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Most Memorable Rock Singers Who Passed Away

Despite their tragic and untimely deaths, these rock and roll legends will be forever revered for the indelible marks they left on the music world as the most memorable rock singers who passed away.

By Corey GittlemanPublished 7 years ago 7 min read

Rock and roll legends have helped pave the way for modern day musicians. Whether it was their riffing guitars or booming drums, you cannot take away from the breathtaking vocals that come from the lead singer. Indeed, the lead singer is the voice of the band (both literally and figuratively), and the one who tells the story and helps to bring raw emotion into each and every song. Unfortunately, many of the most legendary vocalists from eras past have since moved on to their resting places. It is these rock and roll greats that we can thank for the classic songs that we still play today, and for the modern day music that stems from those who came before us. For those who have a passion for music, especially the rock and roll genre, these iconic figures and their iconic deaths will not be forgotten. Let's take a look at some of the most memorable rock singers who have passed away.

Buddy Holly

Coming to fame in the 1950s, the world was introduced to one of its first pioneers of rock and roll, Buddy Holly. It was the year 1957 that Holly had his first hit single "Peggy Sue", which rose to become the number three song on the top charts. This was a huge accomplishment, especially because the genre of music was still in its early stages. As one of the more tragic, freak accidents of a death, Buddy Holly was involved in a plane crash in the year 1959. As the three passenger plane took off in a snow storm, the winds were strong–too strong–and ultimately caused the plane to crash. Holly passed away far too young, at only 22 years of age. This music icon will be remembered for his grooving rock and roll style.

Jim Morrison

After forming The Doors with some fellow film students at UCLA in 1965, Jim Morrison and his group were a part of one of the most influential rock bands of this time. The ladies loved this long haired frontman with his bluesy vocals and lyrics about, well, the ladies. It did not take long for the band to get on tour and record fairly often. After completing their fourth studio album, they were living the typical 1960s rock and roll lifestyle of drugs and alcohol. Jim Morrison grew tired of constantly recording and touring, and decided to take some time off. He and his wife moved out to Paris, which turned out to be the last the public heard from Morrison. It was in Paris that he suffered from a drug-induced heart attack. This death is one of the more memorable ones of all time, due to the fact that we only were able to enjoy The Doors for such a short period of time–Morrison, tragically, was only 27 years of age when he passed.

Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington was the frontman for Linkin Park from 1996 until 2017. Unlike some of the other rock legends, he stayed at the top of his game for a long while, which allowed him to leave a major mark on music. From teenagers to adults, you can without a doubt say that you have listened to Linkin Park if you are of this era. From their softer spoken songs to their loud crowd pleasers, Bennington's lyrics and vocals have made an impact on many lives, encouraging people to persevere through the toughest of times. Only a month after Chris Cornell–another rock singer and a good friend of Bennington's–passed away suddenly, Chester Bennington hung himself at just 41 years old. Dealing with life after performing at Cornell's funeral was not easy for Bennington, so much so that he found himself no longer able to go on.

Elvis Presley

The King of Rock n Roll himself, Elvis Presley, was one of the most influential performers of all time. After first entering the music industry in 1954, it took only two more years for Elvis's career to take off, and it wasn't long before he became a sensation around the world. You could hear the influence of gospel, country, and pop music within his rock and roll music, but there was another aspect to him that helped his uprising in popularity. His big hair, soft eyes, and pelvis swinging performances are what truly got the ladies to go absolutely wild, due to the fact that no one else was really doing this at the time. At 42 years old, Elvis Presley was found dead in his Memphis, Tennessee home, known to this day as Graceland. Although The King is gone, his influence will live on forever.

