With the passing of Eagle desperado Glenn Frey, Star-man David Bowie and Motörhead’s Lemmy, it seems that approaching 70 is the new threshold for the deaths of rock stars.
In the past members of the 27 club comprising (founder member) Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, and Amy Winehouse have attracted notoriety for their early passing. Although said to be a statistical anomaly rock stars in the 25-29 age group are still 25 times more likely to die than the national average.
Even the older guys are still twice as likely to die than the general population as their career-long excesses catch up with them. 83% of musicians don’t make it to the biblical three-score and ten (compared to 20% of the general population who go on to live for another 20 years on average).
It’s all about their lifestyles. Bowie for example was said to have taken enough cocaine to kill a horse and was a heavy smoker for most of his life. Lemmy was a keen user of amphetamines and drank a bottle of JD every day until he switched to vodka and orange, a healthier drink! Frey blamed his problems on early heavy use of drugs and alcohol. These few typify the risks of cancer, drug overdoses and alcohol problems that kill most rock musicians.
If you don’t do drugs and abstain from smoking and alcohol you should also avoid small aeroplanes as Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Rick Nelson, and John Denver discovered to their cost. Car crashes took lives too, Eddie Cochran and Marc Bolan for example.
One thing I always worried abut back in the day was dodgy electrics in clubs and with good reason. Several musicians have lost their lives by being electrocuted including Keith Relf of the Yardbirds in a recording studio.
One band which seems to have defied the statistics is the Rolling Stones (founder Brian Jones excepted) with Sir Mick, Keef and Charlie all going strong, as well as two of the Beatles and half of the Who (Keith Moon and John Entwistle both dying from drug-related causes).
If you want to live long and prosper then play the blues or folk music. BB King dies last year aged 89 and Pete Seeger, who died in 2014, lived to be 94.