Many of music’s greatest talents were cut short when they died in their musical prime.
James Douglas "Jim" Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) was an American singer-songwriter and poet, best remembered as the lead singer of The Doors. From a young age, Morrison became infatuated with the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Rimbaud, Jack Kerouac, and William Blake, often incorporating their work into his lyrics.
The official story is that Jim Morrison died at the age of 27 years old in the early morning hours of July 3, 1971, in his bathtub at his apartment in Paris with his girlfriend Pamela Courson. The Doors’ manager, Bill Siddons, flew in from L.A. but did not see his body. Why not? The only people who apparently did were a few emergency medical personnel and Dr. Max Vassile, who is now deceased. He never gave any interviews only saying that Morrison died of "natural causes" specifically of heart failure which is why there was no autopsy.
2014 Did this man kill Jim Morrison? Marianne Faithfull claims her drug dealer ex-boyfriend supplied 60s rock idol with lethal batch of heroin
Legendary lead singer was found dead in bath of Paris flat in 1971 aged 27. Mystery has long surrounded death, which was put down to ‘natural causes’. Now singer Marianne Faithfull says Jean de Breteuil sold him heroin.
She says the drugs were ‘too strong’ and may have led to an overdose. De Bruteuil himself died of an overdose later the same year in Morocco.
Marianne Faithfull has revealed her drug-dealing ex-boyfriend ‘killed’ legendary rockstar Jim Morrison by giving him heroin which was too strong.
Mystery has long surrounded the death of The Doors lead singer after he suddenly collapsed and died in his Paris apartment in 1971.
More than 40 years on, singer Faithfull has claimed that her then-partner – a drug dealer called Jean de Breteuil – supplied Morrison with drugs which led to an overdose.
In an interview with MOJO magazine, she said of de Breteuil: ‘He went to see Jim Morrison and killed him.
An autopsy was never carried out on his body and the official French death certificate solely states he died of ‘natural causes’.
Faithfull, who was 24 at the time and was battling her own drug problems, said she had stayed away from the flat where Morrison lived and had taken some ‘downers’.
She added: ‘I could intuitively feel trouble. I thought, I’ll take a few Tuinal and I won’t be there.’
De Bruteuil himself died of an overdose later the same year in Morocco.
Morrison is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions. The grave had no official marker until French officials placed a shield over it, which was stolen in 1973. Initially, the grave was unmarked, and listed in the cemetery directory with Morrison’s name incorrectly rearranged as "Douglas James Morrison."
In 1981, Croatian sculptor Mladen Mikulin voluntarily placed a bust of his own design and a new gravestone with Morrison’s name at the grave to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death; the bust was defaced through the years by cemetery vandals and later stolen in 1988.
Mikulin made another bust of Morrison in 1989, and a bronze portrait of him in 2001; neither piece is at the gravesite. In the early 1990s Morrison’s father George Stephen Morrison, after consulting with E. Nicholas Genovese, Professor of Classics and Humanities, San Diego State University, placed a flat stone on the grave.
(Gene Vincent) Vincent Eugene Craddock (February 11, 1935 – October 12, 1971), known as Gene Vincent, was an American musician who pioneered the styles of rock and roll and rockabilly. His 1956 top ten hit with his Blue Caps, "Be-Bop-A-Lula", is considered a significant early example of rockabilly. He is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Vincent died on October 12, 1971 from a ruptured stomach ulcer while visiting his father in California, and is interred in the Eternal Valley Memorial Park, Newhall, California.
He was the first inductee into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame upon its formation in 1997. The following year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Vincent has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1749 N. Vine Street. In 2012, his band, the Blue Caps, would be retroactively inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by a special committee, alongside Vincent.
(Gram Parsons) Cecil Ingram Connor III (November 5, 1946 – September 19, 1973), known professionally as Gram Parsons, was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist. Parsons is best known for his work within the country music genre; he also popularized what he called "Cosmic American Music", a hybrid of country, rhythm and blues, soul, folk, and rock. Besides recording as a solo artist, he also worked in several notable bands, including the International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
His relatively short career is described by AllMusic as "enormously influential" for both country and rock, "blending the two genres to the point that they became indistinguishable from each other."
