Combining theatrics and an outrageously flamboyant stage persona with his fine natural-born talent (he possessed one of the greatest voices in all of music and penned some of pop's most enduring and instantly recognizable compositions), one of rock's greatest all-time entertainers/showmen was unquestionably Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury. Born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946, in Zanzibar to Persian parents (his father worked as a high court cashier for the British government), young Farrokh soon adopted the name Freddie by fellow classmates while attending an English boarding school. Freddie soon discovered his love for art and music, both subjects that he explored voraciously (he began taking piano lessons around this time), putting his newly found piano talent to use as he played in rock & roll bands with friends. Due to political upheaval in Zanzibar, Freddie and his family fled Zanzibar for England in 1964. Back in England, Freddie enrolled in the Ealing College of Art and fell under the spell of guitar wizard Jimi Hendrix. It was while attending Ealing that Freddie befriended a fellow aspiring musician, bassist Tim Staffel, who was a member of a local band called Smile. Freddie soon began attending Smile's rehearsals and struck up a friendship with the group's other members, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Inspired by his new friends, he began playing in bands himself (such as Ibex, Wreckage, and Sour Milk Sea, among others), but instead of just playing piano as he did back in Zanzibar, he began singing. To pay the bills, Freddie opened up a stall on Piccadilly Circus with Taylor, selling clothing geared toward fellow rock musicians. By 1970, Freddie had become frustrated that his music career had yet to blossom, and when he heard that Staffel had left Smile, Freddie promptly took his place, finally uniting musically with May and Taylor. I
John Alvin "Johnnie" Ray (January 10, 1927 – February 24, 1990) was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Extremely popular for most of the 1950s, Ray has been cited by critics as a major precursor of what would become rock and roll, for his jazz and blues-influenced music and his animated stage personality
Jim Hodder (December 17, 1947 – June 5, 1990) was an American drummer, best known as the original drummer for Steely Dan. He was born in Bethpage, Long Island, N.Y.in 1947, and graduated from Plainedge High School in 1965. As drummer/vocalist, he was a member of the band Bead Game. Their first album, Baptism, was canceled, though it would receive a posthumous release in 1996 with a very limited run. In 1970 they appeared in the film The People Next Door (in which they performed two songs) and recorded the album Easy Ridin' as part of the collective Freedom Express.1970 also saw the release of the band's only proper album, Welcome, on Avco/Embassy. This album showcased a late psychedelic/early progressive crossover sound, and had Hodder singing lead vocals on all tracks. He joined Steely Dan in 1972, but left in 1974. While part of Steely Dan, he worked on the Can't Buy a Thrill and Countdown to Ecstasy albums as well as part of Pretzel Logic. In 1972 he sang the lead vocal on the song "Midnight Cruiser" and the vocal on the song "Dallas", which appeared only on a single. Hodder continued working as a session musician, playing drums on Linda Ronstadt's single "You're No Good," and for musicians such as Sammy Hagar and David Soul. In 1990, he drowned in his swimming pool at age 42.
Stiv Bators (born Steven John Bator; October 22, 1949 – June 4, 1990) was an American punk rock vocalist and guitarist from Youngstown, Ohio. He is best remembered for his bands, The Dead Boys and The Lords of the New Church Bators worked as a telemarketer selling circus tickets in the summer of 1976 in Lakewood Ohio. His Deadboys bandmate Cheeta Chrome (Gene) also worked there.
Eric Carr (born Paul Charles Caravello; July 12, 1950 – November 24, 1991) was an American musician, best known as drummer for the rock band Kiss. Caravello was selected as the new Kiss drummer after Peter Criss left in 1980, where he chose the stage name "Eric Carr" and took up the "Fox" persona. He remained a band member until his death of complications from heart cancer in November 1991, aged 41. Caravello was an artist and went to the High School of Art & Design in New York City.
Rob Tyner (December 12, 1944 – September 17, 1991) was an American musician best known as lead singer for the proto-punk rock band MC5. Born Robert Derminer, his adopted surname was in tribute to the jazz pianist McCoy Tyner. It was Tyner who issued the infamous rallying cry of "kick out the jams, motherfuckers" at the MC5's live concerts. Tyner had originally auditioned as the bass player, but the band felt his talents would be best used as a lead vocalist.
Stephen Peter "Steve" Marriott (30 January 1947 – 20 April 1991) was an English musician, songwriter and frontman of two notable rock and roll bands, spanning over two decades. Marriott is remembered for his powerful singing voice which belied his small stature, and for his aggressive approach as a guitarist in the mod rock bands- Small Faces (1965–1969) and Humble Pie (1969–1975 and 1980–1981). Marriott was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2012 as a member of Small Faces.
