Popular Musicians Who Died From Overdose

by Ana on February 26, 2009

in History

There have been a large amount of unfortunate losses of musicians due to do overdose.  Some have been accidental and some haven’t.  Some have become legends in music where as some are only remembered by true fans or music historians.  The following is an account of some of these musicians:

John Bonham (May 1948 – September 1980): The loss of Led Zeppelin’s drummer was a sad one for people around the world.  Bonham had been battling alcoholism for years prior to his death.  The autopsy revealed that the morning before he was found dead at Page’s house, Bonham had consumed 40 measures of vodka resulting in pulmonary edema–waterlogging of the lungs caused by inhalation of vomit.

John Entwistle (October 1944 – June 2002): The Who’s bassist was found dead one day before the band’s 2002 US tour at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  An undetermined amount of cocaine was found in his bloodstream which caused his coronary arteries to contract resulting in a heart attack.  It could be argued that Entwistle’s death was more a result of his heart condition than drugs; but using cocaine for a significant portion of his life did not help to improve his condition and  ultimately resulted in his death.

Keith Moon (August 1946 – September 1978): The Who are one of those bands who were unfortunate enough to lose more than one member during their career.  Moon played drums on all their albums from their debut up until Who Are You, which was released two weeks before his death.  Having built a reputation for destruction, his ultimate demise came as no surprise.  He was known for such pranks as flushing powerful fireworks down the toilet and destroying them in addition to physically abusing his wife, girlfriend and only daughter.  The night of his death, Moon and his girlfriend were guests at Paul McCartney’s house for a screening of The Buddy Holly Story.  After dinner, they returned to a flat in London where Moon died of an overdose from Clomethiazole–a sedative prescribed to alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Pete Farndon (June 1952 – April 1983): Farndon was the bassist and founding member of The Pretenders.  He was dismissed from the band about a year before his death due to his drug problems and two days before their guitarist died from heart failure from cocaine intolerance.  He played a prominent role in shaping the bands “tough” image with his biker clothing followed by samurai gear he wore on stage.  While in the midst of forming a new band with the Clash’s former drummer, Farndon was found dead by his wife after passing out and drowning in his bathtub from a heroin overdose.

Jimi Hendrix (November 1942 – September 1970): One of the most world renowned guitarists, Hendrix has won several prestigious music awards including being named the top guitarist in the Rolling Stones’ 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.  He has awed generations of rock fans for years now.  There has been much debate over the events that led up to Hendrix’s death.  He died shortly after being pick up by his girlfriend from a party.  According to her original testimony, Hendrix had taken 9 Vesperax–a prescription sleeping pill.  According to the doctor, Hendrix asphyxiated in his own vomit after having too much red wine.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard (November 1968 – November 2004): Known for his erratic behavior, the founder of rap group Wu-Tang Clan had several run-ins with the law.  Ol’ Dirty Bastard, born Russell Tyrone Jones, developed a successful solo career but was always viewed as a bit of an oddball  with such stage names as “Big Baby Jesus.”  He was arrested several times for such charges as second degree assault, failure to pay child support, robbery, possession of crack cocaine and was the first person to be arrested for wearing a bulletproof vest as a convicted felon under the new California law.  He died of an accidental overdose from the prescription painkiller Tramadol and high amounts of cocaine.

Janis Joplin (January 1943 – October 1970): Joplin began her career as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company.  Prior to this Joplin had actually enrolled at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas to study Sociology after deciding to avoid drugs and alcohol.  This didn’t last too long as Joplin eventually joined the band only to leave and launch a short lived solo career.  Joplin died of a heroin overdose.  After her death, John Lennon received a birthday greeting from Joplin–one of her last recordings.

Bradley Nowell (February 1968 – May 1996):  College students all over have found themselves at one point singing along to Nowell’s songs in the band Sublime.  After establishing Sublime with his buddy, Bud Gaugh, at Cal State Long Beach, the band began to perform at house parties eventually gaining popularity throughout Southern California.  Nowell developed a heroin habit after his frustration with major labels not recognizing them.  He claimed it helped him be more creative and would ultimately gain the attention of labels.  Unfortunately, after gaining the attention of MCA records, Nowell’s habit continued until he was found dead while on tour from an accidental overdose of heroin, Valium and alcohol less than two weeks after his marriage.

Many other musicians have died from overdose or simply battled with substance abuse.  Some, such as Jim Morrison, have been known to lead destructive lifestyles but the actual cause of their death remains a mystery.

{ 0 comments… add one now }