If These Rock And Roll Legends Were Alive Today, They Might Look Like This

Karyn Bailey | May 13, 2024 6:15 pm

It isn't random that many musicians have died young in past decades, hence the term "party like a rockstar." While many groundbreaking artists have surpassed the test of time both in their music and longevity, we'll never know how life today would be different if lost musicians had survived all this time. Would Cobain have abandoned the industry he hated? Would Sid Viscious have gotten clean? We may not have a crystal ball, but we do have CGI. Now we can gaze at the faces of beloved musicians at the age they would have been today.

Presley Still Has His Lip Curl

A younger Elvis is compared to a gray haired, wrinklier version that still wears the same smirk
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No doubt the king would still be a charmer. Something about that combed back hair and lip curl just doesn't get old. Unfortunately, neither did the 20th-century icon, who died in his home at just 42-years-old.

Journalist Tony Scherman wrote that Elvis had become massively overweight and was "dulled by the pharmacopeia he daily ingested." His final performances were complete disasters as the artist struggled to talk, or didn't make it on stage at all. Like a vicious cycle, substances fueled a host of health issues, the issues fueled his drug problem, and back again.

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Lennon Looks Even More Brilliant

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A black and white photo of John Lennon is compared to a CGI version where he's older and without glasses
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Lennon's glasses can no longer be to blame for the intelligent look on his face. This CGI proves that it is, in fact, just his face. Though Lennon died at the start of the '80s, his widower Yoko Ono lives on as a performer and peace activist. It would have been amazing to see them together all these years later, especially besides Sean Lennon who could not be a more perfect aesthetic mix of the two.

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His rebellion and wit could have of even greater value in today's world, but he was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman, just hours after autographing a book for him.

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Joplin's Heartwarming Smile Lives On

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A black and white photo of Janis is compared to a CGI of her with grey-blonde hair and still smiling
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Joplin is one of the death at 27 crew, which has occurred way too often in the music industry. Though she may not have been the quintessential Hollywood starlet, her bright smile contrasted her soulful music so that her spirit captivated audiences.

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In this CGI, you can still sense the heartwarming effect Janice had, and would still have had today. Unfortunately, she died of a heroin overdose before she could ever see her fourth album be released. Decades after her death she recieved numerous accolades, which would have surmounted even more had she still been rocking today.

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Hendrix's Fro May Have Thinned A Bit

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Jimi Hendrix in a hat and '60s outfit is compared to a CGI of him with a thinning fro and solid clothes
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Hendrix's hallmark afro seems to have thinned a bit in this CGI photo, but he still has those soulful eyes. The added impression of a vein on his forehead makes the photo all the more realistic. While Hendrix would likely be dressed in a sleek and smooth jacket, the solid colors just don't do justice to Jimi's eccentric style.

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It's insane to think that Jimi was only a mainstream artist for four years, especially considering he would have been one for four decades had he made it to today as a musician. Hendrix died of asphyxiation, which may have been drug-induced, just before his 28th birthday.

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Morrison Looks Less Tormented

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Jim Morrison looks ponderous in youth while compared to an older, smiling CGI version
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Another 27-year-old death, Jim Morrison was an enigma to many. The Doors frontman was not only a musician but a gifted writer. Volume I of The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison was a New York Times Bestseller in 1988. Before substances made his performances more rampant, he would sometimes perform spontaneous spoken word poems onstage.

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This CGI photo suggests that if Jim had made it, he may have found some peace with his wild personality in later years. While artists are stereotyped as being tormented, sometimes wisdom and age can bring about lighter perspectives. Sadly, Jim's untimely heart failure prevents us from ever knowing how he would have matured as an adult.

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Cobain Still Would Look Young

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Kurt Cobain on stage is compared to a CGI that shows him barely aged
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Just when we thought the curse against 27-year-old musicians had faded with the 1980s, Kurt Cobain brought the dark tradition into the '90s. One of the most influential artists in alternative music, the singer was known to have struggled with fame and depression. Though he did suffer from heroin addiction, it was a self-inflicted wound that took his life in 1994.