Stephen Maynard Clark (23 April 1960 – 8 January 1991) was an English musician, best known as one of multiple songwriters and co-lead guitarist for the British hard rock band Def Leppard up until his death in 1991 due to a combination of alcohol and multiple prescription drugs. In 2007 Clark was ranked #11 on Classic Rock Magazine's "100 Wildest Guitar Heroes"
Viktor Robertovich Tsoi (21 June 1962 – 15 August 1990) was a Soviet musician, songwriter, and leader of the band Kino. He is regarded as one of the pioneers of Russian rock and has many devoted fans across the countries of the former Soviet Union even today. Few musicians in the history of Russian music have been more popular or have had more impact on their genre than Viktor Tsoi and his rock band Kino. Aside from that, Tsoi contributed a plethora of musical and artistic works, including ten albums. Viktor Tsoi died in a car accident on August 15, 1990, aged 28.
Davis Eli "David" Ruffin (January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991) was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964 to 1968 (or the group's "Classic Five" period as it was later known). He was the lead voice on such famous songs as "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."
Mike Naumenko (Russian: Майк Нау́менко, born Mikhail Vasilyevich Naumenko, 18 April 1955 – 30 August 1991) was a Soviet rock and blues musician, the leader of Zoopark rock group. Born in Leningrad, in the 1970s he was a member of the Russian rock group Akvarium, and in 1981 he formed Zoopark, which became one of the most outstanding blues rock groups of USSR. Naumenko is considered one of the best lyricists of Russian rock, although drawing heavily on Bob Dylan and other UK/US songwriters, and occasionally retaining the original melody as well. Some of Naumenko's songs are more or less faithful translations or remakes of English language source material (the notions of copyright and plagiarism being hardly established in the Soviet Union, especially as regards works created on the other side of the Iron Curtain). Largely imitative, Naumenko's input was yet very significant as he adapted the Western rock tradition to Russian culture and the urban realities of Leningrad
Stephen "Stevie" Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American guitarist, singer-songwriter, and record producer. Often referred to by his initials SRV, Vaughan is best known as a founding member and leader of Double Trouble. Together with drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, they ignited the blues revival of the 1980s. With a career spanning seven years, Vaughan and Double Trouble consistently sold out concerts while their albums frequently went gold.
Øystein Aarseth (22 March 1968 – 10 August 1993), who went by the pseudonym Euronymous, was a Norwegian guitarist and co-founder of the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. He was also founder and owner of the extreme metal record label Deathlike Silence Productions and record shop Helvete. Euronymous was the founder of and central figure in the early Norwegian black metal scene until his murder by fellow musician Varg Vikernes in 1993.
Edward Earl "Eddie" Hazel (April 10, 1950 – December 23, 1992) was a guitarist in early funk music in the United States who played lead guitar with Parliament-Funkadelic. Hazel was a posthumous inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.
Harry Edward Nilsson III (June 15, 1941 – January 15, 1994) was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s. On all but his earliest recordings he is credited as Nilsson. He is known for the hit singles "Everybody's Talkin'" (1969), "Without You" (1971), and "Coconut" (1972). Nilsson also wrote the song “One” made famous by the rock band Three Dog Night. His career is notable for the fact that he was one of the few major pop-rock recording artists of his era to achieve significant commercial success without ever performing major public concerts or undertaking regular tours.
Jeffrey Thomas "Jeff" Porcaro (April 1, 1954 – August 5, 1992) was an American session drummer and a founding member of the Grammy Award winning band Toto. Porcaro was one of the most recorded drummers in history, working on hundreds of albums and thousands of sessions. While already an established studio player in the 1970s, he shot to prominence in the US as the drummer on the Steely Dan album Katy Lied. Allmusic has characterized him as "arguably the most highly regarded studio drummer in rock from the mid-'70s to the early '90s", further stating that "It is no exaggeration to say that the sound of mainstream pop/rock drumming in the 1980s was, to a large extent, the sound of Jeff Porcaro."
Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American musician, composer, guitarist, recording engineer, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. While in his teens, he acquired a taste for 20th-century classical composers such as Edgard Varèse, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton Webern along with 1950s rhythm and blues music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands; he later switched to electric guitar. Zappa was a self-taught composer and performer, and his diverse musical influences led him to create music that was often difficult to categorize. His 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. His later albums shared this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of whether the fundamental format was rock, jazz or classical. His lyrics—often humorously—reflected his iconoclastic view of established social and political processes, structures and movements. He was a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech, self-education, political participation and the abolition of censorship.
Michael Clarke (June 3, 1946 – December 19, 1993), born Michael James Dick, was an American musician, best known as the drummer for the 1960s rock group The Byrds from 1964 to 1967. He died in 1993, at age 47, from liver failure, a direct result of more than three decades of heavy alcohol consumption.
