The world is filled with rock icons who are either aging or live perilously close to the edge, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t wake up each day a little worried that one of them will keel over.
Not that the ones on this list are the only ones I worry about — any rock star death warrants sitting on my couch all day with a handle of Jack and a tub of ice cream watching “Almost Famous” over and over — but there are a few special souls who would definitely make me lose it, and probably a lot of other people, too. Dammit, Michael Jackson came close.
Here are ten rockers whose deaths would make us lose it faster than our inheritance in Vegas. God forbid.
10. Ozzy Osbourne
. This gentle, funny, formerly evil rock legend has gone from being the definition of rock mayhem to the definition of man-cute. He’s also the king of perseverance — his awesomeness wasn’t diluted by an entire reality series about his annoying family. He even manages to seem cool in commercials about cell phones and oil-based butter spread, acting confused and shouting “I’m the prince of fucking darkness” at the air. A world without Ozzy is a world with no rock and roll mentor. When he goes, bands will dissolve out of respect, and the news will be flooded with man-made catastrophes and mass suicides. Kitties and doggies will weep.
9. Ringo Starr
. “The goofy one” (presently “the posh one”) seemed to have a definite air about him during his Beatles career. It was a sort of blind joviality, with the slight appearance of being confused over what was going on at any given time. It especially came through whenever he provided vocals, where he sounded like a musical version of someone’s dad. These days he’s enjoying coolness with his designer shades, Don Johnson stubble and ever-present peace signs, but geez, look at any photo
of him. He’s still Ringo. The day there’s no more Ringo will be the day there are no more rodeo clowns, doctor’s office lollipops, corporate meeting donuts, or anything else that makes a serious situation fun. Long live the goofy one.
8. Lemmy Kilmister
. (Update: Dammit motherfucker! RIP) I spoke to Lemmy Kilmister over the phone for about half an hour during college, and if not for that conversation he might not be on this list. But some of the things he said were just so … rock and roll. Did you know his first set of musical equipment was all stolen? He said so. Or that he gives specific instructions to his publicist never to bother him before noon? He was also quoted in Maxim as having slept with over 1,200 women
, and he’s 63. Jesus Christ, this guy is about as rock star as they come, plus he sports mutton chops that could be considered their own continent. His death would be as disastrous as Dr. Doom finally defeating The Thing, or every Hustler store burning down. It would be a loss to all masculinity everywhere, and I propose if it ever happens, every straight man should buy a gay porn mag or something in acknowledgment of Lemmy’s eternally superior man skills.
7. Pete Doherty
. Shut your tabloid-buying, NME-reading asshole face and admit this: If Pete Doherty ate it, the world would be short one more incredibly talented musician and songwriter who failed to live up to his full potential. Besides the fact that the guy is downright funny and charming when he’s not squirting syringes of blood, just the thought of losing a Libertine is enough to make me shudder. So what if he’s always wasted and can’t walk straight, sing or play guitar worth navel lint most of the time, and is usually about as photogenic as a bag of road apples. I put value in ideals, not Google Images. We need Doherty. His death would be catastrophic not only because of the loss of a great songwriter, but also because out of pure frustration I would probably kick a hole in a dam and flood a village somewhere.
6. Scott Weiland
. (Update: FUCK. RIP) Weiland is probably the least likely to cash in his chips on this list, since the guy’s rehab stints should keep him from losing it entirely. But between the reckless chemical hobbies, stories about seizures on planes
, and the residual bleach that is undoubtedly making its way through his scalp and into his brain, he’s due to buy the farm before his time. The main problem here is that my girlfriend could be adversely affected by Weiland’s passing, possibly slipping into a serious state of depression on hearing the news. But wait, you think this is just my problem? Why don’t you ask your girlfriend how she would feel about a world without Scott Weiland. Men, we need him to stick around.