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The CGI photograph reminds us of how young Kurt still would have been. 25 years later, Kurt would have nearly doubled in age and still be only about 50. For all we know, he could have been at his rocker prime, or somewhere far away where he could finally find solace from Hollywood.

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Bradley Nowell Would Still Likely Be Sunburned

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Someone holds two fingers up behind a young Nowell to give the impression of bunny ears, while a CGI depiction shows a wrinklier Nowell with the same grin
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Bradley Nowell's age and talent were similar to Kurt Cobain. The lead singer and guitarist of Sublime, he hit fame in the early '90s, as well. The Long Beach native fused his love for reggae and rock to write major ska hits that are still wildly popular today.

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This incredibly realistic CGI makes it seem as though Nowell never overdosed on heroin in 1996, at the age of 28. Had he not, Sublime With Rome wouldn't have formed as an alternative to its father band, Sublime. Nowell struggled with staying sober so that beer in his hand would probably be drink-free. Otherwise, the photo hits the mark.

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Tupac Looks Like The Cool Dad

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Tupac bears tattoos and saggy pants in his youth, while a CGI version shows him with a grey beard giving a thumbs up
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Yes, rappers are rockstars, too. In fact, Tupac Shakur was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Unfortunately, trouble followed the talented rapper. After growing up in Harlem in New York City, he moved to the West Coast where he ultimately was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1996.

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The 25-year-old never had the opportunity to have kids, but if he had he would have looked like the coolest dad ever. His 75 million sold records already have placed him as one of the best-selling music artists of all time. If he was still around today, who knows the popular rap songs he could have concocted.

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Ronnie van Zant's Golden Locks Look Great

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Ronnie van Zant poses for a black and white photo in his youth, while CGI shows an older Ronnie in a rocker outfit
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The lead singer of Lynard Skynard, Ronnie van Zant lead his two younger brothers in the trio's path to rockerville. Though Ronnie died before he ever saw the age of 30 in a plane crash, his younger brother has been able to uphold the position as headman of the band ever since.

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Ronnie is said to have held many aspirations growing up, and knew he would be the most famous person to come out of Jacksonville, Florida. Had he lived to become this CGI man with the blonde locks that are impossible to miss, he may have achievements that surpass the world of music altogether.

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Randy Rhoads Would Still Be Clinging To His Guitar

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Randy Rhoads on stage in his youth is beside a CGI version of him older but still playing an electric guitar
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If a rockstar dies young, two of the primary causes seem to be medicinal and planes. In Randy Rhoads's case, it was the latter. The guitarist was only 25 when a plane accident took his life. After Ozzy Osbourne left Black Sabbath, he was attracted to the heavy metal feel that Rhoads brought through his electric guitar and invited him on tour.

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The two were on tour together when the incident occurred. Ironically, Rhoads was afraid of flying and didn't intend on getting in the plane. Had he not, we might see him today still playing alongside the famous Ozzy.

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Bobby Darin Seems Classic As Ever

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Bobby Darin sports a tux in this CGI of him compared to his youthful headshot
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The line "Splish, splash, I was takin' a bath," is one of those jingles that is easily recognized, but how we know it is a mystery. That is the power of Darin's first hit from 1958. Funny enough, the line all started with a bet that Darin couldn't write a song that began with that line. It's a good thing he did.

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The song most recognizable by Darin is his rendition of the classic "Beyond the Sea," which really put him on the map. Unfortunately, he had a weak heart his entire life. Had he taken antibiotics before a dental visit, he may be that strapping gentleman in the bowtie, still singing the classics.

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Buddy Holly Looks Like A Professor

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Buddy Holly's youthful headshot is compared to him looking older and less put together via CGI
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Something about this CGI screams Dead Poet's Society. Someone with the experience of Buddy Holly probably would have made an excellent music professor. Buddy not only knew about music but knew about overcoming economic crises, having been born amongst the Great Depression.

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His musical family afforded Buddy the education he needed to be scouted in the early '50s. The star opened for Elvis and helped pioneer Rock and Roll. Long before he could see the height of his talent, he died at just 22-years-old in a plane crash. Most people only dream of becoming a legacy at 22.

