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It’s always sad when a person passes away too soon. Unfortunately, the music industry is no stranger to this tragedy, losing talent in nearly every category, from rap to country, way before their time.
If you want to learn more about some of the top talents that have died too soon, keep reading. We’ll dive into some of the best artists who died tragically at the height of their careers, forever leaving their legacy in song.
1. John Denver
John Denver is a tragic part to our list of singers who died too soon, passing away in a plane crash on October 12th, 1997, in Monterey Bay, California. The plane was an experimental two-seater, and Denver was the only one inside when he ran out of fuel and plummeted into the water.
Denver was 53 when he died. Though he’d had a history of alcohol issues, there was none in his system at the time of the crash.
2. Jim Morrison
As the lead singer of The Doors, music icon Jim Morrison was on a path to musical success from a young age. Unfortunately, Morrison passed away unexpectedly in Paris, France, at 27.
Speculation surrounds his death – some say it was heart failure, others a heroin overdose, but honestly, it’s a mystery we will likely never solve.
3. Marvin Gaye
The talented Marvin Gaye was a singer and songwriter who shaped Motown as we know it, landing a title as the “Prince of Soul.” Gaye was tragically shot and killed on April 1, 1984, after a spat with his dad at a family gathering.
After Gaye’s death, it was proven that his father had a severe brain tumor which is what caused his violent and unexpected behavior.
4. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston was a powerhouse of a voice – who could ever forget those incredible notes she hit in “I Will Always Love You”? In her short time in the spotlight, Houston became one of the best-selling artists of all time.
Houston suddenly passed away on February 11, 2012, after a drug-related accidental drowning in her bathtub.
Related: Whitney Houston’s Net Worth
Aaliyah helped give a name to what we now know as the contemporary hip-hop and R&B scene, landing the nickname the “Queen of Urban Pop.” The singer and actress was only 22 when she died on August 25, 2001, in a plane crash over the Bahamas.
It was revealed that the plane was wildly overloaded, which led to its crash on the runway.
6. Tupac Shakur
Tupac Shakur is one of the most influential and successful rappers of all time, selling more than 75 million albums with his detailed lyrics and hypnotic tone. Tragically, on September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. He died six days later at the age of 25.
Related: 20 Rappers Who Got Shot
7. Karen Carpenter
Karen Carpenter is next on our list of singers who died too soon, a distinctive talent who could drum and sing in a three-octave contralto range. Unfortunately, Carpenter suffered from anorexia and died from anorexia-related heart complications at 32 on February 4, 1983.
8. Chester Bennington
It shocked the world when Chester Bennington, lead vocalist of Linkin Park, was reported dead at just 41 years old. The singer took his life at his home in Palos Verdes Estates, California, on July 20, 2017.
9. Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain was widely famous as the co-founder and primary songwriter of the band Nirvana. He became nearly as well-known in death, passing away suddenly at the age of 27 from a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head on April 8, 1994.
Related: 18 Best Nirvana Songs
10. Bob Marley
Jamaican singer and musician Bob Marley is well-known for his iconic tone and laid-back music style. He was one of the pioneers of reggae and fused ska and rocksteady into his art.
Marley passed away from a rare case of acral lentiginous melanoma on May 11, 1981, at 36.
11. Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury was quite the character, dazzling audiences as the energetic lead singer of the worldwide phenomenon Queen. His flamboyant personality and range of four octaves led him to be known as one of the best rock singers of all time.
Tragically, Mercury died at 45 years old from HIV/AIDS.
Related: 21 Best Gay Singers of All Time
12. Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse is another on our list of singers who died too soon, leaving this earth at 27 after an experience with alcohol poisoning. The powerhouse was ranked as one of the greatest women in music before her death and stunned the world with tragically prophetic songs like “Rehab.”
Related: What is the 27 Club?
Selena Quintanilla-Perez was the “Queen of Tejano Music,” recognized for her additions to both the music and fashion world. Her life was cut short on March 31, 1995, when she was shot and killed by a former fan club manager. She was only 23 and is one of the most famous singers who died too soon, and many of her fans still mourn her today.
14. Mac Miller
Mac Miller was an up-and-coming rapper at the height of his career when he passed away at 26 from an overdose of cocaine, fentanyl, and alcohol. The rapper and record producer started his career in 2007 when he was only 15.
Related: How Did Mac Miller Die?
15. Jimi Hendrix
American guitarist and singer Jimi Hendrix only had a career that lasted four years, but in that time, he managed to secure his legacy as one of the best electric guitarists on the planet. Hendrix was only 27 when he died of a barbiturate overdose on September 18, 1970.
Related: 15 Best Jimi Hendrix Songs
16. Hank Williams
Also on our list of singers who died too soon is country singer Hank Williams. The singer and songwriter is one of the most influential of the 20th century, known for his cowboy look and iconic voice.
Tragically, Williams was only 29 when he died of a heart attack due to a suspected combination of alcohol, morphine, and chloral hydrate.
17. John Lennon
John Lennon was a singer, songwriter, musician, artist, activist, and more, with work spanning from his time with the Beatles to moments as a film creator and beyond. Lennon was assassinated on December 8th, 1980, after Mark David Chapman shot the singer in the archway of his New York home, the Dakota.
Related: 15 Singers Who Were Adopted
18. Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G. is next on our list of singers who died too soon. The influential rapper was only 24 when he died from wounds inflicted in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997. Though his life was cut short, he is still considered one of the greatest rappers ever.
19. Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin is one of the most well-known rockers of her time, dazzling with her stage presence and numbers like “Piece of My Heart.” Joplin died at 27 after a heroin overdose, though some still speculate over the cause of her passing.
20. Elvis Presley
The “King of Rock and Roll” was only 42 when he died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Graceland on August 16, 1977. By the time Elvis Presley passed, the legend had garnered millions of fans and became more than a music figure – he became an icon of the culture.
Avicii was only 28 years old and just beginning to take over the EDM scene when he died in April 2018. Famous for his song “Wake Me Up,” the DJ experienced several mental and physical health issues, one of which led to his suicide in 2018.
22. Buddy Holly
Last on our list of singers who died too soon is legend Buddy Holly. The 50s pioneer of rock and roll is unmistakable, gracing the rock world with songs like “True Love Ways” and “Everyday.”
Holly died at 22 in a plane crash with 17-year-old musical genius Ritchie Valens after the plane took off in a snowstorm.
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