Why Rock Stars Die 25 Years Before Their Time

Published: 29th October 2014 09:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th October 2014 09:11 AM   |  A+A-

Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll really do take a toll on rock stars, whose lifespans are up to 25 years shorter than average and who have far higher rates of death by accident, suicide and homicide, a study has found.


A Sydney University academic, who conducted the research, said the "disturbing" findings suggest that the music industry needs to stop "valorising" bad behaviour and destructive lifestyles.


The study by Dianna Kenny, a professor of psychology, is believed to be the first population study of performing pop musicians. It examined the lives and deaths of 12,665 musicians and stars from all popular genres who died between 1950 and June 2014.


The chances of an accidental death for well-known musicians were found to be between five and 10 times greater than for the general population. The average musician lives into their late 50s or early 60s and has a life expectancy that is about 20 years lower than the general population of the United States.


"The results of this study are disturbing," Prof Kenny wrote on The Conversation, a media website. "Across the seven decades studied, popular musicians' lifespans were up to 25 years shorter than the comparable US population. This is clear evidence that all is not well in pop music land." Almost 91 per cent of those studied were male.


The study found that suicide rates among pop stars were between two and seven times greater than average. Homicide rates were up to eight times greater. John Lennon was shot dead in New York by Mark David Chapman in 1980.


On a positive note, the study suggested that most musicians live well beyond 27, the age at which many stars have died, including Amy Winehouse, who died of accidental alcohol poisoning in 2011, and Kurt Cobain, who killed himself in 1994.

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