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Sid Is Still Vicious Looking

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Sid Vicious winks at the camera while a CGI images shows his usually scrunched lips and spiky hair
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The CGI certainly got the face scrunch down in this depiction of a modern Sid Vicious. His punk band was known for the spunk clearly illustrated here, and that spunk probably would have been enough to last a lifetime.

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Unfortunately, Sid Vicious was one of the youngest big-time musicians to pass. He was barely the legal drinking age when he died from a heroin overdose. His reputation made it difficult for his family to arrange his funeral. It would have been interesting to see if he could have turned that reputation around for the better.

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Keith Moon Could Have Gotten Serious

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Keith Moon goofs off in his youth while a CGI gives him a straight face
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Keith Moon looks like a jokester in most of his photos. As fun-loving as the Who drummer seemed, he had self-destructive tendencies. His dark humor earned him the nickname "Moon the Loon" in the 1970s. Unfortunately, jokes weren't enough to overcome his substance addiction.

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Moon turned to a prescription drug to help fend off drinking withdrawals. He took 32 of them, and 6 were enough to kill him. The CGI image portrays a serious-looking Moon, which perhaps could have come of the incident had he survived the overdose.

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Dennis Wilson Probably Would Be Living On The Beach

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A young Dennis talks to a reporter beside a CGI of content Dennis in a Hawaiian shirt
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How Dennis Wilson went from being the most quintessential beach boy in his band The Beach Boys, to writing songs with Charles Manson is a mystery. The friendship may have had its impact on Wilson for the worst, as he struggled with heroin and other things. His brothers and bandmates encouraged the drummer to enter into rehab.

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Dennis jumped off his yacht in Marina Del Rey after a day of drinking, immediately after discharging himself from a hospital, and drowned to death. The surfer was buried in the sea off the California coast. A true beach boy at heart, he would be wearing a Hawaiian shirt if he were still around today.

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Karen Carpenter Hasn't Changed A Bit

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Karen Carpenter smiles for the camera in youth and as an older, CGI star
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Karen Carpenter's face is too vibrant and recognizable to miss. This CGI photo suggests that her glowing face and wide expression would have remained through the decades. Unfortunately, an eating disorder quite literally sucked the life out of her.

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After years of abusing her body with various substances to help her lose weight and avoid calories, the paramedics found her heart to be beating just one time every ten seconds. She died of heart failure after putting herself through the performance ringer. Determined to lose weight and tour, Karen nearly sang herself to death, putting off the treatment that otherwise could have saved her life.

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Cass Elliot Looks Content With Herself

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Cass Elliot models in black and white beside a CGI image of her older and still heavy, but smiling
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Known as Mama Cass, she was a member of The Mamas & The Papas throughout the '60s before she took to her solo career. In preparation for her solo debut at Ceasars Palace, the singer dropped 100 pounds through a crash diet that caused a stomach ulcer and throat problems.

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The plan backfired and she developed a violent fever that resulted in a poor performance that received horrible reviews. In this CGI photograph, Cass seems at peace with her weight. Had that been a reality, she may not have suffered from heart failure in her sleep at the young age of 32.

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Bon Scott Probably Would Still Look Like A Rock Star

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Bon Scott sings onstage alongside a CGI of Bon still looking very rocker
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Bon Scott's introduction into AC/DC was straight out of a Hollywood rock band flick. He watched the band play without a singer-- they were struggling with then frontman Dave Evans-- and was pressured by a friend to go up and sing. Finally, he did. The band saw that he was the right fit, and the rest was history.

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Hard-partying took Bon's life in 1980, just six years after joining the band. AC/DC still rocks audiences today, and Bon Scott would probably still be performing with them, looking like the rockstar image above.

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Duane Looks The Same

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Duane Allman is caught in a candid when young beside a CGI image of him playing guitar in headphones
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Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers Band was one of those musicians who was sought after regardless of his band. His skills as a musician earned him a spot accompanying stars such as Aretha Franklin and Herbie Mann while in his early 20s.

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With his soul and blues influences, he had a breadth of rock talent that could have gone far in the music industry, but he passed at just 24-years-old in a motorcycle accident that crushed his internal organs. The realistic CGI photo shows a Duane that hasn't changed a bit, aesthetically nor musically.

