An alarming number of musicians have died in their late 20s, leading fans to name them as part of an unsettling trend. What is the name that’s been given to this group, featuring “members” like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse?
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The 27 Club is the name of the bizarre cultural phenomenon that appears to have touched the lives of not just musicians, but others as well, including actor Anton Yelchin, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and controversially, athlete and accused murderer Aaron Hernandez. In 2011, a medical journal published a study concluding that the 27 Club is more of a coincidental phenomenon than an actual statistical likelihood, so if you’re 27 and an artist, no worries.
What was the name of Led Zeppelin’s original drummer, who passed away in 1980?
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The first time that guitarist Jimmy Page saw John Bonham drum in 1968, he knew he’d be a perfect fit for the band he was starting, Led Zeppelin. Bonham died after a rehearsal for an upcoming Zeppelin tour.
What was the name of the lead singer of Linkin Park, who died in 2017?
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Chester Bennington was about to give up on his music career when he auditioned for Linkin Park, then called Xero, in 1999. He remained with the band until his death.
What was the name of the famed ‘90s rock band who recruited Bennington after the departure of their troubled singer in 2013?
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When Bennington was asked to join Stone Temple Pilots, he said it was like fulfilling a lifelong dream. He performed with them for two years before his previous commitments to Linkin Park led him to leave STP in 2015.
What was the name of the original singer of Stone Temple Pilots, who passed away four years after being fired from the band?
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Stone Temple Pilots was formed in the ‘80s in California by Scott Weiland and bassist Robert DeLeo. The name was inspired by the STP Motor Oil stickers that were quite ubiquitous at the time. Weiland was fired from the band in 2013, and they soon approached Bennington to replace him.
What other grunge musician was close friends with Bennington before his own death in 2017?
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Chris Cornell and Bennington were close friends, often performing with each other’s groups on the Projekt Revolution tour in 2008. In May 2017, he was found dead in his hotel room in Detroit. Bennington took his own life not long after, on what would’ve been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.
What group did Cornell start in the ‘80s, becoming most popular in the ‘90s with songs like “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman”?
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Remember the video with the Barbie doll roasting slowly on a spit over a BBQ for the song “Black Hole Sun”? That would be by the group Soundgarden, fronted by Cornell from 1984-1997 and 2010-2017, Cornell’s death.
Which one of these musicians was NOT on the plane that crashed February 3, 1959, killing each of its passengers and the pilot?
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That would be Jennings. The plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Richie Valens was a terrible day for rock and roll, but the only other person killed that day was the pilot of the plane, which went down five miles from the Mason City, Iowa airport where it departed. Jennings had actually been scheduled to be on the plane, but had given up his seat to the Big Bopper, who was sick and had tired of traveling by bus.
What is the name of the song by Don McLean that commemorates the plane crash that took the lives of Valens, Holly, and the Big Bopper?
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Don McLean’s song “American Pie” from 1971 memorialized the 1959 plane crash, referring to it as “the day the music died”—a phrase that came to be widely adopted to refer to the crash.
Which country songstress, known for the songs “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces,” among other hits, passed away in a plane crash that has sometimes been referred to as “the day the country music died?”
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On March 5, 1963, a small plane carrying Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, and Hackshaw Hawkins crashed near Camden, Tenessesse, killing the three country musicians and the plane’s pilot. Cline’s final performance had been standing room only on March 3 in Kansas City, and Cline, sick with the flu, was anxious to return home, but was unable to fly on March 4 due to weather conditions. Dottie West, another country singer, had offered her a ride to Nashville (a 16-hour drive), but Cline declined. The plane crashed just 90 miles from its destination.
What was the nickname given to Darrell Lance Abbott, guitarist for Pantera, who was killed in 2004?
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Darrell Lance Abbott of Pantera and Damageplan went by the name Dimebag Darrell, although he was also known as Diamond Darrell early in his career. He was killed during a mass shooting at one of Damageplan’s shows in 2004.
What jazz vocalist, known by the nickname “Lady Day,” died in 1959?
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It’s Billie Holiday—which is actually a pseudonym as well! Her real name was Eleanora Fagan, and she was given the Lady Day nickname by her music partner, Lester Young. Holiday struggled with alcohol and substance abuse before her death from complications caused by cirrhosis at the age of 44.
Which country crooner and honky-tonker, perhaps best known for the song “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” was found dead while traveling between shows on New Year’s Day 1953?
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Hank Williams’ hard-won career was disintegrating before his eyes in the early ‘50s, mostly due to his own struggles with alcohol. Shortly before his death at the age of 29, he’d been asked to leave the Grand Ole Opry, and had recently separated from his second wife. His death was announced at a concert, and Hackshaw Hawkins, who would later go on to perish in the same plane crash that took Patsy Cline’s life, played “I Saw the Light” at that concert in honor of Williams.
What was the name of the drummer who allegedly became the basis for the Muppets’ character “Animal” due to his wild drumming style and “party hard” personality?
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Keith Moon was drummer for the Who until his death in 1978, and was inadvertently responsible for many rock star stereotypes—destructive behavior, crashing hotel rooms (complete with throwing objects into the pool), and passing out on stage. He’s reportedly the main inspiration for “Animal,” although this was never confirmed by Jim Henson.
What was the name of the band that Ian Curtis performed songs like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Transmission” with?
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Joy Division was formed by Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris in 1976, when Curtis was just 20 years old. They would stay together until Curtis’s death by suicide in 1980.
What band did the surviving members of Joy Division form after the death of Curtis, best known for songs like “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “Blue Monday”?
