘What about newsworthiness?’

    I mean, if someone dies of a drug overdose within a year of the top ten single, then even if they’re the second back up bassist who only played in Duluth, it’s probably going to hit the news. But the lead singer of a band that had a one-hit wonder dying alone in bed might go unremarked on. Or, of course, people who become mostly famous for dying…don’t get me wrong, I may be one of the few people who love Mother Love Bone, but I think most people who know Andy Wood’s name, for instance, would probably know it because his tribute album/band was Temple of the Dog which had one of the first released songs with Eddie Vedder on the vocal track.

    Also, rock as he’s defining it really has only existed since the 60’s, and is the province of the young, so we’re probably talking about his oldest ‘large’ generation being people born in the 1940’s or so, currently in their 60’s, so basically only now reaching near the end of their threescore and ten.

    P.S. Do I take this too seriously? Hell, yes. But this reaction’s a lot better than the one I gave the one of these lists which listed Richey Edwards as one of the young deaths…

  8. #8 Leo
    January 20, 2007

    Overdose deaths can be intentional or unintentional, and they can result from both licit and illicit drug abuse. Drugs commonly implicated in overdose must be in public lists! WBR LeoP

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