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 Jazz and Death: Medical Profiles of Jazz Greats by Frederick J. Spencer, MD

 

Florence Ballard: Age 33
The Supremes
(b. 30 June 1942, Detroit, Michigan, USA, d. 22 February 1976).
In her teens, Ballard formed the vocal group the Primettes with school friends Mary Wilson and Betty Travis. Diana Ross completed the line-up in 1960.  Unhappy with her diminishing role in the Supremes, she repeatedly complained to Gordy and his executives, and the resulting friction led to her being ousted from the group in 1967.  By the early '70s, Florence was living in extreme poverty in a Detroit housing project. Her reliance on a lethal cocktail of alcohol and diet pills had weakened her health, and in February 1976 her tragic career ended when she suffered a cardiac arrest.

John Belushi: Age 33
The Blues Brothers
(b. 24 January 1949, Chicago, Illinois, USA. d. 5 March 1982,
8221 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood: The Chateau Marmont hotel, Bungalow #2, Los Angeles, CA, USA).
Comedian/actor/singer John Belushi died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine on March 5,1982, at the age of 33.  Belushi had been a regular on TV's "Saturday Night Live," then went on to star in movies such as "Animal House" and "The Blues Brothers," which featured his singing.

Bix Beiderbecke: Age 28
(b. Leon Bix Beiderbecke, 10 March 1903, Davenport, Iowa,  d. 6 August 1931 New York)
Bix Beiderbecke was one of the greatest jazz musicians of the 1920s. His colorful life, quick rise and fall, and eventual status as a martyr made him a legend even before he died, and he has long stood as proof that not all the innovators in jazz history were black. Possessor of a beautiful, distinctive tone and a strikingly original improvising style, Beiderbecke's only competitor among cornetists in the '20s was Louis Armstrong but (due to their different sounds and styles) one really could not compare them.  ~
by Scott Yanow.  Troubles led him to take refuge in drink and this swiftly degenerated into chronic alcoholism. One of the legends of jazz, a role he would doubtless have found wryly amusing had he lived to know of it. When he died in August 1931, Beiderbecke was still only 28-years-old.
 
Bunny Berigan: Age 33
(b. Rowland Bernart Berigan, 2 November 1908, Hilbert, Calumet, Wisconsin, USA, d. 2 June 1942).
Personally, Bunny was an alcoholic who worked, played and drank himself to death. But his talent was evident in everything he did musically. Here's what Benny Goodman said in 1981 (from the copyrighted liner notes from "The Pied Piper," ©1995 BMG Music, written by Richard M. Sudhalter):
"It was like a bolt of electricity running through the whole band. He just lifted the whole thing. You can explain it in terms of his tone, his range, musicianship, great ideas. Whatever you want, it's all of that - and none of it. It's a God-given thing."

Big Maybelle: Age 51
(b. Mabel Louise Smith, 1 May c.1920, Jackson, TN,  d. 23 January 1972).
Maybelle's career was marred by frequent drug problems which contributed to her early death in Cleveland Ohio in January 1972.
 
Mike Bloomfield: Age 36
(b. 28 July 1944, Chicago, Illinois, USA d. 15 February 1981).
For many, both critics and fans, Bloomfield was the finest white blues guitarist America has so far produced. A second burst of activity occurred shortly before his tragic death when another three album's worth of material was recorded. Bloomfield was found dead in his car from a suspected accidental drug overdose, a sad end to a ‘star’ who had constantly avoided stardom in order to maintain his own integrity.
 
Tommy Bolin: Age 25
James Gang/Deep Purple
(b. 1 August 1951, Sioux City, Iowa, USA, d. 4 December 1976, Miami, Florida).
Unable to resist temptation Bolin went on a binge. He recovered in time for their show at the Jai Alai Fronton Hall on December 3rd, where they were supporting Jeff Beck. The set went down a storm with a lengthy version of "Post Toastie" climaxing the performance. Backstage Bolin and Beck posed for a picture after which Tommy returned to his Miami Beach hotel with his girlfriend. Late that night, he passed out; fearful of adverse publicity no doctor was called and, as he seemed to come round, roadies put him back to bed. Around 8 am the following day, Saturday, December 4th, his girlfriend saw that he was looking much worse and finally an ambulance was called, but Bolin died before it arrived. ~Text written by Simon Robinson. Transcribed by Bill Jones in August 1994
Link1  Link2  Link3

