For 15 Rock Stars: The Duration Between Last Song and Last Rites

Several late rock stars died within days of their final encore

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It’s all so sad when rock stars die, but it’s particularly creepy when they die so soon after they last performed live. Here now are the brief stories of how many famous rock artists died and how many days it was before their swan-song concert:

105 Days. Keith Moon (The Who). Keith Moon was on certain meds to curb his alcoholism but nowhere on the prescription bottle of Heminevrin did it say to take 32 of them at a time. That even seems like a lot of Tic Tacs. Long story short, the drugs constricted his esophagus, which prevented him vomiting and him from living past the age of 32. (Video below of one of Moon’s final shows)

80 Days. John Bonham (Led Zeppelin). John Bonham had battled alcoholism for years, but his final bender was too much for any human to handle. Shortly before Led Zeppelin were scheduled to begin a tour of North America—and months after what would be Zeppelin’s final show in Berlin—one fateful night in England the 32-year-old drummer binged on some 40 shots of vodka over a 24-hour period, went to sleep and never awoke. (Video below of Bonham performing “Moby Dick” on Zeppelin’s final U.S. tour)

56 Days. Michael Hutchence (INXS). Suicide or autoerotic asphyxiation? We’ll never know what truly caused Michael Hutchence’s death on November 22, 1997 in Sydney, Australia. What we do know is the final song he performed with INXS—in Burgettstown, PA—was “Suicide Blonde.” (Below is audio only of INXS performing “Don’t Change” at, allegedly, the Burgettstown concert)

35 Days. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana). This could have easily been two days, had Cobain not survived a Rome OD of champagne and Rohypnol on March 3—two days after Nirvana’s final show in Munich, Germany. Instead the clearly suicidal singer managed another month and change on this planet before he took his own life in his Seattle home. (Below is video of what would be Kurt Cobain’s final performance)

35 Days. Amy Winehouse. You needn’t be prescient to predict an early demise for soul-jazz singer Amy Winehouse. He final shows were certifiable train wrecks, especially her last in Serbia where the clearly trashed singer slurred every lyric she could remember and was booed off stage. A little more than a month later, her demons had the last laugh. (Below is amateur footage from Amy Winehouse’s final show)

17 Days. Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead). For the last few years of Lemmy’s life, the iconic Motorhead frontman was dogged by health issues, but the assumption was if a steady diet of Jack and Cokes can’t kill him then nothing will. Sadly, that wasn’t true. Only two-and-a-half weeks after performing a 16-song set in Berlin, Lemmy passed after a short bout with cancer. (Below is amateur footage from Motorhead’s final concert)

16 Days. Ian Curtis (Joy Division). Would Joy Division have been more or less popular had frontman Ian Curtis not hung himself just weeks after their final gig in Birmingham, England? Only 23, Curtis never got a chance to play the States or enjoy any of the success his bandmates did in the Joy Division offshoot New Order. (Below is footage of Joy Division performing about eight months before Curtis’s death)

12 Days. Jimi Hendrix. A lethal combination of barbiturates and sleeping pills were to blame for Jimi Hendrix’s death in London on September 18, 1970, just 12 days after he performed a 13-song set in Fehmarn, Germany. We’re detecting a Germany theme. (Below is audio only of Hendrix’s premature farewell)

9 Days. Bon Scott (AC/DC). AC/DC played a three-song set on an Aplauso TV show in Madrid (later documented AC/DC’s Family Jewels DVD set); his final song was “Highway to Hell. Nine days later he was dead, having choked on vomit after a night of binge drinking. Perhaps most amazing was it only 131 days after Scott’s death that they performed their next show, this time with new singer Brian Johnson singing “Highway to Hell.” (Below is video of Bon Scott’s final song)

7 Days. Prince. Prince performed not one, but two concerts exactly one week before he passed away at age 57. Both performances at Atlanta’s Fox Theater combined equaled 40 songs, including a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Shortly after the second performance, a plane Prince was a passenger in was forced to make an emergency landing in Moline, Ill., and was carried off the plane unconscious. He seemed better in the days that followed, but on April 21, 2016, his recovery proved short-lived. His life, too. (Below is brief video from his final concert in Atlanta)

3 Days. Jeff Buckley. For Jeff Buckley fans, Barristers’ Bar is practically synonymous with the late singer/guitarist. His final 14 shows were at that club, including his last just three days before he was swallowed by the Mississippi River during a late-night swim. The final song he performed: “Last Goodbye.” (Below is video of Buckley performing “Last Goodbye” two-and-a-half years before his death)

2 Days. Scott Weiland. Cynics had expected Scott Weiland’s premature death years ago, although the erstwhile Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman somehow endured. Though his second wife claimed he was clean, he was anything but two days after he and his band the Wildabouts played the Adelaide Music Hall in Toronto. He was found dead on his tour bus in Bloomington, Minnesota and a lethal mix of Xanax, Buprenorphine, Ziprasidone, Viagra and sleeping pills was to blame. (Below is Weiland his band, The Wildabouts, performing STP’s “Vasoline” at his final show)

1 Day. Stevie Ray Vaughan. On August 26, 1990 Stevie Ray Vaughan—with help from Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and Jimmie Vaughan—encored with “Sweet Home Chicago,” an ode to the city he was headed for after his show in East Troy, Wisconsin—but one in which he’d never arrive. The helicopter he was a passenger on crashed into a nearby hill; he and four others, including the pilot, died on impact. (Below is audio only of Vaughan’s final show)

1 Day. Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon). Shannon Hoon’s last morning on earth included downing a smoothie, a 45-minute phone call with an astrologer (you gotta wonder what she told him) and a whole lot of cocaine. The “No Rain” singer was found dead on the band’s tour bus by a sound engineer who only wanted to shepherd him to soundcheck. He died but a few blocks from where the band recorded its (then) final album, Soup. (Below is Blind Melon’s entire show at Chicago’s Metro, one month before Hoon’s death)

0 Days. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden):  Not long after Soundgarden performed to a sold-out house at Detroit’s Fox Theatre, frontman 52-year-old Chris Cornell was found dead on the bathroom floor of his hotel bathroom at the MGM Grand . Early reports suggest it may have been suicide. Just an hour or so earlier, Soundgarden had completed a 19-song set, that included Soundgarden classics like “Spoonman,” “Jesus Chris Pose” and “Fell on Black Days.” The show closed with Badmotorfinger song “Slaves and Bulldozers” which, fatalistically, featured portions of the Led Zeppelin song “In My Time of Dying.”

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