Earl Van Dyke (July 8, 1930, – September 18, 1992) was an African American soul musician, most notable as the main keyboardist for Motown Records' in-house Funk Brothers band during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Van Dyke, who was born in Detroit, Michigan, United States, was preceded as keyboardist and bandleader of the Funk Brothers by Joe Hunter. In the early 1960s, he also recorded as a jazz organist with saxophonists Fred Jackson and Ike Quebec for the Blue Note label.
Edward James Kendrick (December 17, 1939 – October 5, 1992), best known by the stage name Eddie Kendricks, was an American singer and songwriter. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded the Motown singing group The Temptations, and was one of their lead singers from 1960 until 1971. His was the lead voice on such famous songs as "The Way You Do The Things You Do", "Get Ready", and "Just My Imagination". As a solo artist, Kendricks recorded several hits of his own during the 1970s, including the number-one single "Keep On Truckin'".
Kevin Michael "GG" Allin (born Jesus Christ Allin; August 29, 1956 – June 28, 1993) was an American punk rock singer-songwriter, who performed and recorded with many groups during his career. GG Allin is best remembered for his notorious live performances, which often featured transgressive acts, including coprophagia, self-mutilation, and attacking audience members.
Jerry Edmonton (October 24, 1946 – November 28, 1993) was the drummer for the rock band, Steppenwolf. He was born Gerald McCrohan in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Both he and his brother Dennis, also known as Mars Bonfire, changed their surnames to Edmonton during the 1960s, when they performed in a group called The Sparrows. John Kay and Goldy McJohn joined this group in Toronto in 1965 and, after some more changes in personnel and relocating to California, the group was renamed Steppenwolf.
Mary Esther Wells (May 13, 1943 – July 26, 1992) was an American singer who helped to define the emerging sound of Motown in the early 1960s. Along with The Miracles, The Temptations, The Supremes, and the Four Tops, Wells was said to have been part of the charge in black music onto radio stations and record shelves of mainstream America, "bridging the color lines in music at the time."
David Rubinstein (September 5, 1964 – July 3, 1993) was an American musician, the co-founder of the influential New York-based punk rock group Reagan Youth. He founded the group with guitarist Paul Bakija when both were in Forest Hills High School in Forest Hills, Queens. The band played the punk clubs of Manhattan while the members were still in high school.
William James "Willie" Dixon (July 1, 1915 – January 29, 1992) was an American blues musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger and record producer. A Grammy Award winner who was proficient on both the upright bass and the guitar and as a vocalist, Dixon is perhaps best known as one of the most prolific songwriters of his time. Next to Muddy Waters, Dixon is recognized as the most influential person in shaping the post-World War II sound of the Chicago blues.
Robert Willie White (November 19, 1936 – October 27, 1994) was an African-American soul musician, one of the guitarists for Motown's in-house studio band, the Funk Brothers, White is best known for performing the guitar riff on The Temptations' number-one hit single "My Girl", but played the guitar on many successful Motown records, including "Can I Get a Witness" by Marvin Gaye, "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by The Supremes, "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder, and "It's a Shame" by The Spinners.
Vivian Stanshall (born Victor Anthony Stanshall; 21 March 1943 – 5 March 1995) was an English singer-songwriter, painter, musician, author, poet and wit, best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, for his surreal exploration of the British upper classes in Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, and for narrating Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells.
Creadel "Red" Jones (September 26, 1940 – August 25, 1994) was an original member of the Chicago recording group known as The Chi-Lites. His distinctive bass voice was one of the group's trademarks, and was heard on many of their hits, such as "Are You My Woman","I Like Your Lovin',(Do You Like Mine)", "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People," and "Oh Girl". He left the group in the mid-1970s and was replaced by Stanley Anderson. He made a brief return in 1980. Jones left for good in 1990 and died four years later.
Danny Gatton (September 4, 1945 – October 4, 1994) was an American guitarist who fused rockabilly, jazz, and country styles to create his own distinctive style of playing. A biography, Unfinished Business: The Life and Times of Danny Gatton by Ralph Heibutzki, was published in 2003. It has a voluminous discography. When Rolling Stone magazine selected the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time in 2003, senior editor David Fricke ranked Gatton 63rd on his ballot.
Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) was an American musician and artist, best known as the lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter of the grunge band Nirvana. Cobain formed Nirvana with Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1985 and established it as part of the Seattle music scene, having its debut album Bleach released on the independent record label Sub Pop in 1989.
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995), known mononymously as Selena, was an American singer-songwriter, fashion designer and entrepreneur. Selena was born as the last child of a Mexican American father and a half-Cherokee mother. She released her first LP record at the age of twelve with her Selena y Los Dinos band.