Paul Butterfield: Age 44
(BORN: December 17, 1942, Chicago, IL; DIED: May 4, 1987, Hollywood, CA)
Paul Butterfield was a white harmonica player from the south side of Chicago. Paul Butterfield was considered the premier harmonica player of his time. In 1965 "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band" was released and remains a classic to this day. Caught  up in sixties flower-power, subsequent releases strayed from the blues format and lacked the power and intensity of their debut  album. The band also appeared at Woodstock, and their song "Love March" is featured on the soundtrack album. His death on May 4th, 1987 at the age of 44 was attributed to alcohol and drug abuse. Footnote~DeathRock

Leroy Carr: Age 30
(b. 27 March 1905, Nashville, Tennessee, d. 29 April 1935).
Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell were arguably the most popular and influential male blues artists from 1928 until Carr's death in 1935. In spite of this, the duo is quite underrated today, for several reasons. One, obviously, is that neither survived to be seen by the folk audiences of the sixties, though Blackwell almost made it. Another is that, unlike Robert Johnson, neither had cultivated an image which would lead to a legend surrounding them. Blackwell did not actively seek the limelight, and Carr's laidback songs and "get this man a beer" attitude at a houseparty didn't lend them-selves to such an image. A third and far less obvious reason is that Carr and Blackwell did not live in Chicago.  Carr died due to complications of his alcoholism.~Tbone

Steve Clark: Age 30
Def Leppard
(b. 23 April 1960, Sheffield, England, d. 8 January 1991, London, England).
As Def Leppard began work on their belated follow-up to HYSTERIA, Clark was found dead in his London flat after consuming a mixture of drugs and alcohol. // "According to the report, Clark fell asleep on a sofa after drinking heavily in a local pub with a friend. The coroner disclosed that the alcohol level in Clark's blood was three times the British legal limit for driving. Clark had battled alcoholism for several years and had undergone clinical treatment during the past year and a half. The autopsy revealed traces of Valium and morphine along with a fatal quantity of codein. Clark had been taking painkillers as a result of a back injury. Although some British newspapers reported that traces of heroin had been found as well, the coroner found no evidence of the drug." ~David Fricke, Rolling Stone Magazine
 
Miles Davis: Age 65
(b. 26 May 1926, Alton, Illinois, d. 28  Sept  1991, CA)
"He was known to the general public primarily as a trumpet player. However, in the world of music he had a great deal of influence not only as a innovative bandleader but also as a composer. His music and style was important in the development of improvisational techniques incorporating modes rather than standard chord changes. Miles experiments with modal playing reached its apotheosis in 1959 with his recording of Kind of Blue."~MilesDavis.Com   In 1975, after a succession of personal upheavals including a car crash, further drug problems, a shooting incident, more police harassment and eventual arrest, Miles, not surprisingly, retired. During this time he became seriously ill, and it was generally felt that he would never play again. As unpredictable as ever, Davis returned six years later healthy and fit with the comeback album, THE MAN WITH THE HORN.  Following further bouts of ill health Miles was admitted to hospital in California and died in September 1991.

Pete Farndon: Age 30
The Pretenders
(b. 2 June 1952, Hereford, England, d. 14 April 1983).
 Pete Farndon was found dead in his bath from a drug overdose.

Jerry Garcia: Age 53
The Grateful Dead
(Born: 1 Aug 1942 in San Francisco, CA, Died: 9 Aug  1995 in San Francisco, CA)
Jerry Garcia was the lead guitarist, vocalist, and spokesman for the seminal '60s rock & roll band the Grateful Dead. Throughout his career, he led the Dead through numerous changes, becoming one of the most famous figures in the history of rock & roll. Simultaneously, Garcia pursued an eclectic array of side projects, ranging from the bluegrass group Old & In the Way to his folky solo recordings. Garcia stayed active as a member of the Grateful Dead and as a solo performer until his death in 1995 ... Garcia's solo efforts slowed in the early '80s, as he battled heroin addiction and diabetes.  After the Grateful Dead scored their first hit album in 1987 with In the Dark, Garcia pursued a number of solo projects, including several acoustic duet records with David Grisman and a handful of live tours and albums with the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band. For the first half of the '90s, Garcia concentrated on Grateful Dead tours and albums, as the band confirmed their status as one of the most popular concert acts in America. However, the guitarist slowly sank back into heroin addiction. Late in the summer of 1995, he entered Serenity Knolls, a drug rehabilitation facility in Forest Knolls, CA. While he was attempting to recover, Garcia died in his sleep of a heart attack on August 9, 1995. Several months after his death, the Grateful Dead announced their disbandment. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide

