Gone Too Soon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Written by Michael Oshust

Let's look back at the promising and legendary talent that tragically left us in shock and gone too soon.

These artists influenced many other artists and had made a statement with their music.

Some passed away at the age of 27 (the infamous '27 Club' that was originally made up of musicians),

others later on after a long career.

Drug overdose and intoxication are significant causes of accidental death, and can also be used as a form of suicide. Death can occur from overdosing on a combination of alcohol and drugs or multiple drugs, or from combined drug intoxication (CDI).



John Lennon is world-renowned as one of the Fab Four, as a member of The Beatles. Born in Liverpool, John Lennon became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager. In 1957, he formed his first band, the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. 

John Lennon emerged from his five-year absence in music in October 1980, when he released the single "(Just Like) Starting Over." The following month saw the release of Double Fantasy, which contained songs written during a June 1980 journey to Bermuda. The album showed Lennon's new-found stable family life.

Sadly, Double Fantasy was jointly released by Lennon and Ono very shortly before his death on December 8, 1980.

After a session at the Record Plant in New York, John Lennon and Yoko Ono returned to their Manhattan apartment at around 10:50 pm.

As they both walked through the archway of the building, John Lennon was shot four times in the back at close range. John Lennon was rushed in a police cruiser to the emergency room of Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:00 p.m. at the age of 40.




Leonard Cohen was a singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. He was world-renowned. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality and romantic relationships.

Cohen stated in 2004 that his depression had lifted in recent years, which he attributed to Zen Buddhism.

Cohen died on November 7, 2016, at the age of 82 at his home in Los Angeles; leukemia was a contributing cause.


Prince was a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, actor and filmmaker.


A natural multi-instrumentalist, he was considered a guitar virtuoso and was also skilled at playing the drums, percussion, bass, keyboards, and synthesizer. 


On April 21, 2016 emergency responders found Prince unresponsive in an elevator and performed CPR.

The coroner concluded that the cause of death was an accidental  overdose of fentanyl.



Ray Charles Robinson was a singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer.

At an early age, Ray Charles further developed his musical talent at school and was taught to play classical music by J.S. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

In his early career, he modelled himself on Nat King Cole. After signing with Swing Time Records, he recorded two more R&B hits under the name Ray Charles: "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" (1951), which reached No. 5, and "Kissa Me Baby" (1952), which reached No. 8. Swing Time folded the following year, and Ahmet Ertegun signed him to Atlantic Records.

In 2003, Charles had successful hip replacement surgery and was planning to go back on tour, until he began suffering from other ailments.

On June 10, 2004, at the age of 73, Ray Charles Robinson passed away at his home in Beverly Hills, California of complications resulting from liver failure.

His funeral took place on June 18, 2004, at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles with numerous musical figures in attendance including B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Wynton Marsalis and more.

Ray Charles possessed one of the most recognizable voices in American music. His style and success in the genres of rhythm and blues and jazz had an influence on a number of highly successful artists including Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, and Billy Joel.




Michael Hutchence was the lead singer and co-founder of INXS.


In August 1982, Hutchence hit his head after an altercation with a taxi driver. This injury led to periods of depression and increased levels of aggression. 


Hutchence and INXS went on a world tour to support the April 1997 release of "Elegantly Wasted." 


On November 22, 1997, Hutchence, aged 37, was found dead in his hotel room in Sydney. 


The coroner ruled that the cause of death was suicide while depressed and under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. An analysis report of Hutchence's blood indicated the presence of alcohol, cocaine, Prozac and prescription drugs.




David Bowie is known for dramatic musical transformations. He was a musical chameleon for his ever-changing appearance and sound. His voice was distinct. 

Born in Brixton, South London, Bowie developed an interest in music as a child, eventually studying art, music, and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963.

He was a leading figure in the music industry and is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, acclaimed by critics and musicians, particularly for his innovative work during the 1970s. 

During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at 140 million albums worldwide, made him one of the world's best-selling music artists. In the UK, he was awarded ten platinum album certifications, eleven gold, and eight silver, and released eleven number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and nine gold certifications. David Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

On 10 January 2016, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of the album Blackstar, Bowie died from liver cancer in his New York City apartment. 




Dolores O'Riordan had such a lilting mezzo-soprano voice.

In May 2017 she publicly discussed her bipolar disorder, which she said had been diagnosed two years earlier.


On January 15, 2018, Dolores O'Riordan was found unresponsive in a London hotel room.

The coroner concluded that the cause was accidental drowning in a bathtub, following sedation by alcohol intoxication.



Kurt Cobain is remembered as one of the most influential rock musicians. 


Cobain had struggled with addiction and depression due to the unexpected breakout success of "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

Just days after checking out of a drug rehab center in LA, the legendary frontman for the band Nirvana was found dead on April 8, 1994, at the age of 27. The coroner found a high concentration of heroin and traces of diazepam in his body.



