Study: Rock stars more likely to die young

By Andy Kwalwaser

Guitar hero wannabes, beware.

Rock stars are twice as likely as the regular population to die young, according to a study by John Moores University in Liverpool, England. Researchers sampled the “survival rates” of 1,000 rockers and found that almost 10 percent are playing the great gig in the sky.

For many, the findings confirm a long canon of rock and roll tragedy.

“When I discovered there were just some reunion shows I could never go to, I was devastated,” said Otto Stuparitz, sophomore in LAS. “People like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were completely living what they sang about a fast and easy lifestyle that can make people die young.”

The study found that rockers enter a 25-year “danger zone” after becoming famous. This period is the most common time to overdose, commit suicide, die in a plane crash, or, in the case of Mama Cass Elliott, choke on a sandwich.

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Researches said rock stars “suffer high levels of stress in environments where alcohol and drugs are widely available” and attributed a third of rock and roll deaths to substance abuse.

“As a musician there is a stigmatic stereotype that we all love drugs,” said Stuparitz, who plays bass with local act Santa. “I think drug usage runs in social circles, musicians or not.”

Certain audiences have trouble separating the music from the lifestyles that inspires it. A related poll found that one in 10 British children want to be a rock star when they grow up, but the messages reaching young listeners are mixed.

“Bands are role models for children,” amateur musician Wes Huff said, as he waited to perform at an open-mic night hosted by Espresso Royale in Urbana. “I don’t believe in censorship, but we have a responsibility to one another.”

Canopy Club booking agent and Illini Media Company employee Seth Fein said campus drinking culture puts a different spin on rock and roll stereotypes.

“The musicians are no different than the people watching the band,” Fein said.

Performers have their own preconceptions about audiences.

Campus bars were filling up on a recent Tuesday night as Jazz Sandwich played at Zorba’s. Keyboardist Jesse Brown watched the crowds pass by on Green Street.

“It’s a great audience when they show up,” Brown said. “Whether or not it’s because they’re smashed, I don’t know.”