Judy Garland: Age: 47
(B.  Jun 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, MN D.  Jun 22, 1969, London, England)
Like so many of Hollywood's most enduring icons, Judy Garland was also among the industry's most tragic figures. An entertainer from virtually infancy onward, she lived and died in  the intense glare of the spotlight, leaving behind a legacy encompassing not only classic movies and musical   performances but also a catalogue of personal setbacks and career disasters truly horrifying in their sheer number and scope...On June 22 Garland was found dead in her London apartment of an apparently accidental overdose of barbiturates; she was 47 years old.~Jason Ankeny, All-Music Guide

Lowell George: Age 34
Little Feat
(b. 13 April 1945, Hollywood, California, USA, d. 29 June 1979).
As Little Feat was disbanding in late 1978, their lead guitarist/songwriter Lowell George recorded a solo album, Thanks I'll Eat It Here, that sounded as loose and funky as the band in their prime. After its release the following year, he set out on tour to support the album*...He left behind a body of gritty, eclectic, and funky rock & roll. On the first five Little Feat albums, his songwriting and instrumental talents are more  apparent than on his solo effort, yet that doesn't detract from the record's pleasures. -- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide
*During the solo concert tour George had a heart attack and died; years of abuse had taken their toll.
 
Andy Gibb: Age 30
(Bee Gees)
(b. 5 March 1958, Manchester, England, d. 10 March 1988, Oxford, England).
Following the international success of his three elder brothers in the Bee Gees, Andy appeared as a star in his own right in 1977.  The pressure of living with the reputation of his superstar brothers, coupled with immense wealth and a hedonistic bent, brought personal problems and he became alarming reliant upon cocaine. Within months of his brothers autumnal and highly successful reunion in the late '80s, tragedy struck when the 30-year-old singer died of an inflammatory heart virus at his home.

Billie Holiday: Age 44
(Eleanora Harris, 7 April 1915, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. d. 17 July 1959).
Billie Holiday's grandfather was one of 17 children of a black Virginia slave and a white Irish plantation owner. Her mother was only 13 when she was born. April 7, 1915, in Baltimore. Her given name was Eleanora Fagan Gough. Her father, Clarence Holiday, was a guitar/banjo player in Fletcher Henderson's band...After being signed by Columbia Records' John Hammond in 1933 for her debut record (accompanied by members of Benny Goodman's studio band), Holiday went on to work with Teddy Wilson, Buck Clayton and Lester Young, who crowned her with the nickname Lady Day. She also toured with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1937 and Artie Shaw in 1938..."I feel like I am playing a horn. I try to improvise like Les Young, like Louis Armstrong, or someone else I admire. What comes out is what I feel..." Holiday's drug addiction was a problem for her from the beginning of her career. She was beautiful and successful, but by the early forties, the decline had begun. Holiday was using heroin, injecting it every day...Billie continued to use. She was busted again in 1956. At this point she was addicted to alcohol as well as heroin... In July 1959 she collapsed, and was taken to the hospital. While there, now on her death bed, she was again arrested for heroin possession. She died on July 17, 1959. ~HeroinTimes: Billie Holiday, Triumph and Tragedy by Ron Miller

James Honeyman-Scott: Age 25
Pretenders
(b. 1956, Hereford, England, d. 16 June 1982, London, England).
Weakened by a detoxification course for drug addiction, his death in June 1982 occurred shortly after snorting cocaine at a London party. Jim Honeyman-Scott died in his sleep at the home of a friend. His death was due to heart failure caused by cocaine intolerance. The group found a replacement in Robert McIntosh, a Honeyman-Scott sound-alike.

