July 3 will mark the 40th anniversary of the death of Jim Morrison, lead singer and frontman of the Doors. Morrison was known for his poetic lyrics and his controversial live performances, which made the band iconic during the 1960s. This week, The List looks at other noted figures from the world of rock who, like Morrison, were too young to die, often leaving us before reaching their 40th birthday.
- Jim Morrison — Morrison was found dead at the age of 27 in his bathtub by longtime partner Pamela Courson at their apartment in Paris on July 3, 1971. Although no autopsy was performed, he was listed as having died because of heart failure thought to be from a drug overdose.
- Janis Joplin — The American singer and songwriter, who sang at the famed Woodstock Festival, experimented with a variety of drugs and drank heavily throughout her life. She died on Oct. 4, 1970, at age 27 as a result of heroin overdose and alcohol consumption.
- Jimi Hendrix — Considered by some to be the greatest electric guitarist in the history of rock music, Hendrix was well-known for his use of psychedelic drugs. His drug-drenched life caught up with him when he died Sept. 18, 1970, at the age of 27 in London from respiratory arrest caused by alcohol and drugs.
- Keith Moon — Known for his exuberant and innovative drumming style, Moon was the drummer for the English band the Who. His self-destructive behavior earned him the nickname "Moon the Loon." He died Sept. 7, 1978, at the age of 32 after accidentally taking an overdose of pills to alleviate his alcohol-withdrawal symptoms.
- Kurt Cobain — The lead singer and guitarist of the grunge band Nirvana was just 27 when he died of a self-inflicted gunshot in April 15, 1994. Since its debut, Nirvana, with Cobain as a songwriter, sold more than 25 million albums in the U.S. alone and more than 50 million worldwide.
- Andy Gibb — The younger brother of the three members of the Bee Gees died at 30 from a heart condition on March 10, 1988. Gibb, who co-hosted TV's "Solid Gold" in 1981 and 1982, had six hit records in the late 1970s, notably "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" in 1977, "Shadow Dancing" and "An Everlasting Love" in 1978 and "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away" in 1979.
- John Bonham — Widely considered one of the world's best drummers of all time, the Led Zeppelin band member died at 32 on Sept. 25, 1980. At the coroner's inquest, it was revealed that in the 24 hours before he died, Bonham had consumed forty shots of vodka.
- Brian Jones — The Rolling Stones guitarist was found floating in his swimming pool following a binge of drugs and drinking July 3, 1969. Later, a number of books claimed the 27-year-old Jones was murdered a month after he split with the band.
- Marc Bolan — The lead singer of the British "glam rock" band T-Rex was killed instantly when his Mini 1275GT, driven by American singer Gloria Jones, crashed into a tree in the Barnes area of London on Sept. 16, 1977. The 29-year-old Bolan had a string of hits in the United Kingdom, including "Hot Love" and "Get It On." His funeral was attended by David Bowie and Rod Stewart.
- Selena — Known as the Madonna of Mexican-American teenagers, Selena (Quintanilla Perez) was gunned down by the former president of her fan club March 31, 1995. The Grammy-winning singer was 23.
- Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper — Holly and fellow rock 'n' rollers Valens and J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson were booked to perform in Fargo, N.D., on Feb. 3, 1959, but their plane crashed in a snowstorm, killing all three musicians and their pilot. Holly was 22 at his death; Valens, known for the hit "La Bamba," was 17; and Richardson, famed for his song "Chantilly Lace," was 28. Holly, who wrote the hits songs "Peggy Sue," "Not Fade Away" and "It's So Easy," was immortalized in Don McLean's 1972 pop song "American Pie."
- Sam Cooke — Known for hits including "You Send Me," "Chain Gang" and "Wonderful World," Cooke was fatally shot by the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles at the age of 33 on Dec. 11, 1964.
- Phil Ochs — The American folk singer who wrote such protest songs as "There but for Fortune," "The War Is Over" and the patriotic song "Power and the Glory" hanged himself in his sister's bathroom in New York City at age 35 on April 9, 1976.
- John Lennon — The former Beatle was gunned down by Mark David Chapman, 25, on Dec. 8, 1980, in New York City. Lennon, who had marked his 40th birthday just two months before, helped make the British band mates worldwide superstars and pop-culture legends in the 1960s.
- Johnny Ace — The American rhythm-and-blues singer scored a string of hit singles in the mid-1950s before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot in a game of Russian roulette at age 25 on Dec. 25, 1954. Paul Simon referenced the singer in his song "The Late Great Johnny Ace," which he performed during the Simon & Garfunkel reunion concert in Central Park in September 1981.
- Tupac Shakur — The American rapper was a victim of the violent life of the "gangsta" rap culture he glorified in his lyrics. He was shot four times in Las Vegas on Sept. 7, 1996, and died six days later at age 25. His death occurred when his fourth solo album, "All Eyez on Me," remained on the charts, with 5 million copies sold.
- Cass Elliot — The Baltimore native was a member of the Mamas & the Papas pop group before going solo. After two weeks of sold-out performances at the Palladium, Elliot was found dead in her room in London on July 29, 1974, from an apparent heart attack. She was 32. Four years later, The Who's drummer Keith Moon died in the same flat at the same age.
Compiled by John Haydon
Sources: The Washington Times, Associated Press and Wikipedia.