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5 Rock Stars Who Should Have Died A Long Time Ago

Updated on May 22, 2011

Why Aren't They Dead Yet?

We all know the rock music cliché: Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n Roll. Some artists have lived fast and died young, like Janis Joplan, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Sid Vicious, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain.

This lens is about those musicians who took that credo a step further, and continue to amaze us with the fact that they are still alive.

1. Keith Richards

He snorted his grandfather for Christ's-sake!

Five trials on drugs charges, with only one resulting in a prison sentence. Not only does he have the constitution of an elephant, but he must have a very damn good lawyer. Multiple stints in treatment for heroin addiction, charges of posession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking - in laymans terms, having a shit-load of heroin, far more than most normal junkies use. He is the grand-daddy of all junkies and drunks, so bizarre that Johnny Depp based his Jack Sparrow drunk pirate character from Pirates of the Caribbean on him. Which then led to Keith being case as Sparrow's dad. Which explains why Sparrow's character was so fucked up and at an utter loss when "all the rum was gone."

2. Shane MacGowan

Lead Singer of the Pogues. Often performs drunk. Has teeth only a meth-addict could love. Started drinking at the age of four, had his first whiskey when he was ten, and never, ever stopped. In September 2002, he vomited on fans in the front row of a Pogues concert. Not exactly the kind of souveneir you want to take home. His heroin habit was so bad that at one point Sinéad O'Connor reported him to the police for drugs posession.

Maxim even acknowledged the fact that MacGowan has lived a life that should have left him dead in his thirties, with their article: By The Grace of God, Shane MacGowan is 50

3. Nick Cave

By far one of the most literary, literate people recording music around. His works name check philosophers, spiritual texts, classic literature.

"Bukowski was a jerk! Berryman was best!

He wrote like wet papier mache, ahh, but he went the Heming-way, weirdly on wings and with maximum pain. And We call upon the author to explain."

And yet this was a man who turned heroin use into a full time career, taking it on and off for over 20 years. After that, does your dealer give you a gold watch?

As the UK's Guardian newspaper writes, "Until his first time in rehab in 1988, he existed in a state of productive chaos, fiercely prolific even at his worst; he was once spotted on the London Underground writing a letter using a hypodermic filled with his own blood."

He started taking heroin in 1977, at the age of twenty. Yes, heroin, the drug most other drug-users are scared of. Just to prove how enormous his bollocks were. If you need more proof as to how messed up his mind is (we're talking Mel Gibson levels of rage and violence and betrayal), just go rent The Proposition. We'll wait.

4. Ozzy Osbourne

He bit the head off of a bat in concert. He bit the head off of a dove in front of recording executives. He once snorted a line of live ants. He pissed on the Alamo.

His career has spanned over 40 years, and yet he's still the unchallenged "Prince of Darkness." That was 40 years of making kick-ass music, and 40 years of near constant drugs and alcohol abuse.

In fact, Ozzy has abused his body so much in that 40 year timespan that scientiests performed a full genome analysis on his DNA to determine what enabled him to survive it.

Scientists Probe Ozzy's Body For Medical Miracles

Let's let Ozzy speak for himself:

"I was curious," he wrote in his column. "Given the swimming pools of booze I've guzzled over the years-not to mention all of the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol…you name it-there's really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why."

And once again, science comes up with an answer. Here's the scientist's quote, but I'm imagining him in my head as Doctor House:

Pearson: "For a long time we thought that Neandertals didn't have any descendents today, but it turns out that Asians and Europeans have some evidence of Neandertal lineage-like a drop in the bucket. We found a little segment on Ozzy's chromosome 10 that very likely traces back to a Neandertal forebearer."

Ozzy Osbourne Genome

So there you have it kids. Don't embark on a lifestyle like Ozzy unless you're part fucking caveman.

5. Lenny Kilmister From Motorhead

First off, he has a name that was born for Rock. Kill-mister. Damn. His name practically proclaims that his testes are larger than yours. And larger than the mole on his cheek, which as you know, is pretty damn big.

He also claims to have bedded 2,000 women. If you're an average American male reading this, that means he's slept with 256 more women than you have, rounding up slightly. Damn. But moving on to the drugs and alcohol.

Unlike many on our list, Lemmy's poison of choice is, and has always been, good old classic booze. No Keith Richards piles of heroin for him. No, Lemmy drinks a bottle of Jack Daniels. Every day. So for the past 35 years, good ol' Lemmy has knocked back a bottle of Jack.

But that doesn't mean that Mr. Kilmister turns up his nose at more illicit substances. He developed a taste for LSC and amphetamines (speed). Let's hear from the man himself:

"I first got into speed because it was a utilitarian drug and kept you awake when you needed to be awake, when otherwise you'd just be flat out on your back. If you drive to Glasgow for nine hours in the back of a sweaty truck you don't really feel like going onstage feeling all bright and breezy... It's the only drug I've found that I can get on with, and I've tried them all - except smack and morphine"

- Lemmy

So he eschews smack, that long-time friend of Keith Richards, Nick Cave, and Shane MacGowan. So if you had to pick someone on this list to be the face of responsible drug use, why not Lemmy. Oh, Wait.

"I have never had heroin but since I moved to London from North Wales in '67 I have mixed with junkies on a casual and almost daily basis," he said. "I also lived with a young woman who tried heroin just to see what it was like. It killed her three years later. I hate the idea even as I say it, but I do believe the only way to treat heroin is to legalise it." - Lemmy speaking before the Welsh Assembly

Damn, now I don't know who to vote for. You tell me which of the foregoing rock stars either should have died already, or which will die in the next year, whichever you prefer.

So Who Should Be Dead Already, Or Will Be Dead Soon

Now you get to vote!

Which of these Rock Musicians do you think will die first?

See results

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Lemme died Dec 2015

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      the list is good - just wondered if Rick Wakeman from yes gets anywhere - after all he had 3 heart attacks before the age of 30 and is still going strong - although I stood next him in a bar once ( had a gig at the local church on the organ ) and he was drinking water !!! but still more hearts attacks and survival points than Mr K Richards

    • AMan4AllSaisons profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @NoYouAreNot: I was using the phrase "should have died," in a medical sense, as in they have put their bodies through so much that it is a wonder they are still alive. I think that's evidenced by the fact that scientists wanted to find out what in Ozzy's DNA enabled him to survive years of drug and alcohol abuse. But thanks for your thoughts.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      It really makes you wonder doesn't it? How much abuse can a body take!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @NoYouAreNot: Oh, and I don't like the "'should' have died" formulation. Just religious (spiritual) scruples.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yep, good DNA and money can help keep you alive.

    • sousababy profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, I didn't know about much of this. But boy oh boy these guys are all lucky to be alive.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Fascinating information on these guys, much of which I didn't know.

    • Ashly Rain profile image

      Ashly Rain 

      7 years ago

      Great lens! Thumbs up, Favorited, and put this on the lensroll for my 10 Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Singers lens. I also voted for Keith Richards, but honestly they'll all probably outlive us all.


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