Shannon Hoon: Age 28
Blind Melon
Blind Melon released their second album, Soup, late in the summer of 1995. The album received better reviews than its predecessor, yet it failed to produce a hit single. The group launched an extensive tour that fall to promote Soup that turned out to be ill-fated. Shannon Hoon was found dead on the band's tour bus in New Orleans on Saturday October 21, 1995 of a reported drug overdose; he was 28 years old.  ~AMG ~Hoon's tragic death in New Orleans (October "95) [was] from an accidental cocaine overdose. ~Blind-Melon .com

Elmo Hope: Age 43
(Born: June 27, 1923 -- Died: May 19, 1967)
St. Elmo Sylvester Hope was born in New York on June 27, 1923. He began piano studies at age seven and, by 1938, was winning medals for solo recitals. He and his boyhood friend, Bud Powell, spent time together listening to Bach, and playing for each other...[
"At the very instant when Monk and Powell had lost some of their creative fire, Elmo Hope . . . seemed destined to assume a place among the very finest pianists in jazz history, but he had little chance to build on his achievements. Instead, he left only a few glimpses with which we may conjure what a full and secure career might have offered." ~David H. Rosenthal]...It was obvious that Hope was caught up in the pursuit of the "horse" that many musicians were riding at the time...In 1967 Elmo was hospitalized with pneumonia for several weeks and while recuperating, succumbed to an apparent heart attack. ~Ira Gitler

Kenny Kirkland: Age 43
Sting, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Kenny Garrett
(b. 28 Sept 1955, Brooklyn, NY, d. 12? Nov 1998, Queens, NY)
Kenny Kirkland, who gained fans and critical raves the world over from his dazzling piano performances with such artists as Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Garrett and Sting,  was found dead in his Queens, New York apartment the morning of Nov. 13. He was 43. The 105th Precinct in Queens received a call at around 9:00 PM Nov. 12  from neighbors reporting "a foul odor." Police gained entry to Kirkland's apartment in Queens' Springfield Gardens section shortly after 2:00 AM on Nov. 13 and discovered his body.  According to a report in the New York Daily News, police found drug paraphernalia at the scene. Kirkland's friends and colleagues were said to have been long concerned with his reputed substance abuse and poor health.

Phil Lynott: Age 34
Thin Lizzy
(b. 20 August 1951, Dublin, Eire, d. 4 January 1986).
As the band's creative force, Lynott was a  more insightful and intelligent writer than many of his ilk, preferring slice-of-life working-class dramas  of love and hate influenced by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and virtually all of the Irish literary  tradition. Also, as a black man, Lynott was an anomaly in the nearly all-White world of hard rock,  and as such imbued much of his work with a sense of alienation; he was the outsider, the romantic  guy from the other side of the tracks, a self-styled poet of the lovelorn and downtrodden.  -- John Dougan, All-Music Guide In 1986, he suffered a drug overdose and, following a week in a coma, died of heart failure, exacerbated by pneumonia.

Jimmy McCulloch: Age 26
(born Glasgow, Scotland on June 4, 1953; died London, on Sept. 27, 1979)
Jimmy McCulloch was a  guitarist for Thunderclap Newman, John Mayall Band, Stone the Crows, and Wings.  He died of a mixture of morphine, alcohol and marijuana.

Clyde McPhatter: Age 39
Drifters
(b. Clyde Lensley McPhatter, 15 November 1932, Durham, North Carolina; d. 13 June 1972, New York).
For three years, McPhatter was the lead singer in the seminal R&B vocal group Billy Ward And His Dominoes. He left in 1953 to form The Drifters, whose early releases were enhanced by the singer's emotional, gospel-drenched delivery. In 1954 McPhatter was drafted into the US Army, where he entertained fellow servicemen. Such work prompted a solo career, and the vibrant "Seven Days" (1956) was followed by several other superb performances, many of which, including "Treasure Of Love", "Without Love (There Is Nothing)" and "A Lover's Question", became R&B standards. A hugely influential figure, McPhatter inspired a generation of singers...A 1970 album, on Decca, WELCOME HOME, was his last recording. McPhatter, one of R&B's finest voices, died from a heart attack as a result of alcohol abuse in 1972. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987. ~muze

