15 Amazing Musicians Who Passed Away Before 40

Musicians have a reputation for being some of the most entertaining people on the planet. Unfortunately, many of them don’t make it past their 40th birthday – if that long. While there are hundreds of musicians that live long, healthy lives, it seems some of the most tragic stories to come out of Hollywood involve the death of musicians at an age that’s much too young. Some of our greatest entertainers never saw their 40s – many of them never even saw their 30s. Read on to find out which famous and amazing artists were taken from the world much too early.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Richie Valens – 17

At 17, Valens was quickly becoming a huge success in the music industry. He was making a name for himself in a way that few musicians are able to do at such a young age. He was slated to become the next big thing, and he was also slated to become a man with a career so successful that he would very well have been the kind of person we still revere today. Unfortunately, Valens was on the same plane that crashed on February 3, 1959 that killed Buddy Holly. Valens also lost his life in the accident.

(Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)

Aaliyah – 22

Aaliyah was hands down the most famous R&B singer of her time. She had several hits, some amazing collaborations and her songs were fan favorites. Unfortunately, the lovely young singer was killed in a tragic plane crash on August 25, 2001. The plane she was in was overloaded and reports state that the man flying the plane was not an actual pilot, and that he’d obtained false documents saying he was a pilot. The plane crash killed Aaliyah and eight other people on board. It was a moment in music history that most people will never forget. It was a tragedy that rocked this generation.

Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images

Buddy Holly – 22

Few things in life are as devastating as losing someone at a young age, and Buddy Holly is no exception to that rule. Upon his death on February 3, 1959, the rock and roll musician was only 22-years-old. He was killed when his plane crashed. He was on his way to Minnesota when the plane went down, killing Holly. It was one of the most tragic occurrences of that generation. To lose a musician with so much talent and so much to offer in such a harrowing circumstance is one that people never forget.

(Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)

Christopher Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.) – 24

When Biggie Smalls was killed on March 9, 1997, the world mourned the loss significantly. He was married to singer Faith Evans, and he was good friends with other famous rappers such as Puff Daddy. His death was caused by a fatal gunshot wound. It’s believed he was killed in retaliation for the death of Tupac Shakur just a few months prior. His death has been linked to the ongoing war between East Coast and West Coast rappers, and he was the unfortunate victim of this gang-related activity.

(Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

Tupac Shakur – 25

If there is a celebrity that people don’t really believe is dead, it’s Tupac. He’s been gone since September 13, 1996, but almost 20 years later he’s still making music. The music industry claims he’s still making music based on old tracks he had laid down before his death, but many aren’t buying it. He was killed in a shooting that is said to have been part of the East Coast/West Coast hip hop war, and the shooter has yet to be identified. However, it’s widely believed that it’s something hired by another famous rapper.

(Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella)

Otis Redding – 26

He’s a soul singer we still sing to today. His only number one hit, unfortunately, was one that was released after his death. “(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay,” is one of the most famous songs of all time, and it’s one everyone knows the lyrics to. Like many famous singers of his time, Redding lost his life in a plane crash. The crash occurred just weeks before Christmas on December 10, 1967. He was only 26 at the time. And he was just one in a string of famous musicians killed in plane crashes in 50s and 60s.

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Big ‘O’ Youth Educational Dream Foundation)

Jimi Hendrix – 27

He will forever be remembered as a guitar God. His talent is something people still strive to achieve and fail miserably. Jimi Hendrix is someone that we still look up to in terms of his sheer talent and success. His life, like so many other musicians, ended much too soon. He died September 18, 1970. The cause of death was asphyxiation. He overdosed on red wine and barbiturates and ended up choking on his own vomit. The cause of death was clear, but there are many rumors surrounding his death – and many of them state that he was murdered.

(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Janis Joplin

It was only 2 weeks after the world mourned the loss of Jimi Hendrix that famed singer Janis Joplin was found dead in her bedroom. She was lying on the floor, dead of an overdose. She took too much heroin and lost her life. The singer was one of the most famous at the time. Her music captivated her fans and is music most of us still listen today. It’s a mark of true talent when almost 45 years after one’s death her music is still being listened to all over the country.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Jim Morrison – 27

He’s just another of the famous musicians to join what many call the 27 club. It’s a club of famous musicians who never lived past this age, and there are a number of conspiracy theories surrounding this club. The frontman for The Doors was home with his wife on July 3, 1971 when he mistook heroin for cocaine, snorted it and died. There is a rumor that he is still alive and well today, and that he wanted out of the spotlight and away from the fame, so he faked his own death to secure a quieter and much more private lifestyle.

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Kurt Cobain – 27

He’s another of the 27 club members. He was the frontman for the popular grunge band Nirvana when he died on April 5, 1994. His death was caused by a gunshot to the head that was self-inflicted. Immediately following the rocker’s death, however, began the conspiracy theories. No one believes he was killed by his own hand. Most people believe that he was murdered for a variety of reasons that include everything from jealousy to a torrid love affair to a drug deal gone very, very wrong. We’ll never know the truth surrounding this one, but it’s widely believed to be death by suicide.

(Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

Amy Winehouse – 27

The British singer is one whose entire career was surrounded in controversy. She often drank on stage and in the middle of her performances. She was rarely – if ever – spotted in public without a cigarette or cocktail and she was a known user of drugs. She joined the musician’s 27 club when she lost her life on July 23, 2011. She’d been working hard to abstain from drinking alcohol when she took in too much vodka in a short amount of time and obtained alcohol poisoning and died. It was a tragic moment for the music industry because her talent was so impressive.

(Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Hank Williams – 29

The famous country legend was taken from the world all too soon. His son, Hank Williams Jr. has been able to create a successful career that spanned decades, but his father’s life was one that ended too soon. Hank Williams was known for being one of the most famous, most loved celebrities during his time. Unfortunately, he lost his life at the age of 29. He was riding in the backseat of blue Caddy convertible on January 1, 1953 after taking too many substances – including alcohol, chloral hydrate and morphine. It was a deadly combo.

(Photo by Matt Cowan/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

Patsy Cline – 30

The strange and horrific thing surrounding the death of Patsy Cline is that the country superstar predicted her own death. She was quoted as saying, “Honey, I’ve had two bad ones. The third one will either be a charm or it’ll kill me,” when discussing two very tragic accidents in which she was involved but survived. She ended up being right. Her prediction came true on March 5, 1963 when she boarded a plane that ended up crashing, killing her. Her music is still played today, and she’s gone down in history as one of the greatest country singers of all time.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez – 30

The TLC singer was killed when she was just 30-years-old. She was driving her car when she lost control of the vehicle. She had three passengers in the vehicle with her, each of whom survived. She was the only casualty in the accident. She died after being thrown from the vehicle and sustaining serious injuries that left her dead. The accident occurred on April 25, 2002. The world was still reeling from the loss of R&B singer Aaliyah just a few months prior in 2001 when the TLC singer was killed.

(Photo by Max Trujillo/Getty Images)

Bob Marley – 36

He’s one of the most famous reggae singers of all time. Bob Marley’s death was not caused by overdose or plane crash, as so many other famous singers. He died of cancer. He was diagnosed with melanoma after doctors found it in his toe. They encouraged the singer to have his toe amputated. However, his religious beliefs stopped him from allowing the doctors to amputate and the cancer spread rapidly before killing him at the tender age of 36. It makes it worse that his death was so easily presentable.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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