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Without the deep baritone of Curtis, the surviving members formed the much lighter sounding New Order. The band’s instrumental song “Elegia” was written in honor of Curtis. Before they settled on the name New Order, they went briefly by The No-Names.
What band had a huge hit with their 1998 cover of New Order’s “Blue Monday” AND a connection to Chester Bennington?
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Alternative metal group Orgy released a cover of “Blue Monday” in 1998 and an accompanying music video, both of which were successes. Orgy members Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh formed the supergroup Dead by Sunrise with Chester Bennington in 2005. They went on hiatus in 2012 but reunited shortly before Bennington’s death in 2017.
Which heavy metal artist (and future reality TV star) with a dark reputation was Randy Rhoads touring with when he died in a plane crash in 1982?
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Rhoads final conversation with Ozzy Osbourne in 1982 had to do with curbing Ozzy’s infamous boozing. Rhoads wasn’t much of a drinker himself, and never lived up the hard-partying stereotypes of a rock star—he was actually considering quitting playing with bands to study classical guitar at UCLA. He ended up going for something of a joy ride on a purloined plane with the band’s tour bus driver, which ended up crashing when the wing clipped the tour bus, taking the lives of Rhoads, the driver, and the band’s makeup artist.
What eerily-named album came out three days after the band Lynard Skynard was involved in a plane crash in 1977?
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That would be Street Survivors. In 1997, while on tour, Lynard Skynard’s plane ran out of fuel in the sky and attempted an emergency landing, which killed band members Ronnie Van Zandt and Steve Gaines, along with several members of their entourage. Ominously, the cover photo on the album Street Survivors showed the band engulfed in flames. The photo was changed out of respect for the deceased, and on the request of Gaines’ widow.
What ‘90s R&B group was Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes a member of before her untimely death in 2002?
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Lopes formed TLC in 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia with Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas.
What music group, famous for the song “California Dreamin’” did Cass Elliot belong to before her death in 1974?
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Cass Elliot was most famous for her years in the Mamas & the Papas with John and Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty. Her powerful voice led to an impressive solo career before her untimely death at the age of 32.
What holiday did George Michael pass away on in 2016?
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As families the world over celebrated Christmas in 2016, the news broke that George Michael had passed away peacefully in bed that morning. One of his most enduring hits with his band Wham! had been the beloved holiday song “Last Christmas.”
Which beloved singer is believed to have nearly 100,000 impersonators?
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There are tens of thousands of Elvis impersonators out there at any given time, from the professional to the amateur, from those sound- and lookalikes to the comedic. There are festivals and events for them, and the largest gathering so far occurred in 2014, when 895 impersonators gathered in North Carolina.
Which beloved ‘90s singer was killed by the president of their fan club?
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Selena, often called the Queen of Tejano music, was killed by Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her fan club. Saldivar had ingratiated herself with Selena and her family early in the singer’s career, and ended up actually helping manage Selena’s line of boutiques in Texas before the two got into a dispute that ended in tragedy.
Which ‘90s rap star died just six months after the shooting of his rival, Tupac Shakur?
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Christopher Wallace, AKA the Notorious B.I.G., was assassinated on March 9, 1997, when a car pulled up alongside Wallace’s truck and opened fire. Shakur had suffered a similar fate in September 1996 when the car he was in was also shot at.
How did the singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, die in 1991?
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Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987. He shared his diagnosis with close friends and family, but insisted on continuing to work. He finally released a public statement regarding his illness in November 1991, and died shortly after.
Where was John Lennon shot in 1980?
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Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono were returning home to the apartment building they lived in in New York City, the Dakota, when Mark David Chapman approached and shot Lennon four times. You can see the Dakota from the Strawberry Fields memorial for Lennon in NYC’s Central Park.
What was the name of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious’s girlfriend, who he was accused of killing four months before his death?
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Vicious was arrested and charged in the murder of Nancy Spungen in October 1978, but died of a heroin overdose before the trial could happen. Spungen was just 20 and Vicious, 21.
What band did one of the surviving members of Nirvana start after the death of singer Kurt Cobain?
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After Cobain’s death in 1994, the surviving members began to assemble live material, but found it too difficult in their grief. Instead, drummer Dave Grohl started the Foo Fighters, which have been active ever since.
What was the name of Amy Winehouse’s ironically-named breakout song from 2006?
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It turns out that the lyrics to Winehouse’s “Rehab” were sadly, true to life. The singer battled alcohol and substance abuse problems. After she died in 2011, a coroner’s inquest revealed that her blood alcohol level had been five times the legal limit at the time of her death.

Your Results

Culturally Naïve

You may remember the big ones, like Cobain and the Notorious B.I.G., but you might have missed some of the deeper dives into music history. Who can blame you—when the subject is this dark, ignorance is literally bliss!

Musically Literate

Watch out, Rock Jeopardy!—you’d certainly crush any “Dead Rock Stars” category were you given the chance to appear on the show. Nice one!

Musical Genius

Your knowledge of 20th and 21st century music history is basically encyclopedic. You’re definitely keeping the memory of so many musical greats alive!

Happy With Your Test Score? This video can help you do better on any quiz... even if you know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the topic.


It’s a sad story that we’re all too familiar with: the talented musical genius with a tortured soul taken from us too soon. In the 20th century, it’s gone from rare phenomenon to cultural stereotype—all the way back to Robert Johnson through Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, to Kurt Cobain and Tupac Shakur, and all the way up to recent losses like Mac Miller and Chester Bennington. It’s an occurrence that draws a ton of attention—so much, that the phenomenon has been studied by medical journals. Every year, another luminary from the world of music seems to be lost. So how much do you really know about musicians who were taken from us too soon?

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