I Want My Rock Stars Dead*

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* Bill Hicks

Some dudes at the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moore University, successfully conned someone into paying them to compare the life expectancy of rock stars to the general public. They were apparently qualified to do this because the Beatles were from Liverpool and they had really good weed.

http://press.psprings.co.uk/jech/september/896_ch59915.pdf

Conclusion: Pop stars can suffer high levels of stress in environments where alcohol and drugs are widely
available, leading to health-damaging risk behaviour. However, their behaviour can also influence would-be
stars and devoted fans. Collaborations between health and music industries should focus on improving both
pop star health and their image as role models to wider populations.

The most interesting thing about the study to me was that Elvis for the one and only time in his life proved to be exactly average by dying at 42. But basically what they said was that your life expectancy was impaired by being a Rock star mostly due to Alcohol and Drugs.

Now I’m not a certified health professional or a University PHD, but my objective opinion of this study is that it is a complete and utter waste of time.

1. Their study sample is too small and 75% of it hasn’t managed to die yet.

Here was the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Buddy Holly – Dead
Chuck Berry – Alive and Cranky
Elvis Presley – Dead
Fats Domino – Alive
James Brown – Just Died
Jerry Lee Lewis – Alive and Dangerous
Little Richard – Alive and Fabulous
Ray Charles – Dead
Sam Cooke – Dead
The Everly Brothers – Both Still Alive

That’s 11 Rock Stars from essentially Day 1 of Rock and Roll and more than half of them are still kicking.

2. My guess is all artists have increased incidence of substance abuse not just Rock Stars – but no one is paying me to study this.

3. The drummer from Boston is not a Rock Star no matter how long he does or does not live

4.  For every drug or alcohol flame out – one can easily come up with deaths that had little or nothing to do with substances and that’s letting them have Kurt Cobain, who didn’t technically die from his heroin use.

“Collaborations between health and music industries should focus on improving both
pop star health and their image as role models to wider populations” would have done little to prevent the following deaths.  In fact, perhaps the proper inference would be to avoid touring and to stay away from guns.

Buddy Holly – Airplane

Eddie Cochran – Car he wasn’t driving

Otis Redding – Airplane

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Helicopter

Rick Nelson – Airplane

John Lennon – Deranged fan

Sam Cooke – Deranged motel manager with a gun

Cliff Burton – Bus

Jeff Buckley – Swimming while wearing steel tip boots

Randy Rhodes – Reckless airplane stunts

Biggie, Tupac, and Jam Master Jay – Shot

5. Any study that can’t explain why Brian Wilson is alive, while Carl Wilson is dead, just opens up a huge unanswerable can of worms.

6. Jim Morrison would have been a drunk whether he became a Rock Star or not 

7. Keith Richards can not be used as a normal indication of anything and skews any reasonable study that he is a part of. Keith Richards is a Black Swan as defined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/

Given that Keith Richards is a Black Swan – Rock Stars like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix are excellent role models to wider populations – they abused substances heavily and did what the framers of this study expected them to do – they died.

8. I’m pretty sure my 41 years are not the equivalent of the average of Elvis (42) and John Lennon (40) in fun terms. All ages should be fun indexed. Based on fun Little Richard is now 375 and Kurt Cobain lived to the age of 15.

9. As Bill Hicks would have said if he were still alive (a death that wasn’t caused by drugs or alcohol) any pop star collaborating between health and music industries and focusing on improving both pop star health and their image as role models to wider populations — is probably not worth listening to.

For more on this see http://bradlaidman.com/?p=554

5 Responses to “I Want My Rock Stars Dead*”

  1. thanks to rock rap confidential..a great introduction to your blog and way of thinking.

    Next time, Liverpool or no, let them include the people who were/are responsible for all the racket round here..Hubert Sumlin and Buddy Guy aside..they are all gone…more due to no health care for musicians/artists here in the land of bush than some horseshit ideas about the wild side of life.

    sort of like you said.
    John

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