Country Dick Montana: Age 40
(b. Carmel, CA, in 1955, d. November 8, 1995, in British Columbia, Canada)
Beat Farmers
Country Dick was more than some guy who'd fall off stage and drench you in his beer and sweat. Dick was also a visionary who predicted the current wave of Vegas chic long before Dean Martin became hip again, as well as being a twisted version of a high school cheerleader whose infectious optimism and sincere passion for music made him a continual inspiration of the California and national music scenes. He was a brave and tough mother, not only in how he faced some of the rowdiest audiences to walk in to a bar room, but also how he fought cancer the last few years. Then again, strange as it sounds, Dick was one of the sweetest guys I ever knew. Several years ago, at maybe the lowest point in my life, Dick was one of three people who stopped me from quitting music out of depression and frustration. I will always owe him for that and I will always miss him. Adios compadre. -Dave Alvin.   
On a cold November night in 1995, Country Dick Montana was on-stage at the Long Horn bar, doing what he loved most, performing, when he collapsed and died. He was only 40 years old, and his solo career was barely out of the starting gate. He had finished recording his excellent solo debut album only weeks before his sudden death.~AMG

Keith Moon: Age 31
The Who
(b. 23 August 1947, Wembley, London, England, d. 7 September 1978).
As the unpredictable, madcap drummer in the Who, Keith Moon cultivated a reputation as one of rock's great characters. Tales of destruction were legendary, but Moon was now increasingly debilitated by drug and alcohol abuse, and his professional life inevitably suffered. Indeed Music Must Change, a track on WHO ARE YOU (1978), was left without a drum track when he was unable to hold the required beat   Sadly, the album was to be the last to feature Moon.  The cause of death, according to the death certificate, was an overdosage of Chlormethiazole (Heminevrin), self administered but with no evidence of intention. An open vedict was recorded. He was certified dead on arrrival at the Middlesex Hospital, Westminster but was found at his flat in Curzon Place, Mayfair.
 
John Panozzo: Age 47
Styx
(b.  20 Sept. 1948, d. July 16, 1996 Chicago, IL)
Drummer and co-founder of the band, died at his home in Chicago, IL at the age of 47. The cause of death was ruptured blood vessels resulting from a hemorrage.  PANOZZO along with twin brother, bassist Chuck Panozzo, and vocalist/keyboardist Dennis DeYoung -- formed the nucleus of the band which eventually would become known as STYX, the band that would become the first to have four consecutive triple-platinum albums, making them one of the most popular groups in rock 'n' roll history. JOHN PANOZZO was unable to join the band on 1996  77-date U.S. tour due to health reasons.
 
Charlie Parker: Age 34
(August 1920, Kansas City, Kansas, USA, d. 12 March 1955).
Charlie Parker was black music's first existential hero. There were problems. However, Parker's heroin-related health problems came to a head following the notorious Loverman session of July 1946 when, after setting his hotel-room on fire, the saxophonist was incarcerated in the psychiatric wing of the LA County Jail and then spent six months in a rehabilitation centre (commemorated in Relaxin' At Camarillo’, 1947).  His health had continued to give him problems: ulcers and cirrhosis of the liver. His last public appearance was on 4 March 1955, at Birdland, the club named after him: it was a fiasco —Parker and pianist Bud Powell rowed onstage, the latter storming off followed shortly by bassist Charles Mingus. Disillusioned, obese and racked by illness, Parker died eight days later in the hotel suite of Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, a wealthy aristocrat and stalwart bebop fan.

