5. Elvis Presley- The King Died in August of 1977. He first hit the charts with Heartbreak Hotel in 1956. His fame was meteoric for 4 years until he was drafted into the Army and stationed in Germany. During which time Hollywood was left to fill the vacuum. After 2 years of serving his country Elvis came home to the pre-Beatlemania years. Wankers like Fabian and Pat Boon were trying to fill Presley’s shoes. The King of Rock was being managed by colonel Tom Parker who urged Elvis to sign a lucrative 10 year movie contract with Paramount pictures. Many ask: “Why did Elvis not tour the world”? Simple! Colonel Tom Parker was afraid of flying. So Elvis, who had a tremendously loyal fan base even when he weighed 300 pounds and was singing mediocre songs in B movies. He did 27 Movies and 2 televised full length concerts. Elvis had been on a cornucopia of drugs from the time he was on the Ed Sullivan show. In the military, Elvis reportedly (according to Pricilla Presley) was on stimulants to keep him sharp on duty, and barbiturates to allow him to rest. Music was making various turns and tangents that led to dead ends while The Beatles were singing Sargent Peppers; Elvis was singing Viva Las Vegas.
Elvis died at the age of 42.
4. Buddy (Holley)Holly – The youngest on this list, Buddy along with Ritchie “Valenzuela” Valens and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash in an Iowa farm field after playing the winter dance party at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake Iowa. Holly was as important as Elvis was to Rock and Roll music. Holly was the first musician who wrote, produced, and played the music on his records breaking the Hollywood protocol of a separate writer, a producer who told the band what and how to play, and the musicians, who did what they were told.
Holly died at the age of 22.
3. Stevie Ray Vaughan – Stevie Ray or “SRV” was a white blues guitarist that played electric blues in the style of black cultural players. Although he cut his teeth on another black guitarist, he later became almost obsessed with Albert King. SRV was responsible for a Blues revival in the late 80s when hair bands and metal bands were playing Enter Sandman, SRV was playing blues standards like “Boot Hill”. As is common with most great musicians, SRV struggled with cocaine and alcohol until he suffered a gastric ulcer which forced him into rehab. In August of 1990 SRV’s helicopter crashed into a mountain after playing a show The Alpine Music Theatre in East Troy Wisconsin.
Stevie Ray Vaughn died at the age of 35.
2. Jimi Hendrix – The covert conservative guitarist is one of 3 guitarists that changed the standard of Rock and Roll music. Hendrix played the electric blues with a loud and fast distorted sound. Jimi was amongst the first to experiment with sound effects. Jimi was also amongst the first group of young musicians that let excess lead to their demise. (Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, etc…) SRV was initially influenced by Jimi Hendrix. The English blues musicians who were known as guitars gods saw Jimi and realized that they were just flesh and blood mortals. Like a meteor, like Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix came and went like a rumor leaving one memorable album “Are you Experienced” that would be the bench mark for all new guitar players to aim for.
Jimi was found dead at the age of 27.
1.Freddie Mercury – Perhaps the greatest vocalist of our time. Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar in September of 1946, Mercury was the front man of one of Rock Music’s greatest bands ever. Modern music critics compare Freddie Mercury’s voice with those of the great tenors such as Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Before his death, Freddie found a new niche (a bit too late) in Opera music. He released an Album with Opera singer Montserrat Caballé called Barcelona in celebration of the Olympics. Sadly, the great vocalist was amongst the first well known celebrities to die of a new disease in the 80s called HIV or the Human immuno-deficiency Virus also called AIDs. Freddie died a day after a press release stating he was battling the disease.
Freddie Mercury was 45