One of the worst feelings is finding out one of your favorite musicians has passed away, whether that be from a drug overdose, suicide, disease, or a freak accident. Some of the most known deaths are members of the 27 club, which became a widely used term after the passing of Kurt Cobain in 1994. His death was connected back to the passings of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, and Jimi Hendrix, who all passed away at 27 within two years of each other.
I’m sure we could each make a list of artists who have passed that we would have liked to meet, but some of the honorable mentions that did not make our list include: Sam Cooke, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, David Bowie, Ronnie Van Zant, Karen Carpenter, Freddie Mercury, Marvin Gaye, Selena Quintanilla-Perez, Amy Winehouse, Cliff Burton, Notorious B.I.G, Tupac Shakur, Aaliyah, Whitney Houston, Prince, George Michael, and Taylor Hawkins.
Each of us have an artist we love who has unfortunately passed away, so we took some time to highlight those artists who were taken away too soon, but left their legacies in the music they created.
AUSTIN: MOONDOG (LOUIS HARDIN)
“The Viking of 6th Street” Moondog, was born Louis Hardin. I chose this person because of their art. In every sense of the word, Moondog was an artist. Blind from the age of 16, Louis was taught music composition in schools for the blind and went on to independently study music theory in college. Moondog created many of his own instruments and would use them to perform on 6th street in Manhattan while he sported a cloak, and Viking helmet.
He performed with many notable jazz musicians in the 60’s and even created an album with a young Julie Andrews. His musical inspiration came from the native American rhythm’s he was exposed to as a child when he joined an Arapaho tribe and his father in a drum circle. He compared native American drumming to more modern swing and used those undertones to drive his orchestral compositions.
This man was prolific in the amount of content he created and marched to the beat of his own drummer, or more likely, to the beat of something preternatural and universal. I would have loved the chance to sit and talk with this man or see him perform.
DAVIS: JEFF BUCKLEY
Favorite song: Mama, You Been on My Mind. Jeff Buckley, most famous for his cover of Hallelujah, had such an angelic voice and passionately played the guitar. He passed away at 31 years old after being swept away by a river’s current, resulting in a drowning. Jeff’s original songs and covers still send chills down my spine. I learned about his music from my mom, who would play artists such as Buckley, Amy Winehouse, and Norah Jones while we cooked together. Whenever I’m feeling a little sad or emotional, I like to put on his 1994 album, Grace, and lay back in my bed.
ASHLYN: JANIS JOPLIN
Not only was Janis Joplin one of the finest voices of the 60’s, but she completely redefined the role of women in rock by being sexually open, raunchy, and assertive. Her rise to stardom was through Big Brother & The Holding Company, and took everybody by storm with her raspy, supercharged delivery of lyrics. Joplin was an amazing blues singer, and her maturity throughout her music career is wonderful, showing her ability to shine in a variety of genres. Not uncommon for artists, she struggled from drug addiction, alcoholism, and some really shitty relationships in her short 27 years alive. She passed away in 1970 from a heroin overdose before the release of her album Pearl, which became a number one single in 1971, and is one of the songs people most commonly identify her with. I would love to sit down with her and just hangout. Its sad she was a victim of the 27 club, but her memory lives on.
ZEKE: MAC MILLER
It was only after his tragic death in 2020 that I was introduced to the music of Mac Miller. The rapper began his career in college, releasing a widely-criticized sub-genre known as “frat rap.” After mounting disapproval from the public, Mac did the unexpected. He completely reinvented his sound as an artist, turning his brash and boastful lyrics into personal and insightful ones. Though he was never able to overcome his drug addiction, the habit that eventually was his end, he made it clear in his songs just how much he was fighting to survive. I think Mac Miller, if brought back to life, could offer a lot of unique insight into how addiction affects people. I also think he could give advice for better adapting and changing based on feedback from others. I’d love to get to know him and learn the lessons he had to in his lifetime.
I wanted to pick an artist from my generation of music, and SOPHIE was gone far too soon. Her sound design was so insanely unique and impressive that nobody has been able to replicate even after her untimely death. Her family decided not to share any unreleased music after her death, which is incredibly commendable, but it just makes me want to take a peek into her mind more and more, and I feel like having a short conversation with her about her creative process and how everything works in her head before putting it into a DAW (digital audio workstation) would be one of the most insightful experiences I could have.
GAVIN: MF DOOM
MF DOOM is (in my opinion) one of the greatest rappers of all time. He influenced and inspired so many of my favorite artists and had some of the best rhymes known to man. He was an amazing dude with an amazing personality and his ability to work with so many amazing producers and artists made him one of my favorite artists. DOOM inspired me to not care about what everyone else is doing or trying to be, you just have to be yourself and do what you want to do.