Gram Parsons: Age 26
Flying Burrito Brothers
(b.  Ingram Cecil Connor III, 5 November 1946, Winter Haven, FL, d. Joshua Tree, CA 19 September 1973).
"During the funeral ceremony for Gram's close friend Clarence White, Gram was overheard stating that when he died, rather than being buried in the ground, he would like to be taken out to The Joshua Tree desert of southern California and burned. After Gram died in The Joshua Tree Inn, his body was taken to the Los Angeles International Airport in preparation for being flown to Louisiana for burial. Gram's road manager Phil Kaufman and a friend, Michael Martin, got very intoxicated, borrowed a broken down hearse and drove to LAX to retrieve the body. When they arrived, they told the shipping clerk that Gram's remains were to be sent out of another airport, flashed some bogus paperwork and falsely signed for the body. After crashing into a wall and almost being arrested, Phil, Michael and Gram drove back to The Joshua Tree Desert, stopping only to buy more beer and a container of gasoline. They took Gram's remains into the desert, poured gasoline inside the coffin and set him ablaze. The two were arrested several days later and fined $700.00 for stealing and burning the COFFIN (it was is not against the law to steal a dead body). Gram's partially burned remains were finally laid to rest in a modest cemetery near New Orleans, LA. Gram's death in 1973 as a result of ‘drug toxicity’ emphasized its air of poignancy, and the mysterious theft of his body after the funeral, whereupon his road manager, Philip Kaufman cremated the body in the desert, carrying out Gram's wishes, added to the singer's legend." ~ http://www.gramparsons.com/  Gram's death in 1973 as a result of  "drug toxicity."

Art Pepper: Age 56
(Born: 9/1/1925 in Gardena, CA ;Died: 6/1/1982 in Panorama City, CA)
Pepper was undeniably a West Coast jazzman. As a native of Gardena, California, he had more claim to the label than many Eastern and Midwest players who came to the Los Angeles area and played in the less overtly emotional manner that came to define the style. His solo approach was always passionate, from early recordings made with Stan Kenton's orchestra during his years with the band (1943 and 1946-52) and in jam sessions on L.A.'s Central Avenue. Records and club work with Shorty Rogers and his Giants beginning in 1951 provided more room for his solo skills, and by 1952 he began cutting more intimate and open quartet and quintet sessions under his own name. By this time he had already developed a dependence on alcohol, pills, and heroin that led to an erratic lifestyle and (in 1952) the first of several arrests and incarcerations. For the remainder of the decade, Pepper alternated stretches in what he would later refer to as "la pinta" (the joint) with bursts of recording activity.           more: http://www.fantasyjazz.com/html/pepper_bio.html

Esther Phillips: Age 48
AKA born: Esther Mae Jones
(Born Dec 23, 1935 in Galveston, TX; Died Aug 7, 1984 in Carson, CA)
Esther Phillips was perhaps too versatile for her own good, at least commercially speaking; while she was adept at singing blues, early R&B, gritty soul, jazz, straight-up pop, disco, and even country, her record companies often lacked a clear idea of how to market her, which prevented her from reaching as wide an audience as she otherwise might have. An acquired taste for some, Phillips' voice had an idiosyncratic, nasal quality that often earned comparisons to Nina Simone, although she herself counted Dinah Washington as a chief inspiration. Phillips' career began when she was very young and by some accounts, she was already battling drug addiction during her teenage years; whenever her problems took root, the lasting impact on her health claimed her life before the age of 50...Her last R&B chart single was 1983's "Turn Me Out," a one-off for the small Winning label; unfortunately, her health soon began to fail, the culmination of her previous years of addiction combined with a more recent flirtation with the bottle. Phillips died in Los Angeles on August 7, 1984, of liver and kidney failure. ~ Steve Huey

Elvis Aron Presley: Age 42

(b. 8 January 1935, Tupelo, Mississippi; d. 16 August 1977, Memphis, TN).
The most celebrated popular music phenomenon of his era and, for many, the purest embodiment of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis's life and career have become part of rock legend. He collapsed onstage on a couple of occasions and finally on 16 August 1977 his tired, burnt-out body expired. The official cause of death was a heart attack, no doubt brought on by barbiturate usage over a long period.

