Rock Music History: 1970s Rock Legends Who Died in Their Prime

The 1970s will be remembered for peace marches and the end of the Vietnam War. In music it will be remembered for a new generation of music started by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the 1960s. The 1970s will also be remembered for the untimely deaths of some of the brightest young stars in the world of rock music.

Jimi Hendrix: 1942 – 1970

Born November 27, 1942 in Seattle, Washington, Jimi Hendrix was a music legend widely considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in musical history. Hendrix made a name for himself and secured his place in rock music history as the headline act at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

The song Purple Haze defined the genre of music known as Psychedelic rock. Hendrix would also forever be remembered for his electric guitar rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner performed at Woodstock in 1969.

Jimi Hendrix was found dead on September 18, 1970, in a London apartment at the age of 27. While various stories have circulated over the years as to how he died, the official cause of death has been listed as a combination of sleeping pills and alcohol.

Janis Joplin: 1943 – 1970

Born January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas, Janis Joplin became the Queen of Psychedelic Soul in the 1960s. Before going on to a successful solo career Joplin worked as the lead vocalist for the group Big Brother and the Holding Company. Joplin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Joplin had a very unique and soulful voice. Joplin was one of the few female lead singers, along with Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, in the male dominated world of rock and roll in the 1960s.

The untimely death of Janis Joplin on October 4, 1970, at the age of 27, came less than a month after the death of her fellow rock superstar Jimi Hendrix. The official cause of death was an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.

Jim Morrison: 1943 – 1971

Born December 8, 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, Jim Morrison was an intellectual genius who studied the writings of philosophers and poets. As lead singer of American rock band The Doors, Morrison was known for very unpredictable stage performances. Many attribute Morrison’s wild poetic lyrics to a troubled bipolar mind often influenced by drugs.

Throughout their performing days The Doors would have several altercations with the law due to Morrison’s wild antics. Even with their relatively brief existence as a band from 1965 to 1973, The Doors have sold over 35 million albums in the US, and nearly 100 million albums worldwide. In 1993, The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1998, “Light My Fire” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame under the category Rock.

Jim Morrison was found dead on July 3, 1971, in a Paris apartment bathtub by Morrison’s girlfriend, Pamela Courson. Pursuant to French law, no autopsy was performed. as there was no evidence of foul play. Because of Morrison’s struggles with depression and drug addiction many speculate his death was drug related. Like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, Morrison was 27 years old at the time of his death.

Drugs and 1970s Rock Music

Sadly, drugs are implicated in the untimely deaths of these 1970s rock legends who died In their prime. It is hard to believe that more than three decades have passed since these rock music legends have passed away. Thanks to all the classic rock radio stations, and the vehicle of the internet, their music and memories live on in all of us.

Peace. Rock On.