These Are The Most Bizzare Deaths In Music History
Death and the music industry are two things that seemingly go hand in hand. Whether it’s a lifestyle of partying that finally catches up to them, or they take their own life, people in the music industry can seem more likely to die young than the general population. This leads fans to occasionally anticipate artists’ deaths even before they happen. But what about the freak accidents that took some of our favorite musicians away from us without any warning? From getting killed by a bay of hay to being electrocuted onstage, these are some of the most unusual deaths in music history.
Reminder: Don’t play with guns even if you think they aren’t loaded.
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Keif Relf was the lead singer and harmonica player for the British rock and roll group theYardbirds, the same band that launched the musical careers of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. After the original Yardbirds split up, Relf went on to start the group Renaissance with his sister Jane. He also had a brief solo career up until the accident that took his life. On May 14, 1976, Relf was playing an improperly grounded electric guitar in his basement recording studio when he stood on a gas pipe. This ended up sending an electrical current through him and killing him. Because his family was so private about his death, rumors circulated that he had been playing the guitar in the bathroom.
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Terry Kath was a founding member and lead guitarist of the band Chicago. Aside from playing the guitar, he played numerous other instruments and was known for his skill on the banjo, accordion, bass, and drums. He was also known to sing for Chicago on tracks such as “Colour My World” and “Make Me Smile”. Although he had a history of drug and alcohol addiction, that wasn’t what directly killed him. While at a crew member’s house on January 28, 1978, Kath was fooling around with guns, unloading them and then pointing them at his head and pulling the trigger. Unfortunately, when he did it with a 9mm it was loaded. He shot and killed himself on accident.
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Bobby Fuller was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and the leader of the 1960s rock group The Bobby Fuller Four. The band is best known for their hits such as “Love Made a Fool of You” and “I Fought the Law”. Fuller’s untimely death is still considered to be a bit of a mystery. In 1966, his body was found in his car outside of his Hollywood apartment with his face, chest, and side covered in petechiae hemorrhages believed to be caused by gasoline and summer heat. Originally, his death was assumed to be either an accident or suicide, but others believe that he was murdered. Bandmate Jim Reese believed that Charles Manson had something to do with it although no evidence was ever found.
Photo Credits: American Blues News
Johnny Ace was an American rhythm and blues singer. He rose to popularity in the 1950s and was named the Most Programmed Artist of 1954. However, he had a dangerous habit of playing with his .32-caliber revolver. Members of his band often said that he was known to shoot at street sign out of the window of their car or pull pranks on them. Then, on Chrismas day in 1954, Ace was playing with his gun. Thinking that it wasn’t loaded, he was jokingly pointing the gun at his band members and girlfriend. When they told him to stop, he said “there’s nothing in it”, pointed it at his head and fired. Turns out there was a bullet in the gun and he died instantly.
Mike Edwards had a crazy life and an even crazier death.
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Mike Edwards was a cellist who studied at the Royal Academy of Music before joining the Electric Light Orchestra in 1972. He played with them until 1975. After his time with the Electric Light Orchestra, he became a sannyasin for the philosophical discipline of Osho. From then on, he lived a simple life traveling around to Osho communes around the world until he eventually settled down in Devon, England. On September 3, 2010, Edwards was killed on the road near his home when a 1,300-pound bale of hay rolled down a hill and collided with his van, killing him.
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Brian Jones was a founding member of the legendary rock and roll group The Rolling Stones. He played a massive role in the band’s early success but felt that he was being isolated by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. His growing drug and alcohol addiction didn’t help either and he was eventually fired from the band in June of 1969. Then, on July 3, 1969, his body was found in his swimming pool. His death was ruled an accident and called “death by misadventure” with the cause most likely attributed to overconsumption of alcohol. Some believe that Jones was murdered, however, after an investigation in 2008 it seems unlikely.
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Randy California was the guitarist for the rock band Spirit, with his skill being recognized by other artists such as Walter Becker and Jimi Hendrix. Although it has been proven otherwise, California is also known as the person that his band Spirit claims to have originally written the opening chords of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” in Spirit’s song “Taurus.” However, he never lived to see the outcome of the case as he drowned in Molokai Hawaii on January 2, 1997, after he and his son were caught in a riptide. His son managed to survive but California wasn’t so lucky himself.
Up next: the crazy event that took Sam Cooke’s life.
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Sam Cooke was a soul music legend and released numerous classic hits such as “You Send Me”, “Wonderful World” and “A Change Is Gonna Come”. Cooke died on December 11, 1964, at the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles. He was only 33 years old. He had been shot by the motel manager who claimed that he had broken into her office residence wearing nothing but a sports coat and one shoe and proceeded to attack her. However, there were numerous sides to the story, all of which had inconsistencies. The murder was ruled as a justifiable homicide and the case was closed on Cook’s death.
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Michael Hutchence was an Australian singer and actor. He was a founding member and frontman for the band INXS, which won Best International Artists at the 1991 BRIT Awards. On November 22, 1997, his body was discovered strangled by his own belt in a Sydney, Australia hotel room. At first, the coroner believed it to be suicide since he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time, but a rumor began to spread that it was an accident due to autoerotic asphyxiation. The circumstances of his death don’t leave any clear evidence of what actually happened although most people believe it was an accident.