IS ELVIS ALIVE?
Elvis had a fascination with numerology - an interest he fed by reading Cheiro's Book of Numbers. The theory that the King orchestrated his death is further supported when considering the significance of the date of his alleged death. The date in question is August 16,1977. By adding the numbers in the date, 8, 16, and 1977, you get 2001. This is the title of Elvis' favorite movie in which the hero plans his immortality in the bathroom. Elvis spent a considerable amount of time doing the same: planning his afterlife on the john. Elvis spent so much time in the bathroom that he had his toilet converted into a reclining comfy chair. Coincidentally, the bathroom is also where Elvis's body was reportedly found.  Given Elvis's religious affiliation (Christianity), he had a fascination with things that come in threes i.e. father, son, and holy ghost. The sum of the digits from his favorite film (2+0+0+1) is three. Let's consider the triad of the repetition of the number 24. 2001 (favorite film) less 1977 (year of death) is 24. The two numbers from the day of death (8/16) when added up equal 24. The sum of the digits in the year of death (1+9+7+7) also equals 24. That is 3 occurrences of the number 24 which is divisible by 3, and when divided by three the result, 8 has a perfect cubed root (2x2x2=8).  Elvis loved numerology, and when you consider the numeric significance of the date of his alleged death, it is clear that if indeed he did plan to fake his death, he could not have chosen a better date. Cheiro's Book of Numbers: The Complete Science of Numerology .

Jimmy Reed: Age 50
(b. Mathis James Reed, 6 September 1925, Leland, Mississippi; d. 29 August 1976, Oakland, CA).
To counter the positive elements in his life, Reed was continually undermined by his own unreliability, illness (he was an epileptic) and a fascination for the bottle. He visited Europe in the early '60s by which time it was obvious that not all was well with him. He was supremely unreliable and prone to appear on stage drunk.  Inactive much of the time due to illness, Reed seemed on the road to recovery and further success, having controlled his drink problem. Ironically he died soon after of respiratory failure. He was buried in Chicago.

David Ruffin: Age 50
The Temptations
(b. 18 January 1941, Meridian, Mississippi, USA, d. 1 June 1991).
The younger brother of Jimmy Ruffin and the cousin of Melvin Franklin of the Temptations. He toured with Eddie Kendricks and Dennis Edwards as Tribute To The Temptations on a package tour in 1991. A few weeks after the last performance he died in tragic circumstances after an overdose of crack.

Carter Glen Stanley: Age 41
The Stanley Brothers
(b. 27 August 1925, McClure, Dickenson County, Virginia,  d. Bristol, Virginia, on 1 December 1966).
The hectic schedules caused Carter to develop a drink problem; his health was badly affected and he died in hospital in Bristol, Virginia, on 1 December 1966.
 
Bob Stinson: Age 35
The Replacements
(born: 12/17/59 - 2/18/95)
1985 saw the band poised on the edge of national success, having inked a deal with Sire/Reprise Records and scoring an appearance on Saturday Night Live.  The tour left the foursome exhausted and burnt out on their perpetual swingin’ party and, citing Bob’s legendary taste for excesses, the other three members asked him to leave the group. The Replacements went on without Bob, with Westerberg and replacement guitarist Bob “Slim” Dunlap taking over axe duties.  Bob continued to play in local bands (Static Taxi and The Bleeding Hearts, among others) and to struggle with the addictions that had plagued him since adolescence. Friends and acquaintances remember him as a fascinating storyteller and a colorful figure on the local scene and, unlike some of his contemporaries, he was always accessible to his fans.   Though his love for libation never quite abated, the summer and fall of 1994 found Bob with renewed energy and plans to head back into the studio. During the early winter months, he met with his ex-wife Carleen and agreed to play on her upcoming album, a project that never came about. On February 18th, 1995, Bob was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment, and though those close to him weren’t surprised that his lifestyle had taken such a heavy toll, fans the world over were shocked and in mourning.   He left behind a son, his mother Anita, his brother Tommy, and a slew of admirers of both his musicianship and his affable personality.   read more from the same article by Tom Hallett

Jack Teagarden: Age 58
(b. Weldon L. Teagarden, 29 August 1905, Vernon, Texas, USA, d. 15 January 1964).
"I play pretty; Jackson Teagarden plays great!" --- Tommy Dorsey
In late 1933, he signed a five-year contract with Paul Whiteman Orchestra . After leaving Whiteman in 1939 Jack Teagarden put together a big band that would continue to play until 1946. From 1947 to 1951 he was a sideman with the Louis Armstrong's All-Stars. After leaving Armstrong , Teagarden led a Dixieland sextet throughout the remainder of his career, playing with such talented musicians as Jimmy McPartland , and (during a 1957 European tour) pianist Earl Hines. Teagarden toured the Far East during 1958-59, teamed up one last time with Eddie Condon for a television show/recording session in 1961.  He died from pneumonia in New Orleans in 1964.

