The passing of George Michael this week reminded many of the seemingly short life expectancy of musicians (and performers in general). In fact, as on study found, while blues, jazz, and country singers typically live as long as the average American; rock, techno, punk, metal, rap, and hip hop stars die significantly sooner.
“I hope I die before I get old,” The Who’s Roger Daltrey sang in “My Generation” in 1965. This didn’t happen for Daltrey, who is now a ripe 71, but it did to many other musicians.
Dianna Theadora Kenny, a professor of psychology and music at the University of Sydney, has conducted a statistical study of premature death among musicians.
As The Washington Post notes, she found that musicians from older genres – including blues, jazz, country and gospel – have similar lifespans to American people their own age. The life expectancy for R&B musicians is slightly lower, while the life expectancy for newer genres like rock, techno, punk, metal, rap and hip hop is significantly shorter.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kenny finds that accidents – including car crashes and drug overdoses – are a huge cause of premature death for musicians, accounting for almost 20 percent of all deaths across genres. But accidents are much more likely to kill rock, metal and punk musicians. Punk and metal musicians also appear susceptible to suicide, while gospel musicians had the lowest suicide rate of all genres.
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The bottom line is, stay away from rappers and hip hop stars and make sure your favorite blues singer eats well and exercises.