Bradley James Nowell (February 22, 1968 – May 25, 1996) was an American musician who served as lead singer and guitarist of the ska punk band Sublime. He died at the age of 28 from a heroin overdose shortly before the release of Sublime's self-titled major label debut. Raised in Long Beach, California, Nowell developed an interest in music at a young age. His father took him on a trip to the Virgin Islands during his childhood, which exposed him to reggae and dancehall music. Nowell played in various bands until forming the group Sublime with bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh, whom he had met while attending California State University, Long Beach. As Sublime gained success, Nowell struggled with a worsening addiction to heroin. After several attempts to quit using the drug, Nowell died of a heroin overdose while Sublime was on tour on May 25, 1996.
Jonathan Melvoin (December 6, 1961 – July 12, 1996) was an American musician active in the 1980s and 1990s. He was the brother of Susannah and Wendy Melvoin of Prince and the Revolution. He first learned to play drums, and was cited by friends and relatives as one of those people who could play anything. He performed with many punk bands in the '80s such as The Dickies, and also made musical contributions to many of Wendy & Lisa projects, as well as Prince and the Revolution's album Around the World in a Day. At the time of his death he was the touring keyboardist for The Smashing Pumpkins during their worldwide tour for the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
Kevin Matthew Gilbert (November 20, 1966 - May 17, 1996) was an American songwriter, musician, composer, producer and collaborator born in Sacramento, California, later living in San Mateo, California where he attended Junipero Serra High School. He died at age 29 in Los Angeles from apparent autoerotic asphyxiation
Ronald "Ronnie" White (April 5, 1939 – August 26, 1995) was an American musician, best known as the co-founder of The Miracles and its only consistent original member. White was also known to bring Stevie Wonder to the attention of Motown Records and was also a songwriter of several hit singles for the Miracles and other artists including The Temptations and Mary Wells.
William Rory Gallagher ( 2 March 1948 – 14 June 1995) was an Irish blues-rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, and raised in Cork, Gallagher recorded solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, after forming the band Taste during the late 1960s. A talented guitarist known for his charismatic performances and dedication to his craft, Gallagher's albums have sold in excess of 30 million copies worldwide. Gallagher received a liver transplant in 1995, but died of complications later that year in London, UK at the age of 47.
Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997), raised as Scotty Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He was the son of Tim Buckley, also a musician. After a decade as a session guitarist in Los Angeles, Buckley amassed a following in the early 1990s by playing cover songs at venues in Manhattan's East Village, such as Sin-é, gradually focusing more on his own material. After rebuffing much interest from record labels and his father's manager Herb Cohen, he signed with Columbia, recruited a band, and recorded what would be his only studio album, Grace.
Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer, songwriter, activist, and humanitarian. After traveling and living in numerous locations while growing up in his military family, Denver began his music career in folk music groups in the late 1960s. His greatest commercial success was as a solo singer, starting in the 1970s. Throughout his life, Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed. He performed primarily with an acoustic guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his enthusiasm for music, and his relationship trials. Denver's music appeared on a variety of charts, including country and western, the Billboard Hot 100, and adult contemporary, in all earning him twelve gold and four platinum albums with his signature songs "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Annie's Song", "Rocky Mountain High", and "Sunshine on My Shoulders".
Laura Nyro (October 18, 1947 – April 8, 1997) was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. She achieved critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968) and New York Tendaberry (1969), and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and The 5th Dimension recording her songs. Her style was a hybrid of Brill Building-style New York pop, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, show tunes, rock and soul.
Ronald Frederick "Ronnie" Lane (1 April 1946 – 4 June 1997) was an English musician, songwriter, and producer who is best known as the bass guitarist and founding member of two prominent English rock and roll bands: Small Faces where he was nicknamed "Plonk", (1965–69) – and, after losing the band's frontman, Faces, with two new members added to the line up, (from The Jeff Beck Group), who dubbed him "Three-Piece" (1969–73). It was for his work in both Small Faces and Faces that Lane was inducted posthumously into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2012
Johann (Hans) Hölzel (19 February 1957 – 6 February 1998), better known by his stage name About this sound Falco , was an Austrian pop and rock musician and rapper. He had several international hits: "Rock Me Amadeus", "Der Kommissar", "Vienna Calling", "Jeanny", "The Sound of Musik", "Coming Home (Jeanny Part 2)" and posthumously, "Out of the Dark". "Rock Me Amadeus" reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, making him the only artist whose principal language was German to score a number-one hit in the United States. His estate claims he has sold 20 million albums and 15 million singles, which makes him the best selling Austrian singer of all time.
Carl Dean Wilson (December 21, 1946 – February 6, 1998) was an American rock and roll singer, guitarist and composer, best known as a founding member, lead guitarist and occasional lead vocalist of The Beach Boys. Wilson performed lead vocals on a number of notable songs by the Beach Boys, including "Good Vibrations" and "God Only Knows".