Rather than trying to come up with some list of songs that may or may not have killed grunge, I'm going to shift gears and talk about another very exciting aspect of rock … The Deaths!
After perusing Wikipedia's notable rock deaths page, I started feeling quite ghoulish and almost cancelled this list. For every rock death with an element of mystery or shock, there were some that were just depressing. What a shocker, death being depressing. How will this list be any fun at all?
Ultimately, I'm basing this list on criteria of shock value, unique circumstances, questions still unanswered and lastly, I cut the performer if they were in a "soul" or "rap" act or something that wasn't very rock'n roll. Marvin Gaye being shot by his dad is so rock'n roll in theory, but I'd never list a Marvin Gaye song on a rock list. Michael Jackson wasn't shot by his dad, or Tito, Jermaine or Latoya for that matter, but as badass as "Billie Jean" may be, you can't really compare it to "Panama."
20. Layne Staley (Alice in Chain's Singer)
This is one of the more tragic ones on my list, but I included it because his body went undiscovered for several days. That's rock 'n roll. He loses points though, because if he died when Grunge was still popular in the early 1990s, Alice in Chains would be Janis Joplin to Kurt Cobain's Jimi Hendrix.
19. Leon Wilkeson (Some Dude From Lynyrd Skynyrd)
Okay, like me, many of you probably don't know who this guy is. I didn't, but get this. Leon Wilkeson died of natural causes at age 49! Do you know how hard you have to rock to die of natural causes at 49?
18. Brian Jones (Rolling Stones)
Some people die in a pool of their own vomit, some just die in an actual pool. If Brian Jones were still alive today, his popularity would be right up there with Mick and Keith. He was a big Stone. Where's ze sto-one?
17. Stevie Ray Vaughn
I remember he died touring with Eric Clapton in a helicopter accident. This was right before the age of the internet and the slower news cycle was unclear for a little while if Clapton himself had died (or maybe I was just unclear). I didn't know who Vaughn was then, and it turns out, was quite a phenomenal guitar player.
16. The Drummers – John Bonham and Keith Moon
A sign of the times when the great rock bands that killed it in the 70s had passed, was when these two guys died around the 70s 80s turn. Led Zeppelin and The Who … no more!
15. Jerry Garcia
Though this one should have had very little shock value, it happened right around my biggest of hippy times, so it became a big deal. I went to a candle vigil in the park in Downtown Hartford for crying out loud. You know how you never forget where you are when crazy things happen? Well, my "I heard Jerry Garcia just died story!" goes like this. I was interning for now impeached Connecticut Governor John Rowland when I had to meet with the head of some Department of Special Needs (or something to that extent). When I walked into his office, he was checking his phone messages, and one of his buddies left him the voice mail who seemed quite excited that Jerry Garcia just died (kind of like whichever friend of yours got to be the one to tell you Michael Jackson died). So there I am, sitting in the Capitol with a quadriplegic knowing one of my hippy heroes just died, and I can't react with any emotion whatsoever because they can't find out that all I'm thinking about is getting home, going to Fern Park with my friends, and loading up a bowl in honor of Jerry (though the guy probably knew this because I did have a pony tail at the time).
14. Dennis Wilson (A Beach Boy)
If you're a Beach Boy, and 90% of your songs are about surfing, and you die from drowning in a surfing accident, you know you're making my Best Death list.
13. Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols)
He was basically the first rock star stereotype death, a path that Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin laid before him.
12. Mama Cass
Death by Ham Sandwich is still probably one of the more amusing death stores. I love ham sandwiches though, so if it ever goes down the wrong pipe, I start panicking.
11. Duane Allman
Motorcycle accident. I guess that's not too unique, but he was an Allman Brother.
10. Elliott Smith
Stabbed in the chest twice. Damn. There are also theories it was a homicide rather than a suicide, but as someone who can't even begin to comprehend what it'd be like to stab myself in the chest once, I'm not going to offer any theories on the probabilities of being able to stab yourself in the chest twice.
9. The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash
Though it didn't claim the life of Lynyrd Skynyrd himself, it did kill the members that made up the heart of the band.
Who'd win in a fight? Lynyrd Skynyrd, or Pink Floyd?
8. Janis Joplin
You say that it's over baby
You say that it's over now
She was part of the Overdose Trifecta that for some reason I didn't include in my "Things That Killed the Hippy Movement!"
7. Buddy Holly, Richie Valens AND the Big Bopper
You knew rock'n roll was here to stay, when this plane crash happened. Sure it may have been tragic at the time and the lives of three wonderful entertainers were taken, but you wouldn't have rock without plane crashes, and this was only the beginning.
6. Kurt Cobain
In the early 1990s, it was a running bet between who'd whack themselves first between Cobain and Eddie Vedder. Cobain even penned a song called, "I Hate Myself and I Want to Die." So it wasn't shocking at all when the news came out of Kurt's death. The demise cemented Nirvana's legacy leaving them no chance to get old and make bad records (well, that is aside from anything the Foo Fighters did). Eddie Vedder on the other hand, started enjoying life more and Pearl Jam made said declining records, and surprisingly, there's still some intrigue when Pearl Jam releases a record now 20 years after that time. Who ended up better? I'll take the life and the shitty records.
5. Bob Marley
Okay, so Marley never rocked he just went boom chigga boom chigga, but if you think I'm not including someone who died because he never washed his feet, you obviously don't know me very well.
Was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me
Straight up racist, the sucka was simple and plain
Muthafuck him and John Wayne!
- Chuck D and Flavor Flav
3. Jimi Hendrix
Earlier we had Brian Jones dying in a pool, NOW we have Jimi Hendrix dying in a pool of his own vomit, or commonly referred to as a drug overdose.
2. Jim Morrison
If there was one grave site I ever wanted to visit, it was his at the Pere Lachaise. Also, I love the thought of Jim Morrison is alive rumors. If there's one rock star celebrity that'd definitely died from doing too many drugs, it was Morrison.
1. John Lennon
Shot by Republicans!!!!! More news at 11.