Live Fast, Die Weird: The Most Bizarre Deaths In Music History

Rock and roll is a hazardous business, but we didn't see these tragedies coming.

It’s been said that rock ‘n’roll is a hazardous business. Too many of music’s best and brightest have fallen victim to drug overdoses, murders, plane crashes and other unfortunate events. But then there are those deaths that are so unexpected, so unpredictable, so bizarre, that we’re left scratching our heads even after all these years.

Music is full of one-of-a-kind characters, so in a way it’s fitting that they meet their maker in totally unique ways. There’s the rocker who was crushed by a hay-bale, and another who died of drink -not of alcohol poisoning but by the maraschino cherry in his cocktail. Coyotes, electrocution, drowning, even pesticides; freak accidents have taken greats from us far too soon. Head up to the gallery above for some unbelievably weird ways that these musicians went out. Trust us, you can’t make this stuff up. Be careful out there, folks!

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    (1954) Blues legend Johnny Ace was frequently playing with a .22 caliber revolver according to those who knew him best. He would frequently play Russian roulette, bragging he knew exactly which chamber the bullet was in. Turns out on Christmas Day 1954, he was wrong. He shot himself backstage at one of his concerts.

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    (1964) Sam Cooke was a soul legend and wrote the song “A Change Is Gonna Come.” He died in a motel in L.A. when he was shot out of self-defense by the motel manager. She claims that he came into her office drunk with only a sports jacket and one shoe on. He was supposedly chasing a prostitute that had stolen his pants.

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    (1966) Originally deemed a suicide, Bobby Fuller’s death was a suspicious one. The rock singer was found in his car outside his L.A. home with multiple stab wounds and covered in gasoline. The final ruling was that Fuller died from “accidental asphyxiation” because of the gasoline fumes.

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    (1972) Les Harvey, guitarist for Stone the Crows, was killed by an ungrounded microphone. With wet hands, Harvey went to grab the microphone and electrocuted himself.

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    (1976) Yardbirds’ lead singer Keith Relf also was the victim of an accidental electrocution while he was playing an ungrounded electric guitar in his home.

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    (1978) Terry Kath, lead guitarist of Chicago, accidentally shot himself. He was playing around with an unloaded .38 revolver by putting it up to his head and pulling the trigger. Little did he know that the 9 mm pistol he picked up next was in fact loaded.

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    (1980) Steve Peregrin Took from T-Rex didn’t die the way everyone expected him to. Like a lot of musicians, he was into using illegal substances. On the night of his death, even though he had ingested morphine and mushrooms, his death was caused by choking on a cherry from a cocktail.

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    (1982) Guitarist Randy Rhoads met his end when he boarded a small plane being piloted by his tour bus driver. Jokingly, the passengers tried to play a prank on the band on the bus by flying dangerously close to it. This ended badly when the plane clipped the back of the bus and went down.

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    [Photo: Getty Images]
    (1982) A turn of fate landed Blues pianist Tommy Tucker as a real-estate agent. While refinishing the hardwood floors in his home, Tucker inhaled the carbon tetrachloride chemical in the finish and died.

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    (1983) Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys died while drunk diving. That’s right, diving not driving. He jumped off his yacht and drowned in the water after he had been drinking all day.

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    (1984) Marvin Gaye was shot by his own father. Reportedly, Gaye was fighting with his father and physically beating him before the shot was fired.

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    (1992) Founding member of the American rock band Toto, Jeff Porcaro was another star that inhaled something he shouldn’t have. After falling ill from spraying his garden with pesticide, Porcaro died. However, it was not the weed killer that killed him. According to the coroner’s report, his death was caused by a heart attack from all of his cocaine use.

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    [Photo: Getty Images]
    (1995) Selena (not to be confused with Selena Gomez) was shot by the president of her fan club.

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    (1997) Another musician who was cited as killing himself was Michael Hutchence. He was found hanging from a belt in his hotel room in Syndey, Australia. According to Paula Yates, his wife, he also could have died from autoerotic asphyxiation.

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    [Photo: Getty Images]
    (1997) This one is not a traditional rock star death. Spirit Guitarist Randy California died when he was caught in a riptide off the coast of Molokai, Hawaii while trying to save his son. He was able to push his son close enough to shore to escape, but California, sadly, drowned.

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    (1997) Jeff Buckley, at the age of 30, died from drowning in Memphis’s Wolf River Harbor. According to the coroner’s report, he was completely sober.

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    (2004) It’s not too uncommon for rock stars to be shot. But there’s a difference when the star is shot on stage, and there’s a bigger difference when shot at point-blank range. This is what happened to Dimebag Darrell.

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    [Photo Credit: Facebook]
    (2009) Jerry Fuchs, the drummer for Maserati, died when he fell down an elevator shaft. Apparently, his clothes got caught when he tried to jump out of the lift that was stuck between two floors.

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    [Photo: Back Road Tavern Productions]
    (2009) This death is like something out of the beginning of a crime-drama. While on tour, Taylor Mitchell took a break from rehearsal to go on a quick hike in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia. On her hike, she was attacked by three wild dogs and later died in the hospital. In all of recorded history, it looks like she was the first to die from an attack like this.

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    [Photo: Getty Images]
    (2010) Mike Edwards of the Electric Light Orchestra died in a bizarre accident involving a 300kg hay bale. The hay bale collided with his van and killed him.

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    [Photo: Facebook]
    (2011) Mikey Welsh, bassist from Weezer, died from a drug overdose. So what was so bizarre about this one? Not the way he died, but the circumstances around it. Over a Twitter post, Mikey predicted where and when his death would take place after dreaming it.

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    [Photo: Facebook]
    (2014) Samong Traisattha from the black metal band Surrender of Divinity was stabbed in his home by a fan. Allegedly, the fan stabbed him because he was not the true Satanist he was claiming to be.

VH1 Music Editor + Seltzer Enthusiast