Shocking. An epidemiological study of bands in the US and Europe showed that musicians do really die prematurely. Equally shocking: drugs and alcohol are involved.
A Liverpool John Moores University study of 1,050 US and European artists found they are twice as likely to die early than the rest of the population.
In all, 100 stars died between 1956 and 2005 with US stars dying at 42 on average and those from Europe at 35.
Drug and alcohol problems accounted for one in four deaths, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health said.
Lead researcher Professor Mark Bellis said: “Public health consideration needs to be given to preventing music icons promoting health-damaging behaviour among their emulators and fans.
“Stars could do more to actively promote positive health messages, but these need to be backed up by example.”
The paper will be published in the October issue of Journal Epidemiology and Community Health. The issue isn’t out, but here is the citation:
Elvis to Eminem: quantifying the price of fame through early mortality of European and North American rock and pop stars. Mark A Bellis, Tom Hennell, Clare Jane Lushey, Karen Hughes, Karen Tocque, John R Ashton. J Epidemiol Community Health 2007;61:896-901
I am not shocked at all, but I am also skeptical that anything can be done. I think a lot of people become musicians explicitly so they can do a lot of drugs, have promiscuous sex, and the like. I am sure that these people really do love music, but you can’t discount the rock star mystique.
Given the social pressure to behave in this manner and the benefits — over at least the short-term — for doing so, getting rock stars to not drink themselves into an early grave is going to be difficult.
On the other hand, it would help a lot if we didn’t adopt a different legal standard for celebrities with respect to drugs and alcohol. It would be a lot better if you are say driving drunk on wrong side of the freeway if our legal system didn’t respond with just amused indifference. The fact that you have repeatedly shown your crotch to the world should not be a mitigating factor in sentencing.
I don’t know if that would make a huge difference, but at least it is a start.