The Most Devastating Deaths In Classic Rock In The Last 5 Years
via Tom Petty/YouTube
In the past five years, we’ve lost more legendary rockers than we can count. Each of them shook the industry to its core. Even so, their rich legacy and overall contribution to the genre will never be forgotten.
2016 started off with the news of David Bowie’s death – the man who gave us several alter egos, who broke the rules in rock, and reinvented himself numerous times in the name of art. Following a lengthy battle with liver cancer for over a year, Bowie passed away at his Lafayette Street home in New York City on January 10. Because he kept his health problems private, both his friends and fans were shocked when the news broke.
Though mostly remembered as the founding member and primary songwriter of The Eagles, Glenn Frey also launched a successful solo career following their disbandment. By 2000, he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and his medications resulted to colitis and pneumonia. In November 2015, The Eagles announced the postponement of their appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors because Glenn Frey had to undergo surgery and needed a long recovery period. He never had the surgery because of pneumonia and was in a medically induced coma at Columbia University Medical Center. He died on January 18, 2016 from complications brought about by rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia.
The Father of Rock ‘n Roll was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s one of the most influential musicians of all time, inspiring countless other rockstars like The Beatles. On March 18, 2017, he was found unresponsive at his home. It was his personal physician who pronounced him dead.
It was just a week after the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary Tour ended when Tom Petty was found unconscious at his home on October 2, 2017. The first responders resuscitated him and rushed him to the UCLA Medical Center. He died a few hours later at 8:40 pm. Then on January 19, 2018, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner announced that the rocker died of “multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity.” He took the drugs for various health issues such as a fractured hip. The drugs listed were “fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl, and despropionyl fentanyl.”
Malcolm Young retired from AC/DC in 2014 to seek treatment for dementia. He died from the illness on November 18, 2017 at Lulworth House in Elizabeth Bay. He continued to inspire his band and in fact, AC/DC’s latest album served as a tribute to him.
In 2009, Peter Tork revealed that he was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma and he underwent a successful surgery. However a few months later, it was announced that his cancer was back. But even as he received treatments, he continued to tour and perform. His cancer returned in 2018 and he died on February 21, 2019 just eight days after his birthday.
Cream’s resident virtuoso behind the kit was widely recognized as one of the greatest drummers of all time with his work on “Toad” often cited as his finest moment. In 2013, Baker’s lifestyle caught of with him. His years of heavy smoking resulted to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and he also suffered from degenerative osteoarthritis. Three years later in 2016, he canceled his gigs after the drummer was diagnosed with “serious heart issues”. In June that year, he was in the process of recovering from an open heart surgery and while that was going well, he had a bad fall. In September 2019, he was critically ill in the hospital and died on October 6.
In December 2015, Neil Peart announced his retirement. In January 2018, guitarist Alex Lifeson revealed that Rush was no more because of Peart’s health issues. After retiring, Peart spent his last years peacefully at home with his wife and daughter. Then he died on January 7, 2020 – a news which shocked the entire world because he kept his illness private. As it turned out, he had been battling cancer for more than three years – something only his family and select friends knew.
Little Richard broke barriers in music. Known as one of the pioneers of rock ‘n roll, he was a key figure in the genre for seven decades. Dubbed as “The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll”, he died on May 9, 2020 – the cause of his death was related to bone cancer.
Eddie Van Halen
After years of rumors concerning his health, Eddie Van Halen passed away on October 6, 2020 at the age of 65. He’s had several health scares in the past. He died of stroke at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. It was his son Wolfgang who confirmed the news on social media.