Not Fade Away: Rockers Lost Before Their Time - Rolling Stone
Home Music Music Lists

Not Fade Away: Rockers Lost Before Their Time

Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, John Lennon and more

amy winehouse pictures

Mark Allan/WireImage


Amy Winehouse, the Grammy-winning British retro-soul singer whose remarkable musical achievements were often overshadowed by her tumultuous personal life, was found dead at her home in the Camden section of London on July 23rd. Though police were calling the cause of death "unexplained" while they awaited a medical examiner's report, many have speculated that Winehouse finally succumbed to addiction following years of well-documented drug and alcohol problems. The singer was 27 years old.

GONE TOO SOON: Brian Jones: 1942-1969

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones

July 3rd 1969. Sussex England. He drowned in his own swimming pool, described as "death by misadventure" by the coroner.

If Keith Richard and Mick Jagger were the mind and body of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones, standing most of the time in the shadows, was clearly the soul.

Brian, in with Keith and Mick from the earliest — when the Stones were still largely an R&B discussion group meeting in a Soho pub — was labeled the quietest, the moodiest of the group. But he was in fact the most vocal to the press, angrily and sharply defending the Stones' then-radical style of music, their appearance, their politics, and their whole style of life.

GONE TOO SOON: Janis Joplin: 1943-1970

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Janis Joplin

October 4th 1970. Los Angeles, California. Heroin overdose.

Bill Graham: "I don't think Janis tried to be black. I think Janis sang as a young person coming out of Texas and having kicked around San Francisco, and her voice was her voice and that was her interpretation of the songs. She sang blues. And in here own way… you know, when someone is a stylist or the originator of a style and… a particular style of blues, I don't think you can compare here. And I keep coming back to Hendrix. Hendrix was an innovator on the guitar, Janis was an innovator in a certain style… very few tried to play like Hendrix–you couldn't. Well, Janis was that. The mark of great talent, creative talent and original talent is also in its difficulty to copy that talent. And I think that's what Janis has."

GONE TOO SOON: Jimi Hendrix: 1942-1970

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jimi Hendrix

September 18th 1970. Kensington, London England. Asphyxiated on his own vomit after mixing wine with sleeping pill

But if Hendrix was a brash dresser, if his stage act was pure mayhem, he also had a distinct ambivalence toward being a rock and roll star. Onstage, he was what every mother feared when she expressed doubts about rock and roll's effect on her daughter. Offstage, he remained the same quiet, boyish, seemingly vulnerable Jimi Hendrix as always.

GONE TOO SOON: Jim Morrison: 1943-1971

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jim Morrison of the Doors

July 3rd 1971 Paris France. Morrison's body was cremated before an autopsy could be performed, but many believe he died of a heroin overdose.

Morrison's death followed, by two years to the day, the death of the Rolling Stones' guitarist, Brian Jones. And it was nine months ago that Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died. All three died at 27–as did Morrison. But where Jones', Hendrix' and Joplin's deaths were from accidental overdoses of drugs, Morrison died of "natural causes." No drugs, his associates and friends have emphasized, were connected to the death, and, in fact, Morrison was admittedly heavy on alcohol, but light, since the early days of the Doors on the Strip, on hard drugs.

GONE TOO SOON: Kurt Cobain: 1967-1994

Photo by Frank Micelotta

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana

1967 – 1994

People looked to Kurt Cobain because his songs captured what they felt before they knew they felt it. Even his struggles — with fame, with drugs, with his identity — caught the generational drama of our time. Seeing himself since his boyhood as an outcast, he was stunned — and confused, and frightened, and repulsed, and, truth be told, not entirely disappointed (no one forms a band to remain anonymous) — to find himself a star. If Cobain staggered across the stage of rock stardom, seemed more willing to play the fool than the hero and took drugs more for relief than pleasure, that was fine with his contemporaries. For people who came of age amid the greed, the designer-drug indulgence and the image-driven celebrity of the '80s, anyone who could make an easy peace with success was fatally suspect.

Gone To Soon: July 15, 1956 â?? May 18, 1980: Ian Curtis of Joy Division

Photo: O'Neill / Retna Pictures

Ian Curtis of Joy Division

1956 – 1980

Gone too Soon: December 4, 1944 â?? December 28, 1983: Dennis Wilson

Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty

Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys

1944 – 1983

GONE TOO SOON: Lisa Left Eye Lopez of TLC: 1971â??2002

hoto by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Lisa Left-Eye Lopes of TLC

1971 – 2002

Gone Too Soon: Michael Hutchence of INXS: January 22, 1960 â?? November 22, 1997

Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty

Michael Hutchence of INXS

 1960 – 1997

Gone too Soon: November 15, 1968 â?? November 13, 2004: Ol' Dirty Bastard

Photo: Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Ol’ Dirty Bastard of the Wu-Tang Clan

1968 – 2004

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.