ROCK MUSIC AND SUICIDE
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December 20, 2000 (David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061-0368, email@example.com) -- The following are just a few of the cases of suicide connected with rock music:
Del Shannon, who had the 1961 hit “Runaway,” shot himself in the head with a .22 caliber handgun in February 1990. He was 50 years old.
Bruce Cloud of Billy Ward and the Dominoes committed suicide in 1968 at age 36.
Don Drummond, leader of the Jamaican ska group The Skatalites, committed suicide in 1969 at roughly age 26 in a mental hospital. He had been in incarcerated in 1965 for murdering his live-in girlfriend.
Sims Ellison, bassist for the hard-rock band Pariah, committed suicide in 1995 at age 28 with a gun.
Matthew Fletcher of the British group Heavenly committed suicide in 1996 at age 25.
Dickie Goodman, who recorded on more than 30 labels, committed suicide in 1989 at age 55 by shooting himself at his son’s home.
Donny Hathaway, singer, songwriter and keyboardist, died in 1979 at age 33 after falling from his 15th story hotel room. Hathaway had been given to depression and some strange behavior and the coroner ruled the death a suicide.
Michael Holliday, who had several hits, including “Stairway of Love,” committed suicide in 1963 at age 34 by a drug overdose.
Doug Hopkins of the group Gin Blossoms shot himself to death in December 1993 at age 32.
Johnny Will Hunter of the Hombres shot himself to death in 1976 at age 34.
Phyllis Hyman committed suicide in 1995 at age 45 by a drug overdose.
Hubert Johnson of The Contours shot himself to death in 1981 at age 40.
Guitarist Billy Jones of The Outlaws committed suicide in 1995 at age 44.
Helmut Koellen, of the German rock band Triumvirat, committed suicide in 1977 at age 27.
Ronald Koal of The Trillionaires shot himself to death in 1993 at age 33.
British soul singer Ephraim Lewis committed suicide in 1994 at age 26 by jumping from the balcony of a Los Angeles apartment.
Richard Manuel, pianist for The Band, the backup group for Bob Dylan, committed suicide by hanging himself in 1986 at age 40.
Rob Pilatus of Milli Vanilli attempted suicide in 1991 and died in 1998 at age 32 of an overdose of alcohol and pills.
Screaming Lord Sutch (born David Edward Sutch), of the Monster Raving Loony Party, hung himself in 1999 at age 58.
Ray Smith, who had the January 1960 hit “Rockin’ Little Angel,” shot himself to death in 1979 at age 45.
John Spence, founding member of the rock band No Doubt, committed suicide in December 1987 at roughly age 18.
Doug Stegmeyer, leader of Billy Joel’s band, committed suicide in 1995 at age 43 with a gun.
Nick Traina of the punk group Link 80 committed suicide with an overdose of morphine in 1997 at age 18.
Larry Troutman of Zapp committed murder/suicide in 1999 at age 54, when he shot his brother, Roger, to death, then shot himself.
Janet Vogel, of the Skyliners, committed suicide in February 1980 at age 37.
Chuck Wagon of the punk band The Dickies committed suicide in 1981 at age 24.
Jeff Ward, touring drummer for Nine Inch Nails, committed suicide in 1993 at age 30 of carbon-monoxide poisoning. At the time of his death, he was the drummer for Low Pop Suicide.
Rozz Williams, singer with the gothic rock group Christian Death, hanged himself in 1998 at age 34.
Three members of the British rock group Badfinger have committed suicide. Pete Ham, leader and chief songwriter of the group, hanged himself in 1975 when he was 27 years old. Graham Bond, one of the pioneers of jazz-rock in Britain, was addicted to drugs and alcohol and was heavily involved in the occult. He was often “abusive, cruel, and self-destructive” (Unknown Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll, p. 28). He claimed to be the son of Satanist Aleister Crowley. Together with his first wife, Diane Stewart, he formed a band called Holy Magick, after Crowley’s sorcery. He was incarcerated briefly in a mental hospital. A biography by Harry Shapiro, The Mighty Shadow, depicts Bond at that point in his life as characterized by wild mood swings and obsessed with the occult. He sexually abused his stepdaughter. In May 1974, he committed suicide by throwing himself under the wheels of a London underground train at the Finsbury Park Station. He was 37 years old. Badfinger guitarist Tony Evans hanged himself at age 36.
Bobby Bloom, who sang the 1970 hit “Montego Bay,” died in 1974 at age 28 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Both Eric Faulkner and Alan Longmuir of the Bay City Rollers have attempted suicide.
Billy MacKenzie, vocalist for the rock group Associates, died in January 1997 at age 39 by suicide. He took an overdose of drugs.