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Dennis Wilson was a singer, songwriter, and most notably, the drummer for the Beach Boys. In the years leading up to his unfortunate death, he had been battling with severe alcoholism. His drinking had caused a lot of issues in his life, and even left him essentially homeless for the month leading up to his death. During one of his drinking benders, he decided to dive into the Marina Del Ray in order to retrieve items that he threw off his yacht three years prior. He drowned in the process and it was assumed that he experienced shallow water blackout just before his death.
See which musician died from choking in a cocktail cherry.
Steve Peregrin Took
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Born Stephen Ross Porter, he changed his name to Steven Peregrin Took after one of the hobbits from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He became a popular musician after he and Marc Bolan came together and made the band Tyrannosaurus Rex in 1967. Eventually, Took’s drug use and desire to have more creative power led to the dissolution of the band. He then went on to perform in a series of smaller bands but never had much success. In a freak accident on October 27, 1980, he died from asphyxiation after choking on a cocktail cherry. Although he and his girlfriend had ingested mushrooms and morphine that night, they aren’t considered to be contributing factors to his death.
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Les Harvey performed as a guitarist in several Scottish bands over the years but was most well-known for his work in the band Stone the Crows. On May 3, 1972, while playing a show in Swansea, Wales, there were puddles on the stage. Harvey was electrocuted by a microphone that wasn’t properly grounded. A roadie attempted to unplug the device but it was too late. He died on stage in front of over 1,000 fans. Harvey was only 27 years old and the band broke up not long after the incident.
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Sandy Denny was an English singer-songwriter and lead singer of the folk-rock band Fairport Convention. She has been described as “the pre-eminent British folk rock singer” who played in multiple bands and had a successful solo career. She was also the only vocalist to ever appear on a Led Zeppelin album when she sang a duet on “The Battle For Evermore” on Led Zeppelin IV. After her husband had left with her daughter because of her issues with substance abuse, Denny died on April 21, 1978. This was a few weeks after she fell down a set of stairs and hit her head on the floor below.
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Randy Rhoads was a heavy metal guitarist who played alongside the likes of bands such as Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. As an original student of classical guitar, he eventually traded in his acoustic for an electric and is on many “Greatest Guitarist of All Time” lists. In 1982, he died after boarding a small plane piloted by his tour bus driver. They wanted to fly close to the tour van in order to scare the rest of the band on the bus. However, they ended up getting a little too close, clipping the back of the bus and crashing.
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Porcaro was a drummer, songwriter, and record producer, best known for being a founder of the rock band Toto. He was one of the most recorded session musicians in history, playing on hundreds of albums and thousands of sessions. He has been regarded as the best studio drummer in rock from the 1970s to the 1990s, and the majority of mainstream drumming in the 1980s was a direct mimic of Porcaro’s style. He died on August 5, 1992, after becoming ill from spraying insecticide in his yard. Coroners assumed that he died of a heart attack largely attributed to his cocaine abuse but this was disputed by his family and friends who insist he wasn’t like that and that he had a genetic heart condition.
Up next: This musician was killed onstage by a crazed fan.
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Dimebag Darrel was a heavy metal guitar player, songwriter, and co-founder of the band Pantera and Damageplan, along with his brother Vinnie Paul. His prowess on the guitar and the success of Pantera has labeled him as one of the driving forces behind groove metal. On December 8, 2004, a deranged fan at a Damageplan show rushed the stage and shot Darrell onstage in the head as he was playing. He also managed to shoot three other individuals at the venue. The shooter was an ex-Marine who was upset that Pantera had broken up the year prior and figured it was Darrell’s fault. He was shot and killed at the scene as well by a police officer.
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Elliot Smith was a singer, songwriter, and musician. Although a multi-instrumentalist, his primary instrument was a guitar and his very distinctive voice. He began a successful solo career in 1994 and has a cult following to this day. Throughout his life, he had trouble with alcohol and drugs as well as suffering from severe depression. In 2003, at the age of 34, his body was discovered in Los Angeles from two stab wounds in the chest. Although the autopsy evidence was inconclusive if the wounds were self-inflicted or note, for the most part, it is believed to have been a suicide.
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Charlie Hardin Holley, or better known as Buddy Holly, was a major musician in the mid-1950s rock and roll scene. After opening for Elvis Presley in 1955, he decided to pursue music, where his sound started off as a country band and eventually developed into rock and roll. Artists such as Bob Dylan, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and more have all mentioned him as one of their inspirations. On February 3, 1959, Holly and the rest of his bandmates died in a plane crash after their pilot took off in inclement weather without the proper instruments.
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Judge Dread was an English and ska reggae musician who was the first white man to ever have a hit song in Jamaica. Although he was popular in Jamaica regardless of his skin color, his songs were thought to be a little too lewd for the United Kingdom and many of them were banned. While performing a show in Canterbury, England on March 13, 1998, he collapsed onstage. While the crowd initially thought he was joking, it turned out that he was going into cardiac arrest. Finally, an off-duty doctor recognized the situation and tried to resuscitate him with no success. Dread died at the age of 55.
Photo Credits: The New York Times
Jerry Fuchs was a percussionist with some serious talent known for his music during the 2000s. When he first moved to New York City to join the band Vineland, he also ended up performing with other bands such as !!!, Turning Machine, LCD Soundsystem, and more. Fuchs met his end on November 8, 2009, when his elevator became stuck in the shaft of a Brooklyn loft. In an attempt to free himself, he broke out of the elevator and ended up falling down the elevator shaft five stories to his death.