Living fast and dying young has long been part of rock 'n' roll lore. And in this case, statistics affirm the image, according to a study released today.
Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University, whose report appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, studied a sample of North American and British rock and pop stars and concluded they are more than twice as likely to die a premature death as ordinary citizens of the same age.
The team studied 1,064 stars from rock, punk, rap, R&B, electronic and new age genres in the "All Time Top 1,000" albums, published in 2000. They compared each artist's age at death with that of European and US citizens of similar backgrounds, sex and ethnicity.
Mark Bellis, leader of the study that looked at musicians from Elvis Presley to rapper Eminem, said his research showed the stereotype of rock stars was true - recreational drugs and alcohol-fuelled parties take a toll.
The study found that, between two and 25 years after the onset of fame, the risk of death was two to three times higher for music stars than for members of the general population matched for age, sex, nationality and ethnic background. In all, 100 of the stars studied had died - 7.3 per cent of women and 9.6 per cent of men.
They included Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. The average age of death was 42 for North American stars and 35 for European stars.