Gregg Allman

The once long haired rocker, Gregg Allman, formed the Allman Brothers Band with two of his brothers and another friend in 1969. This Florida-based band truly stayed loyal to their southern routes, as their rocking rhythm guitar and Gregg's vocals stuck to the typical southern style, but without sounding too country. Gregg went through much tragedy in his life, with his brother passing away in a motorcycle accident, being diagnosed himself with hepatitis C, and later liver cancer–one of the effects of a life filled with drinking and partying. Given the damage inflicted on most of his organs, he had many health issues including an irregular heart beat, which caused him to cancel his tours. It was in 2017, at the age 69, that Allman, one of the most memorable rock singers, passed away from his fast spreading liver cancer, and was put out of his misery.

Chris Cornell

With one of the most interesting voices in rock and roll, Chris Cornell fronted multiple bands, such as Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, and most popularly, Soundgarden. His grungy vocals were perfect for those long, mysterious songs, as well as his ability to get a classic rock raspy scream. Not only was Cornell an amazing singer, but he was also a great father. He would bring his children on stage from a very young age to dance around, and as they grew older he would occasionally bring his daughter out to sing along with him. Despite some of his darker lyrics, one would never have expected to see Cornell die the way he did. It was in 2017 that he hung himself at the age of 52. Cornell, his vocals, and his music will be missed by all rockers and music lovers around the world.

Freddie Mercury

This incredibly talented man had one of the musically gifted voices of any rock and roll band. Whether it was his ridiculously wide vocal range or his entertaining live performances, there was never a dull moment when watching Mercury and the rest of his band, Queen, on stage. Another great aspect of this musician was his ability to play the piano as well as he did. It was his vocals, stage presence, and that mustache that made him so memorable. His performance on stage was nothing short of flamboyant, and he owned every second of it. It was at the age 42 when Freddie Mercury was proclaimed to have died from HIV/AIDS, and it was not an easy death for the world to get over, given the massive impact that he and Queen had left on the rock and roll scene.

John Lennon

Part of what is known to be one of the greatest rock groups of all time to come from the United Kingdom, John Lennon co-founded The Beatles. As one of the voices of the band, and their rhythm guitarist, Lennon was a part of something special in the music industry. The mop-headed foreigners took the country by storm, with both their trippy sounding songs and softer rock ballads. In one of the stranger deaths of beloved rock and roll singers, Lennon was assassinated in front of his apartment when he was stopping home to say goodnight to his child. He was shot five times, and hit with four of the bullets, taking this rock legend away from us way before his time, at only 40 years of age.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix made history as one of the first lead singers and guitarists to experiment with mixing fuzz, distortion, and feedback while playing and recording guitar. His overall skill was extremely mind blowing, especially because he never learned how to read or write music. Jimi would just play what he thought sounded good and felt right. The legend was so famous that several films have been made about him, including one called Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child, on Netflix. Yet another historical aspect of his musical career was his performance at the first Woodstock. That being said, Hendrix rose to fame in a very psychedelic time for music, which led to his involvement in drugs. It was in 1970 that he overdosed on barbiturates in his sleep. It was not your average overdose, though, it is said that he vomited in his sleep and choked to death due to the drugs. Jimi Hendrix changed the face of music with his guitar playing and bluesy voice.

Kurt Cobain

Although he is not an original classic rocker, Kurt Cobain changed the game when it comes to rock genres, and is definitely one of the most memorable rock singers who passed away. We were all accustomed to big hair, loud guitar solos, and fast paced overall music, but Cobain brought grunge and alternative rock music to a new light. Releasing angsty and angry songs is exactly what teens and young adults were looking for while growing up in changing times. With heavy distorted guitars and dark lyrics, his band Nirvana was an instant hit. It comes as no surprise that Cobain was not particularly happy with life, as evident in some of his lyrics. It was at the age 27 in 1994 when Kurt Cobain took his own life with a shotgun. He paved the way for a whole new sub-genre of rock and roll to come out of the 1990s, one that is still relevant today.


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Corey Gittleman

Interns do more than get coffee.

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    Corey GittlemanWritten by Corey Gittleman

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