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Marley Looks Like The King Of The Jungle

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A headshot of young Marley with a straight face is beside a CGI Marley with graying, blonde dreads
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Bob Marley would have been an awesome candidate for the voice of Mufasa. He looks like a lion with those salt, pepper, and gold dreads. Plus, his voice would have made a killer soundtrack in the 2019 movie remake. Unfortunately, the spiritual musician died from skin cancer at just 36 years old.

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Today his son, Ziggy Marley, carries on his father's legacy (Simba?!) Bob's last words to his son were "Money can't buy life." Though his wisdom and music still impact today's culture, it would have been great to see what advice he would still be passing along.

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Biggie Smalls, Gone Too Soon

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Rapper Biggie Smalls, born Christopher George Latore Wallace, was a larger-than-life presence to his fans. Sadly, he died at the young age of 24 when a drive-by shooting took his life. The person responsible was never caught.

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If Biggie, AKA The Notorious B.I.G., had lived, this image gives us an idea of what he might look like today. He still looks pretty much the same, just with a couple of wrinkles.

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Frank Sinatra

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"My Way" crooner Frank Sinatra was one of the top-selling musicians of all time, and he also had a successful film career with roles in From Here to Eternity, The Manchurian Candidate, and The Man with the Golden Arm. He was also known for his love life and many romantic affairs with famous women.

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Sinatra passed away in Los Angeles on May 14, 1998. Also known as Ol' Blue Eyes, the legend's final words were "I'm losing it," before experiencing a heart attack. The city of Las Vegas, where Sinatra frequently performed, paid tribute by dimming the lights on the strip for a minute.

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James Brown

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The famed singer, songwriter, and "Godfather of Soul" is popularly credited with inventing funk music. James Brown got his start as a gospel singer in Georgia. With songs like "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," and "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud," Brown earned himself a place on Rolling Stone's "100 greatest artists of all time" list.

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Brown was very ill from pneumonia and passed away due to congestive heart failure on Christmas Day in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006. He stuttered, "I'm going away tonight," as his final words. He was 73 years old.

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John Lennon

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We've already seen what John Lennon might look like today. John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono were returning to their apartment in Manhattan when Lennon was shot in the back by Mark David Chapman. He staggered up to the reception saying, "I'm shot. I'm shot," before collapsing to the floor. He was announced dead on arrival at the hospital on December 8, 1980, at the age of 40.

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Ono and then-mayor Ed Koch designed a memorial for Lennon, in the form of a public section of Central Park called Strawberry Fields, where fans can gather to grieve and share their music and memories. The Dakota, the apartment where Lennon and Oko had lived and the site of his assassination, is visible from Strawberry Fields.

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Whitney Houston

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The super-star diva behind "I Will Always Love You" unfortunately passed due to an accidental drowning due to drug use on February 11, 2012, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. The 48-year-old singer was in town for the 2012 Grammy Awards and to attend producer Clive Davis' annual Grammy party. Houston was said to have declared, "I'm gonna go see Jesus, I want to see Jesus," to her friends in her final days.

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Sadly, Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina died in an eerily similar way. Bobbi Kristina was discovered unresponsive in a bathtub nearly three years to the day that her mother was found. She remained in a coma for months before dying. She was just 22.

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Michael Jackson

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This legendary pop star got his start as part of a family act singing and dancing with his siblings, who performed as The Jackson Five. He later became one of the most successful, and controversial, recording artists of modern times. Jackson's album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time.

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News of Jackson’s death shocked the world on June 25, 2009. The cause of Jackson's death was reportedly a voluntary homicide at his Los Angeles home. He is rumored to have said, "More milk," referencing the anesthetic propofol, on which he overdosed at age 50. He left behind three children.

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Elvis Presley

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Elvis Presley, the legendary "King of Rock and Roll," is still one of the most recognizable faces and voices of modern times. His energetic music and provocative dance moves quickly brought him fame after he debuted "Heartbreak Hotel," his first single, in 1956.

