Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Top 5 Deathproof Rockstars

Posted in Music, Top 5 by Jacob Zinn on August 27, 2011

Recently, I posted about the 27 Club, an unusual coincidence in which numerous rockstars have died at the age of 27. While the life of the musician can end suddenly, there are a handful of talents who lived fast and aren’t dead yet. They’ve survived and endured sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, among other things, and have the scars to prove it.

5. Travis Barker of blink-182

The only rockstar on this list who didn’t nearly die of drugs or alcohol, Travis Barker is the rambunctious drummer of pop-punk trio, blink-182.

In September 2008, DJ AM boarded a private jet following a concert in South Carolina. During takeoff, sparks flew from the plane and it skidded off the runway into an embankment, catching fire. The crash killed the pilot and co-pilot, as well as Barker’s manager and bodyguard; only Barker and DJ AM survived. (Eleven months later, DJ AM died of an accidental drug overdose, possibly a suicide from survivor’s guilt.)

Barker spent two months rehabbing in a burn ward from second and third-degree burns to his torso. He was released and returned to his fast-paced drumming style in the studio and on tour.

4. Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe

Nikki Sixx is arguably in the lead for most out-of-body experiences. He died not once, but twice, and lived to write about it.

In his 2007 book, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, Sixx detailed both times that he had died of heroin overdoses. The first was on Valentine’s Day 1986. Mötley Crüe was touring London, England and Sixx overdosed at a drug dealer’s house. The dealer tried to wake Sixx up by beating him with a bat, and when that didn’t work, he carried Sixx out and threw him into a dumpster.

Apparently, the paramedic took one look at me and said, ‘No one’s gonna die in my ambulance.’

Nikki Sixx
The Heroin Diaries (2007)

He came to, but obviously didn’t learn his lesson. In December 1987, while doing drugs with Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, Sixx overdosed again. He was declared dead for two minutes, but legend has it that one of the paramedics was a Crüe fan.

The medic revived Sixx with two shots of adrenaline to the heart (which inspired the song, “Kickstart My Heart”). Since then, Sixx has cleaned up his act. (Well, backstage, but not onstage.)

3. Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead

Legendary Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister is known for having drug problems with amphetamines, LSD and speed. (Motorhead is, after all, another term for someone who does a lot of speed.)

But while he isn’t known to use drugs (as much) now, he’s always been a chain-smoking, hard-drinking son of a bitch. The BBC documentary Live Fast Die Old revealed that Lemmy drinks a 25 oz. bottle of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 whiskey on a daily basis, and has for the last 30 years.

Alcoholic? Yes, but anyone who can hold that much liquor for three decades must have some insane genetic makeup. Lemmy easily could’ve overdosed and died in the ’70s or ’80s, yet he’s the only founding member still in the band and he’s still alive and kicking.

2. Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath

Ozzy Osbourne has a reputation for being wild, and 40 years of drug abuse certainly didn’t help to disprove such assumptions.

When Ozzy was kicked out of Black Sabbath in 1979, he reportedly spent days on end in hotel rooms with copious amounts of drugs and alcohol. Ozzy credits his wife, Sharon, for saving him from these drug dens when she offered to manage his solo career.

Like Sixx, Ozzy has died twice, but (ironically) not from any overdose. In 2004, Ozzy got into a serious ATV accident at his home that fractured eight of his ribs and one vertebra. He was in a coma for eight days and apparently flatlined twice. Now, like drugs and alcohol, Ozzy won’t touch ATVs ever again.

1. Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones

If there ever was a matchmaker that first paired drug use with rock ‘n’ roll, it would be Keith Richards. In his 2010 memoir, Life, Richards noted that he did heroin until 1979 and cocaine until 2006.

He’s abused every narcotic in the dealer’s stash. He’s drank more liquor than water. He smoked cigarettes since he was 12. There’s even an urban legend (since proven false) that Richards had a blood transfusion to get over drug addiction.

But at what point does the truth come out of the folklore? How about when scientists and doctors start asking for your body when you die so they can study your immune system?

That’s right, Richards is set to donate his body to science when he passes–which, based on scientific research, was supposed to be in 1996. Eventually, newspapers worldwide will be able to run this obituary, but for now, I’m sure Vegas is taking bets.


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2 Responses

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  1. Top 5 Black Sabbath Covers « jacobzinn.com said, on September 10, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    […] Top 5 Deathproof Rockstars […]

  2. motorsmell said, on October 30, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Lemmy also went for a blood change like Keith Richards but was advised against it as Lemms blood had mutated to some strange nuclear fuel…. Apparently clean blood would kill lemmy through shock and his blood is too toxic for another human to handle…..


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