Al Glitter (real name Paul Gadd), who had many hits in the 1970s, selling 18 million records at the height of his career, tried to commit suicide two times.
Rory Storme of the Hurricanes, the group Ringo Starr played in before joining the Beatles, died in 1974 of an overdose of sleeping pills. “He was found dead in his home with his head in the oven, the result of a suicide pact with his mother, whose body was discovered nearby” (Why Knock Rock, p. 130).
The group Hüsker Dü disbanded after their manager, David Savoy, killed himself in 1987 at roughly age 27.
Michael Hutchence, lead singer for INXS, committed suicide by hanging in 1997.
Vincent Crane committed suicide in February 1989 at age 45 by overdosing on sleeping pills.
Nick Drake, influential songwriter and recording artist whose songs have been recorded by Elton John and many others, suffered severe depression much of his life. After the production of his third album in 1972, he became more withdrawn than ever and spent time in a psychiatric facility. He began taking anti-depression medication in 1973, and in November 1974, he committed suicide by an overdose of this drug.
Ian Curtis, vocalist for Joy Division, died in 1980 at age 25, of suicide by hanging.
Kesier of the heavy metal band Krokus committed suicide in 1986 at roughly age 31
Joe Meek, rock producer called by The All Music Guide to Rock “an inimitable figure of early British rock ‘n’ roll,” shot his landlady to death before turning the shotgun on himself in February 1966 at age 33. Though the 1962 hit song “Telstar” made a fortune, Meek died penniless (One Hit Wonders, p. 144). The murder-suicide occurred after police questioned Meek about the dismembered body of a homosexual acquaintance that had been found packed in two suitcases in a hedgerow. Meek was a homosexual who had been arrested for lewd acts in a public toilet. “His mother had wanted a girl, gave him dolls to play with and dresses to wear” (Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music). “Meek’s tantrums were the stuff of legend—Dangerfield remembers him throwing telephones at musicians with whom he was displeased, and Lawrence recalls how he’d go into fits and lock the doors to his studio for a week or so” (Unknown Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll, p. 148).
Thomas Wayne Perkins (1940-1971), died in 1971 at age 31 when he drove his automobile across four lanes of traffic, over a median, and slammed into an oncoming car. There is evidence that he committed suicide. “His behavior had grown more and more erratic over the years.” Before he died he confessed to a friend that he had attempted suicide at least once before when he parked his car across both lanes of an interstate highway at night and turned off his lights. The first person on the scene was a highway patrolman who arrested him and ordered a psychiatric evaluation (Scotty Moore, That’s Alright, Elvis, p. 219).
Wendy O. Williams, lead of The Plasmatics, died in April 1998 at age 48 of a self-inflicted shotgun wound.
Peter Bellamy, founding member of Young Tradition, committed suicide in 1991 at age 47.
Pete Meaden, manager for the Who, died in 1978 of an overdose of barbiturates. The death was ruled a suicide.
Danny Rapp, lead vocalist for Danny and the Juniors, who wrote the famous 1958 rock song “At the Hop,” committed suicide with a gun in 1983 at age 41.
Paul Williams, vocalist with The Temptations, died in 1973 at age 34 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In October 1996 at age 30, Christopher Acland of Lush committed suicide by hanging himself in his parents’ barn.
Kurt Cobain, leader of Nirvana, blasted himself in the head with a shotgun in a room above his garage in April 1994, at age 27. His body was not found until three days later. Cobain’s first band was called Fecal Matter. He decorated his first apartment with blood-splattered baby dolls hanging by their necks and spray-painted his neighborhood with the words “ABORT CHRIST,” “GOD IS GAY,” and “HOMO SEX RULES.” There was garbage and rotting food all over his Seattle house. “When the Cobains tried to hire some help, the maid walked into their house, then ran out screaming, ‘Satan lives here!’” (Moser, Rock Stars, p. 43).
Phil Ochs, well-known folk-rock singer/songwriter and friend of Bob Dylan, hung himself in April l976 at age 35. He had long been plagued by severe alcohol and psychological problems.
Pennywise bassist Jason Thirsk shot himself to death in August 1996. The band insisted he shot himself accidentally, but the police ruled it a suicide. He was roughly age 27.
Yogi Hortin, session drummer for the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, and others, killed himself in 1987 at age 37 by jumping to his death from the 17th floor window of a hotel in New York City.
Jim Ellison of the punk band Material Issue committed suicide in 1996 at age 32 by carbon monoxide poisoning in a closed garage.
Tommy Boyce, one of the top rock songwriters of the ‘60s who co-wrote the Monkees’ theme song as well as their hit “Last Train to Clarksville,” shot himself to death in 1997 at age 52.