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There is speculation over the cause of death for Presley, who reportedly passed due to causes such as an enlarged heart and heavy drug usage. He supposedly said, "I'm going to the bathroom to read," to his then-fiancée, Ginger Alden, who later found him unresponsive on the bathroom floor. He was pronounced dead on August 16, 1977 at the age of 42 in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Amy Winehouse

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Amy Winehouse was famed for her deep vocals and her talents in soul, R&B, and jazz. Despite her immense talent, she was known for her troubled persona and problems with drug and alcohol abuse. In the months preceding her death, she was thought to have sought recovery treatment and was pictured in public looking healthier than she had in the past.

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Amy died in her sleep on July 23, 2011, of acute alcohol poisoning. She is claimed to have said "I don't want to die," over the phone before passing. Her bodyguard discovered her unresponsive, and paramedics were unable to revive the tragic soul. She was 27 years old.

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Buddy Rich

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Famed American jazz drummer Bernard "Buddy" Rich toured throughout most of his career, with such luminary musicians as Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and Harry James. During his lifetime, Rich earned the title "the world's greatest drummer." He was known for having a short temper, which the Beastie Boys referenced in their 1994 song "Sabotage": "I'm Buddy Rich when I fly off the handle."

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After having surgery on a malignant brain tumor, Buddy Rich passed due to heart failure on April 2, 1987. Before the procedure, a nurse who was prepping Rich for surgery asked him, "Is there anything you can't take?" His response: "Yeah, country music." He was 69.

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David Bowie

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On January 10, 2016, the music world was stunned by the news that the iconic songwriter, singer, and artist David Bowie had died at age 69. Bowie had hidden his cancer from the public for months. He left behind a mind-boggling body of work that continues to inspire others, even after his death.

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At the 2016 Brit Awards, Bowie's longtime friend Gary Oldman revealed some of the musician's last words about his life: "Music has given me over 40 years of extraordinary experiences. I can’t say that life’s pains or more tragic episodes have been diminished because of it, but it has allowed me so many moments of companionship when I have been lonely and sublime means of communications when I have wanted to touch people.”

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Prince

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US singer Prince performs on October 11, 2009 at the Grand Palais in Paris.
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Legendary "Purple Rain" singer Prince Rogers Nelson, simply known as Prince, was one of the best-selling musicians in history. Rolling Stone has called him "the most influential artists of the rock & roll era."

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Prince had to postpone some of his performances in early 2016 due to "influenza." Although he was still feeling ill, he rescheduled and performed what would be his final concert, where he said to the audience, "Wait a few days before you waste any prayers." Several days later on April 21st, he passed away in his hometown of Chanhassen, Minnesota at the age of 57.

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"Dimebag" Darrell Abbott

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Darrell Abbott, also known as "Dimebag" Darrell, was a co-founder, guitarist, and songwriter for the bands Pantera and Damageplan. He and his brother Vinnie Paul played together in both acts, with Paul on drums. The two were musically influenced by the band KISS, with Abbott stating in one interview that "if there were no Ace Frehley (KISS guitarist), there would have been no Dimebag Darrell."

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While performing in Columbus, Ohio with Damageplan, Abbott was shot three times in the head in a fatal shooting by an angry fan. Before being killed onstage, the guitarist is rumored to have uttered, "Van Halen." Abbott died on December 8, 2004 at 38 years old.

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Leonard Cohen

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Leonard Cohen, the brilliant poet and songwriter, passed away on November 10, 2016. Cohen, a Canadian, was considered a Renaissance man by his peers. His last album, entitled "You Want It Darker," was released on 21 October 2016. Cohen died just weeks after the album's release date.

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Cohen’s longtime muse, Marianne Ihlen, died in July 2016, months before he passed. When she was dying of leukemia, Cohen wrote her a touching farewell letter. It read in part, “But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

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Barry White

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The Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Barry White was known for his baritone voice on his many soul, funk, and disco songs. With mega hits like "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" and "You're the First, the Last, My Everything," White racked up 106 gold albums and 14 platinum albums during his esteemed career.

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For most of White's adult life, he was overweight and struggled with many health problems. In 2003, he suffered a stroke and just months after passed away at the age of 58 in Los Angeles. Supposedly, his final words were, "Leave me alone. I'm fine."