Merle Travis: Age 65
(b.Merle Robert Travis, 29 November 1917, Rosewood, Kentucky, d. 20 October 1983, Tahlequah, OK).
Says Tennessee Ernie Ford, ‘Merle Travis was one of the most talented men I ever met. He could write songs that would knock your hat off, but he was a chronic alcoholic and when those binges would come, there was nothing we could do about it.’ Travis died in October 1983.
 
Gene Vincent: Age 36
(Eugene Vincent Craddock, 11 February 1935, Norfolk, Virginia, USA, d. 12 October 1971).
One of the original bad boys of rock ‘n’ roll, the self-destructive Vincent was involved in a motorcycle crash in 1955 and his left leg was permanently damaged.  Although he failed to retrieve past glories on record, he toured frequently and survived the car crash which killed Eddie Cochran. The often intolerable pain he suffered due to his festering leg merely exacerbated his alcoholism, which in turn devastated his health. On 12 October 1971, his abused body finally succumbed to a fatal seizure and rock ‘n’ roll lost one of its genuinely great rebellious spirits.

Jeremy Michael Ward: Age 27
Mars Volta, De Facto
Jeremy Michael Ward from The Mars Volta tragically passed away at his home in Los Angeles, California this past Sunday (25th May 2003). An official statement reads as follows: "We are very saddened to announce that our dear friend Jeremy Michael Ward of THE MARS VOLTA and DE FACTO passed away from an apparent drug overdose at his home in Los Angeles on May 25, 2003. He was 27 years old. He and the rest of The Mars Volta had only just returned to L.A. for a week of rest between legs of their support tour with RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS. No further information is currently available."

Dinah Washington: Age 39
(b. Ruth Jones, 29 August 1924, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, d. 14 December 1963). She was settling down happily with her seventh husband when she took a lethal combination of pills, probably by accident after having too much to drink.
 
Keith Whitley: Age 33
(b. 1 July 1955, Sandy Hook, Kentucky, USA, d. 8 May 1989, Goodlettsville, TN).
At the age of 17, he survived a 120 mph car crash which killed a friend, and at 19, he drove a car off a cliff into a river. Whitley joined J.D. Crowe And The New South and his lead vocals on SOMEWHERE BETWEEN, were appreciated in Nashville. He subsequently returned to drinking, which resulted in him dying at his home in Goodlettsville, TN in 1989.   The cause of death, alcohol poisoning.  The alcohol  level --roughly the equivalent of 20 shots of 100 proof liquor drunk in two hours time.

Whitley had been an alcoholic from the beginning of his career, long before he had reached the legal drinking age. He had unsuccessfully tried treatment and therapy, and had even claimed to have conquered the disease, but this was not so. Whitley was not a social drinker, rather he consumed liquor when he was alone, making it difficult for those around him to detect his drinking. Indeed, though relatives saw Whitley and claim that he was sober as late as two hours before his death, he was found dead in his home near Nashville on May 9, 1989, with a large quantity--nearly five times Tennessee's legal limit for driving--of alcohol in his bloodstream; traces of Valium and cocaine were also found. ~ http://www.countrycharts.com/2Steppin/Keith%20Whitley.htm

Hank Williams: Age 29
(Hiram Williams, 17 September 1923, Georgiana, Alabama d. 1 January 1953, Virginia).
His lifestyle was akin to the later spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. He drank too much, took drugs (admittedly, excessive numbers of painkillers for his back), played with guns, destroyed hotel rooms, threw money out of windows and permanently lived in conflict... An 18-year-old taxi driver, Charles Carr, was hired to drive Williams’ Cadillac. They set off with Hank having a bottle of whiskey for company. He sank into a deep sleep. A policeman who stopped the car for ignoring speed restrictions remarked, ‘That guy looks dead’. Five hours later, Carr discovered that his passenger was indeed dead. Death was officially due to ‘severe heart attack with hemorrhage’ but alcohol and pills played their part. Some commentators took Williams’ current number 1, I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, as an indication that he knew he was going.

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