(April 23, 1963-January 8, 1991)
Stephen Maynard Clark was a founding member and lead guitarist for the British hard rock band, Def Leppard. He was also a key songwriter on 2 of the band’s biggest albums, “Pyromania” (1983) and “Hysteria” (1987).
Steve, along with co-guitarist, Phil Collen were known as the “terror twins” and alcohol played a huge part in their antics on/off stage. Collen quit drinking in the late 80’s, but Clark was soon spiraling out of control and he was becoming unpredictable and the band was worried.
At the time of his death, Clark was on a 6 month leave of absence from the band in hopes he could regain control of his life. On January 8, 1991, the band had been notified that Clark had been found dead on his couch. The autopsy revealed that “he had compression of the brain stem causing respiratory failure” caused by alcohol mixed with prescription drugs. He was only 30 years old.
(August 4, 1959-June 6, 2002
Born Robbinson Lantz Crosby better known as Robbin Crosby from the 80’s hair metal band, Ratt, was born in La Jolla, California. In his high school years, he played baseball up until he found guitar playing, then devoted all his time to learning how to play it.
Bands he was involved with prior to Ratt were, ‘Mac Meda’, ‘Phenomenon’ & ‘Aircraft’. He was one of the originals members of Ratt and co-wrote many of their songs such as “Round and Round”, “Wanted Man” and “Lay it Down”. Their album ‘Out of the Cellar’ went triple platinum which featured the song ‘Round and Round’.
Crosby eventually left Ratt. Shortly thereafter, he began producing the band Lillian Axe and lent his guitar skills to other artists such as Jon Bon Jovi’s multi platinum, solo album, “Blaze of Glory” which was the soundtrack for the movie Young Guns.
In 2001, he publically announced to the world that he had AIDS and had been HIV + since 1994. It is said that Crosby’s usage of heroin throughout his career was the reason for the HIV diagnosis all stemming from the usage dirty needles.
On June 6, 2002, Robbin was found deceased in Los Angeles from reported overdose of heroin and complications from AIDS. In a 1991 interview given to VH1 which didn't air until 2006, Crosby was quoted as saying:
“When I die, nobody cry at my funeral, in fact, let’s all have a party. I’ve lived the life of ten men. I lived my dreams and more.”
At the time of his passing, he was 42 yrs old.
(September 18, 1951-June 5, 2002)
Douglas Glenn Colvin, aka Dee Dee Ramone is known as the bassist and occasional lead singer of the punk rock band, The Ramones. He was the bassist and songwriter from 1974-1989. After leaving the band, he pursued a career in hip hop music under the name Dee Dee King. That was a very short lived adventure so he then returned to his punk rock roots and put forth 3 solo albums presenting brand-new songs which he toured the world promoting, along with several of the Ramone’s songs as well. He continued writing for The Ramones until 1996, when the band retired.
Dee Dee suffered with a drug addiction for the majority of his life. He was especially fond of heroin. In the early 1990’s, he seemed to have gotten himself clean but after awhile, he started using again. Ramone was found on the evening of June 5, 2002 by his wife, Barbara. Autopsy revealed the official cause of death was a heroin overdose. He was 50 years old.
Bradley James Nowell
February 22, 1968 – May 25, 1996)
Bradley James Nowell was the founder and the lead singer for the band Sublime. At a young age, Nowell developed a passion for music after a trip with his father, to the Virgin Islands. There, he was introduced to reggae and dancehall music. Later on, he found love for rock after he had learned to play guitar. Nowell played in a host of bands before forming the band that made him famous. Throughout the years with the band, he struggled with a bad heroin addiction.
While on tour in 1990, he met Troy Dendekkar. In 1995, Troy gave birth to Nowell’s son, Jakob James. After his son was born, Bradley got sober but he relapsed and on the morning of May 25, 1996, just one week after he married Dendekkar, in Las Vegas, he was found dead in his hotel room. The band’s drummer, Bud Gaugh, found Nowell on the floor, next to the bed. Nowell’s dalmation, “Lou Dog” was curled up on the bed whimpering. Gaugh noticed a yellow film around his mouth, then he had realized it was a heroin overdose. Nowell was only 36 yrs old.
(July 20, 1964-May 18, 2017)
Christopher John Boyle, aka Chris Cornell, most known for being the frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave, was an American musician, singer and songwriter. He was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He was one of 6 children, 2 older brothers and 3 younger sisters.
Around the age of 12, Cornell had access to a host of drugs such as marijuana, acid, mushrooms and prescription drugs along with copious amounts of alcohol. He tried to get away from the drinking and the drugs, but relapsed. On top of his addictions, he had severe depression issues, but at the age of 16, Chris found music. He was quoted as saying that his mother saved his life when she bought him a snare drum, which inevitably lead him to his path to stardom. As a child, he had taken piano and guitar lessons as well.
Chris went on to have musical success in bands as well as a solo artist. He has been credited as writing music for movies and had even performed a 3 song set for former Commander in Chief, Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball.