Freddie Mercury is regarded as one of the greatest lead singers in the history of rock music, he was known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range.

Mercury was noted for his live performances, which were often delivered to stadium audiences around the world. He displayed a highly theatrical style that often evoked a great deal of participation from the crowd.

During his career, Mercury's flamboyant stage performances sometimes led journalists to allude to his sexuality. 

At the 1990 Brit Awards held at the Dominion Theatre, London, on 18 February, Mercury made his final appearance on stage when he joined the rest of Queen to collect the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Filmed in May 1991, the music video for "These Are the Days of Our Lives" features a very thin Mercury in his final scenes in front of the camera. After the conclusion of his work with Queen in June 1991, Mercury retired to his home in Kensington, west London. On 22 November 1991, Mercury called Queen's manager Jim Beach to his home to prepare a public statement, which read -


"Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease. My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this

policy will continue."


On the evening of 24 November 1991, about 24 hours after issuing the statement, Mercury died at the age of 45 at his home.



Riley B. King was best known as B.B. King, Philanthropist, legendary blues artist, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

King sang in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. At age 12 he got his first guitar. In 1941 while on break at a plantation, King listened to a radio show featuring the Mississippi Delta blues. A self-taught guitarist, he then wanted to become a radio musician.


Ike Turner introduced King to the Bihari brothers while he was a talent scout at Modern Records. In 1949, King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records, a subsidiary of Modern.


King's recording contract was followed by tours across the United States, with performances in major theatres in cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and St. Louis


On October 3, 2014, after completing his live performance at the House of Blues in Chicago, a doctor diagnosed B.B. King with dehydration, exhaustion, and health problems caused by complications from high blood pressure and diabetes. The eight remaining shows of his ongoing tour had to be cancelled. King did not reschedule the shows, and the House of Blues show would prove to be the last before his death in 2015.

Riley B. King passed in his sleep on May 14, 2015, at the age of 89, caused by vascular dementia, caused by a series of small strokes as a consequence of his type 2 diabetes.

On May 27, 2015, King's body was flown to Memphis. A funeral procession went down Beale Street, with a brass band marching in front of the hearse, playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" with thousands lining the streets to pay their last respects.



Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou was known to the world as George Michael during the '80s as a member of Wham.

Over his career, George Michael has sold over 80 million records worldwide making him one of the best selling artists of all time. He has achieved seven number one songs in the UK and eight number one songs in the US.

George Michael won two Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, four MTV Video Awards, and six Ivor Novello Awards. In 2004, the Radio Academy named George Michael the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.

In the early hours of 25 December 2016, Michael died in bed at his home in Goring-on-Thames. In March 2017, a senior coroner in Oxfordshire attributed Michael's death to a dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and a fatty liver.



Randy Rhoads was known as the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot.

Randy Rhoads came from a musical family and provided guitar lessons at his mother's Music school.

Randy Rhoads last show was on March 18, 1982 at the Knoxville Colesium. The next day, the band was heading to a festival in Orlando, Florida.

Randall William Rhoads was killed in a plane crash on March 19, 1982.





Tom Petty was best known as the legendary frontman of the band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He also enjoyed success as a solo artist with such hit songs as 'Free Fallin'' and 'Runnin' Down a Dream.' 


Petty also collaborated with other legendary rockers, including Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Johnny Cash, earning three Grammy Awards for his work over the years.

Petty was part of the Traveling Wilburys, whose 1988 self-titled album reached No. 3 on the charts, went triple-platinum and won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance.

Tom Petty started his first band in 1976 known as the Epics. One of his first guitar teachers was Don Felder, a fellow Gainesville resident.

Petty was found unconscious at his home, not breathing and in cardiac arrest, early on October 2, 2017.



Chris Cornell is considered one of the chief architects of the '90s grunge movement and is well known for his extensive catalog as a songwriter, his nearly four-octave vocal range, and his powerful vocal belting technique. 


Chris Cornell struggled with depression for much of his life and he had multiple addictions (mostly alcohol and prescription drugs).


On May 18, 2017, Cornell was found unconscious by his bodyguard in the bathroom of his hotel room. He was lying on the floor with an exercise band around his neck and blood in his mouth. The coroner confirmed that the manner of death was suicide by hanging, adding his injuries were all "consistent with hanging, partially suspended by the resistance exercise band," and that "drugs did not contribute" to the cause of death.



Ronnie Van Zandt was the lead vocalist, primary lyricist, and founding member of

Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The band's national exposure began in 1973 with the release of their debut album, Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd, that included "I Ain't the One", "Tuesday's Gone," "Gimme Three Steps", "Simple Man" and what became their signature, "Free Bird."

On October 20, 1977, Ronnie Van Zant’s bandmates were anxious as they prepared to board their leased plane at Greenville, South Carolina’s Downtown Airport heading to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The plane ran out of fuel outside Gillsburg, Mississippi. 


Van Zant died on impact from head injuries suffered after the aircraft struck a tree. Bandmates Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines, along with assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray, were also killed. 