RIP THE SUPERVILLIAN
GARY: JIMI HENDRIX
This is a difficult question to answer. Although the world has lost so many remarkable musicians, there are simultaneously so many incredible living musicians who still carry on the spirit of those gone by through their music. Death is the normal conclusion to life and, although sometimes tragic, is as constant within the musical world as it is in every human occupation. The beauty of music is that those who pass on leave behind their work for us all to hear, indefinitely and forever, and in that sense they are never truly gone. That being said, Jimi was an absolute beast with a guitar and I would love to be able to sit with him and listen to him play.
DANIEL: JERRY GARCIA
My all time favorite band is the Grateful Dead, so I felt it appropriate to pick Jerry Garcia for this one. Jerry Garcia is considered one of the most influential musicians in the world, and he basically invented the jam band genre as a whole. If I were to meet him, I would wanna ask him about his experiences with music, touring, how the band got started, drugs, and all that jazz.
I think if you know me and my recent music taste this choice wouldn’t make a lot of sense but at one point in middle school and early highschool XXXTENTACION had been very influential to me. I think the mixture of his darker, slower more emotional songs paired well with my lost young self. Of course XXXTENTACION had his very loud, upbeat screaming music like “Look At Me!” that had me and my buddies raging, but I definitely found my connection to his albums “17” and “?“. I really would love to sit down and talk to him about those pieces of work, see where he truly was at in life at the time of writing those songs. I truly believe that XXXTENTACION had a influential career ahead of him, the power and pain he had behind his words were truly one of a kind to me. And being able to get any inside glimpse of who he was would be truly amazing for myself.
ISAK: RANDY RHODES
I picked them because Randy Rhoads is my favorite guitarist and would like to talk with him about all things related towards his style. He was the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. Rhoads was only 25 years old when he died from a tragic plane crash. His style at that time was truly something out of this world. More specifically his insanely fast legato technique and how he made tapping more ‘metal’. It’s crazy to me that he is only on two of Ozzy’s solo albums: Blizzard of Oz and Diary of a Madman. I can’t describe the first time I heard him play, I mean, I must have been a kid. I sure as hell remember listening to both of his solos in Mr. Crowley and was just thinking how freely sounding his guitar playing really is. One more thing I’d like to add, his solo on the live version of Paranoid live in 1981 is perhaps one of favorite solos. In fact, I will rewind that portion and listen to it again and again and of course with the volume turned up.
BEN: CHRIS CORNELL
Growing up, Chris Cornell was one of my favorite musicians perfectly mixing deep lyrics with killer rock instrumentals. My favorite song of all time to this day is Preaching the End of the World off his Euphoria Mourning album. It was the second CD I ever had right after Nickelback’s All the Right Reasons and I listened to it religiously everyday for years.
DAYTON: MAC MILLER
I’m sure I won’t be the only DJ to pick Mac, he’s one of the greatest singer/rapper of our time and he passed far too soon. His music from K.I.D.S. to Swimming to Circles is breathtakingly beautiful. The emotion and energy his music is capable of stirring within me is rare, and for that reason he’s an artist I would love to get to know.
JUSTIN: STEPHEN FITZPATRICK AND AUDAN LAADING
Fitzpatrick and Laading, better known as the indie duo Her’s, were highly influential to my music taste today. Their deaths were possibly one of the most shocking of the last decade, and they were gone much too soon. Their two albums, Songs of Her’s, and their posthumous album Invitation to Her’s are filled to the brim with good song after good song. I’d want to meet them as a group because I’d just want to see what they had planned, what kind of great music they had in the works, and what kind of people they were.
RYAN: KURT COBAIN
Ever since I first heard Nirvana‘s “Nevermind“, meeting the genius behind the music was always a dream of mine. A dream that I quickly realized would never come true. Kurt Cobain inspired generations, left his mark on the music scene, and unfortunately left this world too early. Cobain was never one to like the spotlight, which is ultimately what pushed him over the edge to take his life on April 5th, 1994 in Seattle, WA. To this day, the 90s grunge sound that Cobain pioneered is found weaving its way into many up and coming artists such as Momma, Deeper, and Dry Cleaning. I think it would be interesting to listen to him talk about the effect his music has had on the rest of the world. I wonder if he would like what he’s seeing out of new artists? Would he think they’re being unoriginal? I’m not really sure, which is part of the reason I’d want to have a coffee with him. Hearing his take on where music is today would probably be a lot of fun, and rather insightful.
Favorite Nirvana track: Something In The Way
Songs you should check out similar to Nirvana: Momma: Callin Me, Deeper: Lake Song, Dry Cleaning: Stumpwork
ANGELA: CHRISTINA GRIMMIE
Christina Grimmie was a contestant on “The Voice” when I was little. I remember watching her every week progressing through the competition, routing for her whenever she performed. Before she was on the TV show, she made YouTube videos of her covering songs. After winning second place on the TV Show, she began making music of her own. Her songs were happy, upbeat, and positive. As a young female, it was the perfect combination. If I could meet any one dead musician, I wish I could meet her.