On May 18, 2017, Cornell was found laying on the bathroom floor of his hotel, by his bodyguard, with an exercise band around his neck and blood coming out of his mouth. EMS could not revive him and pronounced dead.
Cornell’s widow has stated she felt the medical examiner “botched” the investigation into the death of her husband. To this day, she said she doesn’t think that he committed suicide “intentionally”. She said earlier in the evening, he had phoned her and told her he had taken “1 or 2” more of his prescribed Ativan. She blames the medicine.
At the time of death, Chris Cornell was 52 years old.
Ronnie James Dio
(July 10, 1942-May 16, 2010)
Ronnie James Dio, born Ronald James Padavona was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He is most recognized as the frontman for Dio. Other bands he had fronted or founded were Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Elf & Heaven and Hell. He is also credited with popularizing the “metal horns” that we recognize as a sign for heavy metal and rock music.
His career spanned over 50 years. He has won many distinctions and awards through the years such as “Metal Guru Award, presented by Classic Rock Magazine and “Best Metal Singer at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards. In his honor, there has been a monument erected of him in Kavarna, Bulgaria. On January 18, 2017, he was inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History.
In 2009, Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer. At this time, he was on the road, working with Heaven and Hell. On May 4, 2010, the band cancelled all of the summer shows due to his health issues. His last performance was with the band on August 29, 2009. On May 16, 2010, Dio passed from metastasized stomach cancer. He was 68 years old.
Wendy Orlean Williams, better known as Wendy O. Williams was a pioneer for women in music. She is best known as playing in the punk band, The Plasmatics, where she was dubbed “The queen of shock rock”. She was famous for wearing very scantily clad outfits & a mohawk, along with blowing various items up on stage and chain sawing guitars.
Williams started out doing live sex shows in 1976 and was in an adult film called, “Candy Goes to Hollywood.” Soon after the film, she was contacted by manager Rob Swenson who brought her aboard The Plasmatics train. Shortly after she joined the band, they became very well known in the NYC underground music scene.
After she had 3 albums under her belt with the band, she decided to try a solo career. In doing so, she released 3 albums between 1984 & 1988. Before she retired from the music industry, she also appeared in the 1986 film, “Reform School Girls”.
In 1991, she was quoted as saying she was “pretty fed up with dealing with people”. She moved to Connecticut with her companion, Rod Swenson and became deeply involved with animal rehabilitation, a passion that also turned her into a strict vegetarian which then led to her become a ‘natural food’ activist.
In 1993, Wendy O. Williams attempted suicide by hammering a knife into her chest which stuck in her sternum. She survived. Then, in 1997, she attempted suicide again by overdosing on ephedrine to which she also survived. On April 6, 1998, she succeeded at suicide by a self inflicted gunshot wound. She was only 48 years old.
It's been 20 years today since the music world lost one of the boldest women to hit the stage.
(February 7, 1946-April 5, 2007)
Mark Leslie Norton a.k.a Mark St. John, was a guitarist known for a brief stint with the band KISS in 1984 who then went on to form his own band, White Tiger.
In 2006, St. John had been arrested and put in jail for 2 weeks for possession of drug paraphernalia & another charge for trying to destroy evidence. He was heavily beaten in jail by inmates. Once released from jail, friends and family stated he was never the same after that experience. He frequently suffered from headaches and body aches.
St. John then fell into drug addiction pretty heavily. On April 5, 2007, Mark suffered a brain hemorrhage brought on by an overdose of methamphetamines. He was 51.
April 5 is a day that marks the death of 3 famous musicians. One of them a legend in rock music and the other two part of the movement known as Grunge that started in Seattle and took over the world in the early 90s. Today we remember Cozy Powell, Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain.
Kurt Cobain, frontman for Nirvana was found dead at his home in Seattle on April 8, 1994. Forensics determined his death had occurred on April 5. The cause of the 27 year old artist's death was declared suicide. Cobain was found with a gunshot to the head and a shotgun across his body, the presence of a nearby suicide note seemed to solidify the circumstances.
Over the years there has been speculation that Cobain was murdered, mostly perpetuated by his widow Courtney Love. Kurt Cobain left behind a wife, a daughter, a successful band and millions of fans.
Colin Trevor “Cozy” Powell was born in Cirencester, Gloucestershire and he was adopted right after birth. At the age of 12, he started playing the drums. Through the years, he was accredited for playing on at least 66 albums. Some of the bands he played for are Rainbow, MSG, Whitesnake, and Black Sabbath. Not only was he a musician, he also wrote and produced as well.
On April 5, 1998, Powell was traveling to the home of the married woman he was seeing after she had phoned him telling him she was having problems with her husband. He was traveling at a high rate of speed, 104 mph for the 35 mile trek. The woman phoned him again while he was on his way and asked “Where are you?” to which he had responded that he was on his way. The next thing she heard was him saying “oh shit” followed by a loud bang. Powell had crashed and was ejected through the windshield and was pronounced dead at the scene. His blood alcohol level was above the limit and he hadn’t been wearing his seatbelt. Powell was 51 years old at the time of his passing.