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Luciano Pavarotti

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Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti was one of the most commercially successful and popular in his field of work. One of the "Three Tenors," a trio of singers including himself, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras, Pavarotti was also known for his extensive charity work.

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Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006, a battle he lost a year later on September 6, 2007, at his home in Italy. His last words were reportedly, "I believe that a life lived for music is an existence spent wonderfully, and this is what I've dedicated my life to." His funeral was broadcast live on CNN.

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Heavy D

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Born in Jamaica, Dwight Errington Myers made a name for himself in America as 90s hip-hop phenom Heavy D. In 1989 he performed in Janet Jackson's hit song "Alright," which was one of the first mainstream pop songs ever to feature rap. He also appeared in Michael Jackson’s “Jam” in 1992.

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Heavy D performed at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards, his first live televised performance in 15 years, which sadly would turn out to be his last. His last public tweet was, "BE INSPIRED!" On November 8th of that year, he collapsed outside of his Beverly Hills home, passing at the young age of 44.

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Johnny Ace

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John Marshall Alexander Jr. was better known as the American rhythm-and-blues singer names Johnny Ace. His very first recording, 1952's "My Song," shot to the top of the R & B chart. Ace’s debut ballad was followed by many other hits, including "Please Forgive Me," "The Clock," "Cross My Heart," and “Never Let Me Go.”

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Ace had been drinking when he died of an accidental gunshot wound to the head on Christmas Day of 1854 in Houston at the young age of 25. His final words were, "I'll show you that it won't shoot." He was buried in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Josephine Baker

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The famous dancer, singer, and actress was also known as the "Black Pearl" and the "Jazz Queen." Born in the United States, Baker moved to France and eventually renounced her U.S. citizenship. She stunned the world with her sensational and provocative performances and costumes.

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On April 12, 1975 at age 68, Baker passed away in Paris after falling into a coma from a cerebral hemorrhage. The night before, she had attended a party in her honor after performing in a retrospective revue. As she left the party, she is known to have said, "Oh, you young people act like old men. You are no fun."

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Bo Diddley

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Born Ellas Otha Bates, Bo Diddley was an American blues legend famous for his singing and guitar skills. He is credited with helping to start the rock and roll genre, and he influenced many of today's most popular artists, including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and the Beatles.

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On the eve June 2, 2008 at his home in Florida, 35 family members surrounded Diddley on his deathbed. They were gathered around singing "Walk Around Heaven," and when the song was finished, he responded with a thumbs-up, saying "Wow." Bo Diddley’s very last words were reportedly, "I'm going to heaven."

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Bessie Smith

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The "Empress of the Blues" crooned into popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bessie Smith is widely considered to have influenced the jazz genre. In 1923, she was signed by Columbia Records, and soon was the highest earning black entertainer of her time.

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Smith passed away on the morning of September 26, 1937, in Mississippi after suffering multiple injuries from a car accident. Her lover, Richard Morgan, was driving the vehicle and escaped injury. Smith reportedly said, "I'm going, but I'm going in the name of the Lord" before she died. She was only 43.

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Ludwig van Beethoven

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This legendary composer and pianist from Germany is known as one of the most influential musical figures in all of history. In his brief but incredibly prolific career, Beethoven penned 32 piano sonatas, nine full symphonies, 16 string quartets, a mass, an opera, and more. Incredibly, he was almost deaf for the last years of his life.

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Bedridden in his final months, Beethoven died on March 25, 1827, at the age of 56 in Vienna. The cause was liver damage. His last known statement to gathered loved ones was this: "Friends applaud, the comedy is over."

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Johannes Brahms

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The nineteenth-century German pianist and composer Johannes Brahms is considered by music historians to be one of the "Three Bs," referring to a group that also counts Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach as esteemed members. Brahms wrote for and played piano, and also composed for chorus, symphony orchestra, voice, and organ. One of his most famous works was "Hungarian Dance No. 1."

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Brahms developed cancer of the liver in his final years, and was diagnosed in 1896. Taking a sip of wine on his deathbed, he said, "Yes, that tastes nice!" before he died on April 3, 1897, at age 63 in Vienna.