Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers

Written by nick redfern
Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
Rock till you (very soon) drop (Frank Micelotta/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

In some instances, it was pretty much on the cards. In others, it was totally shocking and out of the blue. For a few, it was a case of maybe one day, maybe not. What are we talking about? Those legendary, wild rockers who burned out all too tragically, but who left behind them some great memories, iconic imagery and, of course, a cool body of fantastic songs that have entertained and inspired millions of captivated listeners. They are our top 10 "live fast, die young" stars of the dicey and hazardous world of the music industry.

Destined for an early end?

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
Gone but not forgotten (Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Not many people were overly surprised when, on July 23, 2011, Amy Winehouse died after a brief, yet incredibly successful, period in which she ruled the airwaves. A tremendously gifted singer, Amy also had a voracious appetite for self-destruction. Booze, heroin and crack-cocaine were all temptations that led to the downfall of the incredible voice behind Frank; Back to Black; and Lioness. The sultry singer, who took the very best parts of Blues, Jazz and R&B and made them her own, was found dead at 27 in her Camden, London home. The cause: alcohol intoxication. Amy's gone. Her music soars.

From anarchy to death

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
Vicious no longer (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

In 1977, thanks to their blistering attack on the British monarchy - God Save the Queen - the Sex Pistols became Public Enemy Number One. The London punks were on a wild ride fueled by controversy, outrage and a fine collection of punk anthems. One of them failed to survive that ride: bassist Sid Vicious. Sid looked the part with his spiky black hair, sneer and leather-jacket. But, he couldn't handle drugs. On February 2, 1979, and in the wake of his arrest for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, ex-stripper Nancy Spungen, 21-year-old Sid died from a heroin overdose.

Nevermind? But we do mind

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
Grunge and the grave (Frank Micelotta/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

It was the fact that Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was a tortured-yet-gifted character that led so many disaffected teenagers, all across the planet, to become such devoted fans of the Grunge Rock band that, as the 1990s began, marked the end of the Glam Rock-era of the previous decade. But, while for some rockers the themes of rebellion, depression and a loathing of the world are nothing but cynical ploys to sell their product, not so for Kurt. He really was a man on the edge. On April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain blew his brains out in his Seattle home.

A haze of greatness

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
A guitar genius (Oli Scarff/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

A man for who the term "Guitar Hero" was surely created, Jimi Hendrix, in practically single-handed fashion, reinvented guitar-playing in the late 1960s and through to the advent of the 1970s. Check out Purple Haze, Voodoo Chile, and All Along the Watchtower as evidence. Jimi didn't so much play his guitar as he gave it life. Sounds, tones, textures and electrifying distortion of the likes that had never been heard before amazed rock fans everywhere. Jimi's light did not last long, however. He choked on his own vomit, in London, in September 1970. The guitar god was not even 30.

Riding on the storm

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
A door closes (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Exuding a cool vibe of the type that Mick Jagger cultivated in the early-to-mid-1960s, Jim Morrison - singer with the Doors - was the ultimate wild, decadent, live for today rocker who went by his rules and his alone. It all worked very well for the long-haired, leather-wearing front man. But it couldn't last forever. It never does. By 1971, partying had made the once lithe and athletic Jim bloated, tired and fast running out of time. Shockingly, he even grew a beard. The clock sadly stopped on July 3, 1971 for the man known as the Lizard King.

Rolling no longer

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
Stoned until the end (Chris Jackson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

A founding-member of the most famous rock and roll band on the planet - the Rolling Stones - Brian Jones was the mop-topped, cool-dressing guitarist that the girls loved and the lads wanted to be. A highly-gifted musician, Brian quickly fell into a life of what began as great, decadent fun, but which eventually became dominated by fading health, drug-related problems, and a marked decline in his musical output and originality. He was found dead in the swimming-pool of his Sussex home on July 3, 1969. Some claim murder, others say accident. Either way, it was the end for Brian.

Crashing to earth

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
When time ran out (Gaye Gerard/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

It's not always drugs, booze and wild times that take our rockers early. Sometimes, it's just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Certainly, this is typified by the death of rock and roll legend, Buddy Holly, on February 3, 1959. Only hours earlier, with fellow rockers, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, Holly performed at the Clear Lake, Iowa-based Surf Ballroom. It was the last performance for all three. They met violent ends when the plane in which they were traveling crashed shortly after take-off - the result of a pummelling snow-storm.

On a collision course

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
Meeting death head-on (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Marc Bolan was the charismatic, flowing-haired lead-singer who was the brains behind T-Rex and who will forever be associated with such 1970s hits as Ride a White Swan, Get it On, and Metal Guru. Marc almost made it to 30. But not quite. He died a fortnight before hitting that big milestone. What he did hit, with singer Gloria Jones at the wheel of a Mini, was a tree in Barnes, London. Chillingly, Bolan never drove, always fearing death in an accident. Whether prophecy or a tragic, random event, Bolan's passing marked the end of an era in British music.

INXS to excess

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
Suicide in Sydney (Getty Images/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)

Coming across like a 1980s/1990s version of the Doors' Jim Morrison, Sydney, Australia-born Michael Hutchence spent much of the late 1980s and early 1990s ruling the airwaves with his band INXS and churning out such monster-sized hits as Need You Tonight, New Sensation, and Devil Inside. In 1997, it all came to a crashing end. With drugs and alcohol flowing around his body, and depressed by circumstances surrounding his relationship with now-also-dead TV personality Paula Yates, Hutchence took his own life in a room at Sydney's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. It was a sad and lonely end for the elegantly wasted one.

Suicide vs. a new start

Top 10 "live fast, die young" rockers
RIP? Maybe... (Stuart Wilson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

It was in the early-1990s that Welsh-rockers the Manic Street Preachers became the next big thing. But not all of them could stand the heat. Richie Edwards, who held his guitar cool and low, entertained the crowd and made the girls scream. Richie, however, was plagued by eating-disorders. He also had a history of cutting himself. When, in February 1995, Richie's car was found near the Severn Bridge but with no sign of the man himself, word was that it was suicide or an ingenious way to start a new life under a new identity. The jury is still out.

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