In the late 1960s, Parsons became enamored with Joshua Tree National Monument (now Joshua Tree National Park) in southeastern California. After splitting from Burrell, Parsons would frequently spend his weekends in the area with Margaret Fisher and Phil Kaufman. Parsons was scheduled to begin another tour in October 1973. Parsons decided to go on one more excursion before this tour. Accompanying him were Fisher, personal assistant Michael Martin, and Dale McElroy, Martin’s girlfriend.
Less than two days after arriving, Parsons was discovered unresponsive in his bedroom. Attempts to revive him failed and death was officially pronounced at 12:15 am on September 19, 1973 at Hi-Desert Memorial Hospital.
Parsons was 26 years old at the time of his death and the official cause of death was an overdose of morphine and alcohol. According to Fisher in the 2005 biography Grievous Angel: An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons, the amount of morphine consumed by Parsons would be lethal to three regular users and thus he had likely overestimated his tolerance considering his experience with opiates. Fisher and McElroy were returned to Los Angeles by Kaufman, who dispersed the remnants of Parsons’ stash in the desert.
Parsons’ body disappeared from the Los Angeles International Airport where it was being readied to be shipped to Louisiana for burial. Before his death, Parsons stated that he wanted his body cremated at Joshua Tree and his ashes spread over Cap Rock, a prominent natural feature there; however, Parsons’ stepfather organized a private ceremony back in New Orleans and neglected to invite any of his friends from the music industry. Two accounts state that Bob Parsons stood to inherit Gram’s share of his grandfather’s estate if he could prove that Gram was a resident of Louisiana, explaining his eagerness to have him buried there.
To fulfill Parsons’ funeral wishes, Kaufman and a friend stole his body from the airport and in a borrowed hearse drove it to Joshua Tree. Upon reaching the Cap Rock section of the park, they attempted to cremate Parsons’ corpse by pouring five gallons of gasoline into the open coffin and throwing a lit match inside. What resulted was an enormous fireball. The police gave chase but, as one account puts it, "were encumbered by sobriety," and the men escaped.
The two were arrested several days later. Since there was no law against stealing a dead body, they were only fined $750 for stealing the coffin and were not prosecuted for leaving 35 pounds (16 kg) of his charred remains in the desert. Parsons’s body was eventually buried in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Metairie, Louisiana.
The site of Parsons’ cremation was marked by a small concrete slab and was presided over by a large rock flake known to rock climbers as The Gram Parsons Memorial Hand Traverse. The slab has since been removed by the U.S. National Park Service, and relocated to the Joshua Tree Inn.
There is no monument at Cap Rock noting Parsons’ cremation at the site. Joshua Tree park guides are given the option to tell the story of Parsons’ cremation during tours, but there is no mention of the act in official maps or brochures.
Fans regularly assemble simple rock structures and writings on the rock, which the park service sand blasts to remove from time to time.
Peter William Ham (27 April 1947 – 24 April 1975) was a Welsh singer, songwriter and guitarist, primarily recognized for having been the lead singer/composer of the ’70s rock group Badfinger’s hit songs, "No Matter What", "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue." He also co-wrote the ballad "Without You", a worldwide Number One hit for Harry Nilsson and it has become a standard song as covered by hundreds of artists consistently throughout the years since. Ham was granted two Ivor Novello Awards related to the song in 1973.
During the Warner Bros. Records era from 1973–75, Badfinger became embroiled in many internal, financial, and managerial problems and their music was stifled. By 1975, with no income and the band’s business manager uncommunicative, Ham became despondent and he hanged himself in the garage of his Surrey home.
Ham was aged 27 at the time; his suicide fell just three days shy of his 28th birthday. He left behind a pregnant girlfriend, who gave birth to their daughter one month after his death. His suicide note had the statement, "I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better." It also included an accusatory blast toward Badfinger’s business manager, Stan Polley: "P.S. Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me." News of Ham’s death was not widely disseminated at the time, as no public comment was made by The Beatles, Apple Corps Ltd, or Warner Bros. Records.
Paul Francis Kossoff (14 September 1950 – 19 March 1976) was an English rock guitarist best known as a member of the band Free.
Kossoff was ranked 51st in Rolling Stone magazine list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
Kossoff’s unhappiness with the end of Free and his drug addictions contributed to a drastic decline in the guitarist’s health. On a flight from Los Angeles to New York on 19 March 1976, Kossoff died from heroin-related heart problems. The day before, he had a jam session with keyboard player Dennis Provisor. He was cremated and interred at the Golders Green Crematorium. His epitaph reads "All Right Now".