Michael Jackson was the "King of Pop" and is widely regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest entertainers of all time. 


On June 25, 2009, Jackson suffered cardiac arrest and died.

The coroner concluded that Michael had taken propofol, lorazepam, & midazolam; his death was caused by acute propofol intoxication.



Whitney Houston had a voice that could make anybody's jaw drop in awe. She scored three No. 1 singles on her debut album. In 1992, Houston starred in The Bodyguard with her remake of "I Will Always Love You."


Unfortunately her personal struggles continued and on February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston was found unconscious in the bathtub with the cause of death ruled as drowning and cocaine use. 



When you think of the world's greatest drummers, a handful of greats come to mind, Keith Moon, John Bonham, Buddy Rich, Neil Peart, and Ginger Baker. 

Every drummer has a signature that makes them unique to the audience. For example, The Police sound the way they do because of Stewart Copeland's use of space, subtlety, and aggression. He's undoubtedly the primary drummer least interested in playing the snare, and his signature parts involve intricate hi-hat patterns. When anyone thinks of Neil Peart, they think of progressive rock. What Neil Peart is known for is his precise and meticulously plotted percussion anyone has ever heard or seen.


On January 22, 2015, Rush officially announced the Rush R40 Tour, celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Peart's membership in the band. The tour started on May 8 and wrapped up on August 1, 2015, in Los Angeles. On December 7, 2015, Neil Peart stated in an interview that he was retiring. Neil Peart had been suffering from chronic tendinitis and shoulder problems. In January 2018, Alex Lifeson confirmed that Rush is "basically done."

Neil Peart passed away from an aggressive form of brain cancer, on January 7, 2020, in Santa Monica, California. 






John Bonham was a musician and songwriter, known as the drummer in Led Zeppelin. He is regarded by many as the greatest and most influential rock drummer in history.

His drum solo, first entitled "Pat's Delight", later "Moby Dick", often lasted 20 minutes in concert.

On September 24, 1980, while at breakfast, Bonham drank four quadruple vodka screwdrivers. Bonham continued to drink heavily after arriving at rehearsals early afternoon. The band stopped rehearsing late in the evening and then went to Jimmy Page's house. After midnight on September 25, Bonham fell asleep and someone took him to bed and placed him on his side. The tour manager and John Paul Jones found him unresponsive the next afternoon. 

The coroner stated that Bonham had consumed around 1.4 litres of 40% vodka, after which he vomited and choked (a condition known as pulmonary aspiration). The finding was declared accidental death.

Led Zeppelin released a statement on December 4, 1980, indicating their intention to disband.

"We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."



Stevie Ray Vaughan began playing guitar at age seven, initially inspired by his elder brother Jimmie. In 1972, he dropped out of high school and moved to Austin, Texas, where he began to have a following after playing gigs on the local club circuit.


While Vaughan played at the Montreux Jazz Festival, David Bowie made note to followup with Vaughan. Bowie called Vaughan and invited him to participate in a recording session for his next studio album "Let's Dance."




James Douglas Morrison was a songwriter, poet, and a singer with a widely recognized voice.

Early in his life Morrison was a voracious reader and was particularly inspired by the writings of several philosophers and poets. He attended UCLA and got his undergraduate degree at UCLA's film school within the Theater Arts department of the College of Fine Arts.


In the summer of 1965, after graduating with a bachelor's degree, Morrison co-founded the Doors with Ray Manzarek.

By the release of their second album, Strange Days, the Doors had become one of the most popular rock bands in the United States.

The band organized a makeshift recording studio at their private rehearsal space, the Doors' Workshop, a two-story building at 8512 Santa Monica Boulevard to begin recording L.A. Woman.

After recording L.A. Woman in Los Angeles, Morrison joined Pamela Courson in Paris in March 1971 at her apartment. In letters, he described going for long walks through the city, alone.

In the early hours of July 3, 1971, at age 27, Jim Morrison died in the bathtub of the apartment

The official cause of death was listed as heart failure, as no autopsy was performed, as it was not required by French law.

Jim Morrison's death came two years to the day after the death of Rolling Stone guitarist Brian Jones, and approximately nine months after the deaths of Jimi Hendrix (September 18, 1970) and Janis Joplin (October 4, 1970).


Ronnie James Dio helped pioneer hard rock in the '80s.  

In 1975 Ronnie James Dio's vocals caught the ear of Richie Blackmore. Rainbow was originally established with members of Dio's rock band Elf. Rainbow recorded three studio albums with Ronnie James Dio before he joined Black Sabbath, who was looking for a singer after Ozzy Osbourne was fired. In 1980, Black Sabbath released Heaven and Hell followed by Mob Rules in 1981. Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice formed Dio in 1982. In 2009, Ronnie James Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer. His last show with heaven & Hell was on August 29, 2009, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Ronnie James Dio passed away from stomach cancer on May 16, 2010, at the age of 67. 



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