5. David Bowie
. (Update: Hell just moved closer. RIP) If your girlfriend is unaffected by Scott Weiland, it’s possible she’s the other type of girl, which is the David Bowie type. Hopefully this grenade isn’t going to go off for a while, but when it does, prepare for a holocaust to be matched only by the death of Prince (left off this list for technical reasons). See, Bowie is very nearly the epicenter of cool (1
). Even though his voice is noticeably older than it has been, and he’s probably not hanging out with Major Tom much these days, the man who played Jareth the Goblin King
could drive a dented minivan to Wal-Mart on a Sunday and still be cool. Just take a look at his left eye. It’s permanently dilated because of a fight over a girl. That’s no Marilyn Manson crap — that shit is real. If David Bowie died, more than half of the world’s females would be unresponsive to any sort of male charm, leaving us males forlorn, lost and helpless.
4. Steve Tyler
. Steve Tyler dying would be like a puppy falling off a bridge, or a nun getting hit by a train. Not that he’s innocent or chaste by any means, but I can think of a million other people I’d rather see go. Steve Tyler rocks, no matter what. Steve Tyler hemorrhages party. Plus, Steve Tyler dying means Liv Tyler would be sad, and gentlemen, we can’t let that happen. I can’t promise this man is going to a happy place after his passing (alright, of course he is), but it’s guaranteed everyone left behind will be in a sad, dreary place. Who will we have to spike Jack into our veins with? No one.
Interlude. Since this article is such a downer, we need to take a break now and remember that it’s all make believe. Just pondering and theory, that’s all. Take a deep breath.
3. Mick Jagger
. First of all, if Mick Jagger could
die, he would have done it a few times already. But for the sake of this article, let’s assume Mick Jagger is normal and can die. This man has defied just about every rule, law and moral placed in his path, running down society’s barricades as fast as he ran through handles of sour mash whiskey. Not to mention the fact that his music can be anything to anyone, man or woman, whether they’re getting into a bar fight (“Get Off of My Cloud”) or slow dancing (“Wild Horses”). Jagger is possibly the biggest rock star alive today, and his death in the midst of his rock fame would be like a black hole forming in the middle of Hong Kong. Jagger’s death would make me want to steal a truck full of booze, light it on fire and slam it into a Catholic daycare center just to make a bigger mess.
2. Paul McCartney
. What was global morale like after the Titanic went down? Or on the same scale, just after John Lennon was shot? Well, it was bad. In the Beatles’ heyday, Paul was the Cute One and the band’s de facto decision maker of sorts, and the positive foundation when things started to fall apart. His voice consistently provided the calm for a generation or two, giving him the permanent status of guardian rock angel in the face of social turmoil. People pop in Beatles albums when the economy crashes in order to hear his voice and feel better. Plus, he was the Beatle who held onto the signature suit jacket and bowl cut the longest, for what that’s worth. Yes, Paul McCartney has a place saved for him in Heaven, but when he takes it, the Earth will get several shades darker.
1. Keith Richards
. The same argument applies here as to the Mick Jagger case above … but for now, let’s assume Keith Richards is able to die. Keith Richards hit a guy in the face with his guitar
and kept playing, was rumored to have snorted his dad’s ashes, and had a pirate modeled after him (2
) — and that’s just in recent history. If Keith Richards dies, the world will cease to be a nice place. Music will become tame and temporary, and the universe’s inventory of rock and roll heritage will immediately lose half its value. Not that this will happen, because I’m almost sure Keith Richards is 4,000 years old. He is probably a vampire, or an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, or just made out of pure carbon. At least that’s what I keep telling myself to hide from the fact that if he disappears (in a large puff of smoke with no warning, most likely), everything fun will matter less. A national holiday would be created that would become the most depressing day on earth. And that, friends, will be the day Don McLean was talking about.
Did I miss anyone? Add your two cents to the comments below.
1. That privilege belongs to Wolverine
2. It’s also possible he was once an actual pirate
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