Keith Relf (22 March 1943 – 14 May 1976) was a musician best known as the lead singer and harmonica player of The Yardbirds.
In 1966, he married April Liversidge. They had two sons, Danny and Jason.
Relf was 33 when he died from electrocution, at his home, while playing his improperly earthed (i.e., grounded) guitar. At the time, Relf was rehearsing new material for the regrouping of the original Renaissance line-up, called Illusion.
Terry Alan Kath (January 31, 1946 – January 23, 1978) was an American musician and songwriter, best known as the original guitarist, co-lead singer and founding member of the rock band Chicago. He has been praised by the band and critics for his guitar skills and Ray Charles-influenced vocal style.
Kath reportedly had a self-admitted history of drug abuse, including alcohol. Seraphine knew that Kath had a high tolerance for drugs, but later recalled Kath telling him "I’m going to get things under control … if I don’t, this stuff is going to kill me".
Chicago bandmates have indicated that he was also increasingly unhappy. However, Guercio has said that Kath was working on a solo album before he died, and Pankow adamantly denies that Kath was in any way suicidal.
By 1978, Kath was regularly carrying guns around, and enjoyed playing with them. Around 5 p.m., on January 23, after a party at roadie and band technician Don Johnson’s home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, Kath took an unloaded .38 revolver and put it to his head, pulling the trigger several times on the empty chambers.
Johnson had warned Kath several times to be careful. Kath then picked up a semi-automatic 9 mm pistol and, leaning back in a chair, said to Johnson, "Don’t worry about it … look, the clip’s not even in it".
To assuage Johnson’s concerns, Kath showed the empty magazine to Johnson. Kath then replaced the magazine in the gun, put the gun to his temple, and pulled the trigger.
However, there was a round in the chamber, and Kath died instantly, one week short of his 32nd birthday.
Kath left a widow, Camelia Emily Ortiz (whom he had married in 1974 and who would later marry actor Kiefer Sutherland), and a daughter, Michelle. He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
The group were devastated over losing Kath and strongly considered disbanding, but were persuaded by Doc Severinsen, musical director of the Tonight Show band, that they should continue. Kath’s position as guitarist in Chicago was subsequently filled by Donnie Dacus.
Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American rock band best known for popularizing the southern hard-rock genre during the 1970s. Originally formed in 1966 as the The Pretty Ones in Jacksonville, Florida, they then went through two name changes: The Noble Five and One Percent, before coming up with Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.
The band rose to worldwide recognition on the basis of its driving live performances and signature tunes "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird". At the peak of their success, three members died in an airplane crash in 1977, putting an abrupt end to the band’s most popular incarnation.
Following a performance at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, South Carolina, on October 20, 1977 the band boarded a chartered Convair CV-300 to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where they were scheduled to appear at LSU the following night. Due to a faulty engine, the airplane ran low on fuel and the pilots were diverted to the McComb-Pike County Airport. After running out of fuel they attempted an emergency landing before crashing in a heavily forested area five miles northeast of Gillsburg, Mississippi.
Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray were killed on impact; the other band members (Collins, Rossington, Wilkeson, Powell, Pyle, and Hawkins), tour manager Ron Eckerman, and road crew suffered serious injuries.
The accident came just three days after the release of Street Survivors. Following the crash and the ensuing press, Street Survivors became the band’s second platinum album and reached No. 5 on the U.S. album chart. The single "What’s Your Name" reached No. 13 on the single airplay charts in January 1978. The original cover sleeve for Street Survivors had featured a photograph of the band, particularly Steve Gaines, engulfed in flames.
Out of respect for the deceased (and at the request of Teresa Gaines, Steve’s widow), MCA Records withdrew the original cover and replaced it with a similar image of the band against a simple black background. Thirty years later, for the deluxe CD version of Street Survivors, the original "flames" cover was restored.
Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded after the tragedy, reuniting just once to perform an instrumental version of "Free Bird" at Charlie Daniels’ Volunteer Jam V in January 1979. Collins, Rossington, Powell and Pyle performed the song with Charlie Daniels and members of his band. Leon Wilkeson, who was still undergoing physical therapy for his badly broken left arm, was in attendance, along with Judy Van Zant, Teresa Gaines, JoJo Billingsley and Leslie Hawkins.