Several of us in the TEAM are practicing punk songs on our new instruments (guitars, so far, of various ilks). Rachel had mentioned spending an hour reading about the deaths of various rock stars, too young and too sad. Days prior, Kristen had said after watching a documentary on the post-core punk band Fugazi that she found frontman Ian Mackaye to have something of a Jesus-y quality, filled as he was with anger about the corruption he perceived in the world, but preaching (and practicing) a life of love and embracing others no matter our differences.
This all got me thinking. So here I present to you a little chart of the gruesome, too young deaths of people who led amazing lives, gave their all for what they believed in, and who still inspire men and women around the globe to this day. Intensely charismatic personalities, many of whom died away from home while spreading their message to the masses. The circumstances of their deaths are often poorly recorded and in dispute amongst the loyal followers. Rock Stars and Catholic Saints.
Kurt Cobain – Lead singer and songwriter for seminal 90’s band, Nirvana. Shot himself in the head with a shotgun. Member of the 27 Club.
St. Peter – Credited with founding the Catholic Church. Crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy enough to die in the same orientation as Jesus.
Buddy Holly – Died in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, taking all of music with him. He was 22 years old.
St. Thomas – “The doubter”, Thomas overcame his doubts and took his strengthened faith all the way to India, where he was rewarded with spears and fire.
Janis Joplin – Died of a heroine overdose at the age of 27, eerily hot on the heels of Jimi Hendrix, also 27, who died 16 days prior after taking a lot of sleeping pills and drowning in his own vomit. Joplin came in at number 28 in Rolling Stone‘s list of greatest singers of all time, and Hendrix was voted the top guitar player of all guitar players by the same magazine.
St. Paul – Tortured and beheaded by the Roman emperor Nero. Popularized the fad of “letter writing” that would last nearly two thousand years until the invention of the internet.
Elvis Presley – Contrary to popular belief, Elvis did not die on the toilet. He died on the bathroom floor next to the toilet. The autopsy showed a horrific cocktail of ten different prescription drugs in his system. His legacy lives on in countless impersonators, and in the entire city of Las Vegas.
James the Just – Jesus’ brother. He was thrown out of a high window of the temple in Jerusalem, survived, and then beaten to death with a club.
Michael Hutchence – Lead singer for INXS. Committed suicide in a way that very much resembled autoerotic asphyxiation.
St. Antipas – This one’s a bit complex. He was set inside a bronze sculpture of a bull and sealed in. Then a fire was lit beneath the bull sculpture that heated the metal so that St. Antipas was roasted. Maybe not complex, but needlessly ornate.
Sid Vicious – Overdosed on heroin after a really rough year. He was accused of murdering his girlfriend, did time in prison (for fighting with Patti Smith’s brother) and a mental hospital, and got clean from heroin. The heroin he OD’ed on had been a gift from his mother the day after he posted bail from Riker’s.
So as we practice our guitars and our irresistibly charismatic showmanship and messaging, we will be careful to avoid the fates of our predecessors. It is a dangerous world out there for idols.