Layne Rutherford Staley was the lead singer for the band Alice in Chains founded in 1987 with the bands guitarist, Jerry Cantrell. Staley learned to play drums at the age of 12 and had played with a few glam bands in his early teens. In 1997, Cantrell saw Staley perform with Staley’s then band, “Alice N’ Chains” which later became “Alice IN Chains”. Cantrell was impressed with his vocals. He stated that he knew once he heard him sing, that he was the one he wanted to be in a band with. He sounded like no one else. He had the versatility of power projecting and sounding vulnerable at the same time and that is a rarity.
On April 19, 2002, Staley’s accountants contacted his manager, Susan Silvers, alerting her that there had been no bank activity in 2 weeks. Silvers then contacted Staley’s mother who then contacted the police. His mother, her ex husband and police went to Staley’s home where he was found dead. It was reported that Staley, with his 6 foot stature, weighed only 86 pounds. The autopsy concluded that he had been dead since April 5. Included in the autopsy, they revealed that he had passed from a “speedball” which is the combination of heroin and cocaine. He was only 35 yrs old.
Interesting that the deaths of both grunge band members occurred on the same date in separate years and neither Cobain nor Staley were found immediately.
(December 6, 1956-March 19, 1982)
Born Randall William Rhoads, Randy was an amazing, American metal guitarist. He played for Quiet Riot in the late 70’s, but more notably, his work with Ozzy Osbourne catapulted his career and his reputation as one of America's best guitarists, this is true even all these years later. What at amazing legacy he left behind for aspiring musicians and fans!
On March 18, 1982, Rhoads played his last show (unbeknownst to him). The day after, Rhoads who had a fear of flying for some reason went up with the bands make-up artist, Rachel Youngblood, in a private, F-35 plane, without permission. The pilot, that was flying was doing “fly bys” past the Ozzy tour bus and the 3rd time around, one of the planes wings hit the top of the tour bus. The pilot lost control and the plane spiraled out of control. Along with Rachel and the pilot, Rhoads was killed in the fiery crash. He was just 25 years old.
Andrew Wood, the charismatic frontman for Mother Love Bone passed away due to a heroin overdose on March 19, 1990. For many fans this date is etched in their minds as the day the music world changed drastically. A shooting star burned out way too soon, before he even began to realize the success he would surely have been.
In the late 80s and early 90s the Seattle grunge scene seemed poised to explode. Bands like Mother Love Bone, Nirvana, and Soundgarden had developed a devoted local following and while the other front men were interesting there was just something special about Andrew. He moved with a grace that others were lacking, his childlike smile and joy in his music was definitive, and his lyrics from the heart. His disappearance from the world and the music scene sent ripples to the far corners of the world. Even now it's a question in many minds:
What would music be like if Andrew had lived and continued on his musical journey?
The "grunge" community paid tribute over many months and years after Andrew's death. Andrew's roomate, the late Chris Cornell ( May 18, 2017) of Soungarden, along with Eddie Vedder and some of Andrew's MLB band members chose to honor their friend by forming the group Temple of the Dog. Candlebox frontman Kevin Martin, another close friend wrote the song "Far Behind" in Andrew's memory. Alice in Chains also paid tribute, dedicating their first album Facelift to Andrew and their second album contained the song "Would" about Andrew and others lost to heroin addiction.
Mother Love Bone's album Apple was released after Andrew's death and became the symbol of "what if" in the music world. David Browne of The New York Times stated “Apple may be one of the first great hard-rock records of the 90’s. Andrew Wood could have been the first of the big-league Seattle rock stars.”
The following video is a live performance, while there is an actual video for this song, I love hearing Andrew's voice and watching him do his thing freely and unrehearsed or edited.
On February 20, 2003 The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island erupted in flames during a performance listed on the marquee as Great White. During this terrifying fire 100 people lost their lives including Great White band member Ty Longley.
While there have been reports of lawsuits, acrimony and even debates about whether it was a solo gig or the full band, what remains is that in a terrible accident lives were lost, people around the world grieved the loss of so many rock n roll fans.
Today marks 15 years since this tragedy, and while many other tragedies have taken place during those years, rock fans will always remember The Station nightclub fire. Former Great White vocalist said on the 10th anniversary of the fire,
"My heart aches for all the families and friends of the victims whose lives will forever be changed by this terrible tragedy. I too lost many friends that night, but I can’t begin to equate that to the loss of a family member. For what it’s worth, you have been in my prayers and always will be.”
Survivor Victoria Eagan co-founded the Station Fire Memorial Foundation, to raise funds for a memorial park at the fire site. The non-profit group has acquired the land, designed a beautiful future plan for the area currently filled with 100 crosses made from burned Station nightclub wood.
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