Duane Allman (1946-1971) of the Allman Brothers Band
When Bret Michaels of Poison recently suffered a brain hemorrhage, it made me think of the older rock stars that I enjoyed years ago and the premature demise of many. Fortunately, Michaels survived so he is one of the lucky ones but with their hard driving lifestyles, a lot of these guys go ten toes pointing up long before they need to. Too much booze, dope, and women can lead to a downfall but not necessarily in that order.
Keith Moon was the drummer for The Who but he left us in 1978 at age 32 after he OD on pills and choked to death on his own vomit. Jimi Hendrix also did the vomit choking thing in 1970 when he died in a London hospital at 27. Pills were the culprit there also. Janis Joplin died of heroin poisoning in 1970 sixteen days after Hendrix.
Those 60’s and 70’s rockers didn’t fool around when it came to drugs and booze. I remember Janis wailing away on stage while swilling from a bottle of Southern Comfort. Hendrix was known for some heavy drug use, especially LSD although when they did an autopsy on him, they found more red wine than anything besides an overdose of sleeping pills. The dosage on those pills was half a tablet but some sources say he took about nine of them that night. Moon was on medication that was supposed to handle withdrawal from alcoholism. Being a compulsive guy, he took 32 tablets in a short amount of time which was plenty to kill him.
Does anyone remember Bobby Darin? Bobby died in 1973 at age 37 from complications of open heart surgery. My greatest remembrance of him was his first big hit “Dream Lover” in 1959. It was a smash as it became an anthem for the drive-in movie and restaurant teen crowd. Bobby was more interested in sounding like Frank Sinatra though and followed with million seller “Mack the Knife” in 1960. He also did some acting roles in movies along with Las Vegas gigs until heart problems caught up with him much too early in life.
Most of us remember the big hit from 1979, “My Sharona” by The Knack. Lead singer and guitarist Doug Fieger died in February, 2010 of a brain tumor. “My Sharona” was another one of those anthem songs for a lot of kids who grew up in the 70s. I danced to it many times myself and was sad to see Fieger go at the young age of 57.
Alex Chilton was the lead singer for The Box Tops, a great little group from the 1960’s. In 1967 they released their biggest hit, “The Letter.” Barb and I danced to that song many times in my college days in Missouri in the late ‘60s. Chilton died at 59 of heart failure in May of 2010.
Every time I hear the old tunes, I can think of somewhere in the past I heard them and the good times that accompanied them. When I see these artists dying off, it is like losing part of my youth. Fortunately, they will always be with us in a sense through their recordings.
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