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13 Rock Stars Who Disappeared

From David Bowie to D’arcy Wretzky, a guide to musicians who have left the spotlight behind

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images; Larry Busacca/WireImage; Alex Henry Moore, Getty Images

Six years ago, Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett died after spending nearly 40 years as rock's most famous recluse. Countless fans and journalists had flocked to his hometown of Cambridge, England over the years, hoping to catch a glimpse of the famously troubled musician, but most left with nothing. Aside from an occasional paparazzi shot, he managed to avoid the press (not to mention the recording studio and the stage) for decades.

Barrett is perhaps the most extreme example of a rock star who chose to drop off the grid after achieving fame, but he's far from the only one. Some artists, like David Bowie and Abba's Agnetha Fältskog, continue to make public appearances even after they stop making new music and granting interviews. Others, like former Queen bassist John Deacon, seem to all but vanish altogether.

Here's a guide to 13 rock stars who have voluntarily left the spotlight over the years – each one graded on a scale of one to 10 Barretts. A one means the artist is merely inactive and prone to long media absences; a 10 means a full-scale disappearing act à la Syd Barrett. Extra points are awarded to anyone who chose not to show up at his or her own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

By Andy Greene

D'arcy Wretzky

Frans Schellekens/Redferns; Paul Bergen/Redferns

D’arcy Wretzky

Smashing Pumpkins bassist D'arcy Wretzky left the group in 1999. According to recent interviews with Billy Corgan, she said she wanted to become an actress. Corgan also infamously called her a "mean spirited drug addict who refuses to get help." The acting career never happened; instead, Wretzky moved to a horse farm in Michigan and totally disappeared. Pumpkins fans were stunned when she called into a Chicago radio station in 2009 for a bizarre interview in which she discussed Davy Jones, Marilyn Manson and the Silversun Pickups. Many fans felt that she didn't sound too healthy, and their concerns were seemingly confirmed when she was arrested for drunk driving last year.

Barrett Scale: 8. Wretzky is the kind of recluse whose photo only hits the web when it's a mug shot. The bizarre, random interview is another classic rock recluse behavior, and she lives in a remote place far from the music industry. All of this is enough to get her a solid eight. The Pumpkins will be eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in just a few years. If Wretzky fails to show up at their induction, we might upgrade her to a nine or even a rare perfect 10.

John Deacon

Richard E. Aaron/Redferns; Mick Hutson/Redferns

John Deacon

Queen bassist John Deacon wrote some of the band's most beloved songs, including "Another One Bites The Dust," "I Want To Break Free" and "You're My Best Friend." He participated in the Freddie Mercury tribute show in 1992 and he joined his surviving bandmates and Elton John to perform "The Show Must Go On" in 1997. After that, he basically fell off the face of the earth. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have performed as Queen numerous times in the past 15 years (even touring the world and releasing a new album with Paul Rodgers), but Deacon has declined to participate in any of it. There aren't even any recent photos of him that we can find.

Barrett Scale: 9. Deacon has done an extraordinary job of being a rock recluse.  He didn't attend Queen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he seems to have decided that Queen died with Freddy Mercury. Maybe playing the bass parts to "Tie Your Mother Down" with Adam Lambert just isn't his idea of a good time.

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