Rock Stars Really Do Die Young(er)

But they're not particularly vulnerable at 27, researcher notes
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2014 8:20 AM CDT
Rock Stars Really Do Die Young(er)
This Dec. 13, 1993 file photo shows Kurt Cobain of the Seattle band Nirvana performing in Seattle, Wash.   (AP Photo/Robert Sorbo, File)

The idea that rock stars die young is actually true, according to a new study out of Australia. Though most rock stars don't enter the so-called "27 Club," whose members all died at that age (Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison), the study finds that they do die much earlier than the average person. Researchers looked at 12,665 music industry deaths since 1950 and found that the average male musician lives just into his late 50s, while the average female musician lives only into her early 60s, the Wall Street Journal reports. Compare that to the average age of death for American men (75) and women (80) who are not in the industry. The study found that the rates of suicide, homicide, and fatal accidents are all significantly higher among rock stars than among the general population, the lead researcher writes at the Conversation.

"Across the seven decades studied, popular musicians' lifespans were up to 25 years shorter than the comparable US population," she writes. Why? She thinks it has to do with the lifestyle. "The industry itself actually supports outrageous behavior. Drugs are very prevalent—young musicians often take uppers to perform and then party all night with alcohol and drugs," she tells the Journal. Add that to the general stress of touring, and you have a recipe for disaster—particularly because the industry doesn't provide enough emotional support, she says. Rock stars "dream of being at the peak and that all of their psychological problems will somehow be relieved by adoration and squillions of dollars. What they actually come to is a sense of emptiness and an incredibly demanding lifestyle, where everybody is telling them what to do." (Lonely people also may not live as long.)

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