The 1970s was a great decade for rock n roll music. But there were sadly plenty of deaths within the musical genre during the decade, as well. From Billy Murcia of the New York Dolls to Jim Morrison of the Doors. Join Facts Verse as we explore the youngest rock n roll deaths of the 1970s.
Billy Murcia 21
The fist rock n roll death we’ll be taking a look at in this video is that of Billy Murcia; who was only 21 years old when he passed away in November of 1972. Billy had been born in October of 1951. And rose to prominence for a short period of time before his death as the original drummer of the seminal punk band the New York Dolls. Billy attended school with fellow members Sylvain Sylvain and Johnny Thunders. And the three of them began performing music together starting in 1967. Though the three of them later became better known as the New York Dolls, they originally called the Pox. Around the same time period, the three of them also developed their own clothing business.
As a founding member of the New York Dolls, Billy Murcia proved incredibly influential over the band’s overall sound; even after his untimely death at a tragically young age. It was Billy’s drumbeat that provided the foundation of the band’s early works. Which would go on to define the band’s sound after Billy’s passing. Billy’s death occurred in 1972, while the New York Dolls were touring England. The drummer invited to a party one night after a show. And ended up falling unconscious as a result of an accidental drug overdose. Others at the party found the drummer unconscious. And they proceeded to try and force the passed-out musician to drink coffee in order to wake him up.
While those party-goers who tried to resuscitate Billy Murcia likely had the punk drummer’s best interests in mind. Their attempts ended up having the exact opposite effect that they intended. As the party-goers were trying to force coffee down Billy’s throat, the drummer died of asphyxiation. Although Billy helped define the sound of the New York Dolls and played with the band during numerous early live shows; he ended up passing away before the band recorded it’s debut.
The New York Dolls’ debut album released in 1973, with Jerry Nolan replacing the late Billy Murcia on drums. In Billy’s honor, surviving bandmember Johnny Thunders wrote a song by the name of “Billy Boy”. Today, the New York Dolls are considered one of the most important punk bands in all over popular music history. And the tragically young death of original drummer Billy only adds to their legend.
Marry Ann Ganser 22
While Billy Murcia sadly died before his band experienced the peak of their success; Mary Ann Ganser’s fleeting success had already come and gone before her death at the tragically young age of 22. Mary rose to prominence during the 1960s, working alongside several other young women in the popular girl group the Shangri-Las. The group composed of Mary and her twin sister, as well as another pair of twins by the last name of Weiss. The two pairs of twins recorded such hits as “Leader of the Pack” before fading into obscurity by the start of the 1970s.
By all accounts, Mary Ann Ganser had hit rock bottom by 1970 and was escaping from her failed career as a pop singer by abusing drugs. In March of that year, the former pop star died of an apparent drug overdose. However, the fact that Mary feuding with her former record label over royalties has led some to believe she murdered.
Tammi Terrell 24
Tammi Terrell was a notable soul singer who achieved significant notoriety alongside fellow singer Marvin Gaye before her death in 1970. Tammi’s death came after several years of health struggles; meaning that the singer was struggling during most of her adult years. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell recorded many duets together; with the duo’s most famous songs being “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. By the time that Marvin Gaye recorded his vocals for the latter song over Tammi’s, the female singer had already fallen incredibly ill.
Tammi’s ill health was first revealed to the public when the singer collapsed on stage towards the end of 1967. Motown Records, which was the singer’s record label. Initially downplayed her health struggles for fear that the truth might cause a ruckus. Years later, it revealed that the cause of the singer’s collapse had been a brain tumor. Following the collapse, Tammi’s health continued to decrease considerably over the following few years leading up to her 1970 death.
In order to keep up appearances, Motown Records had Marvin Gaye record over unused vocal performances of Tammi’s. This is how the duo’s release of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” created. Following the news of Tammi’s death, Marvin Gaye was so distraught that he refused to perform in any capacity for three years.
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Jimi Hendrix 27
From here on out, all the rock n roll stars that we’ll be taking a look at in this video are members of the 27 Club. Of course, that means that they died at the tender, young age of only 27. The first member of the 27 Club we’ll be taking a look at is Jimi Hendrix, who died in September of 1970.
Jimi Hendrix’s death remains mysterious for a number of reasons, with many believing that there may have some foul play involved. In fact, this is a recurring theme that runs through the two subsequent 27 Club deaths we’ll be taking a look at after Jimi Hendrix’s, as well.
Jimi Hendrix was at the top of the world when he passed away, having risen to prominence over the course of the 1960s alongside his band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The band released several classic albums before the legendary guitarist’s death. And their body of work is considered by many to contain some of the greatest rock n roll music ever recorded. Despite Jimi’s immense talent and success, the rock n roll legend had problems with substance abuse over the course of his short life. The guitarist was allegedly always on drugs, and died as a result of an overdose.
While it was certainly intoxication that caused Jimi Hendrix to die, the fact of the matter is that many are unsure whether the guitarist’s death was an accident, a suicide, or a murder. There’s a good chance that Jimi simply accidentally overdosed doing what he loved to do, which was ingesting copious amounts of mind-altering substances. However, there are many who believe that there may have some foul play involved, whether on Jimi’s part or someone else’s.
Some fans think that Jimi Hendrix committed suicide because he had simply become disillusioned with his life of fame and excess, while others theorize that the guitarist’s manager killed him because he had been making moves to get out of his overbearing contract. Either way, the results were the same: the world deprived of Jimi Hendrix.
Janis Joplin 27
The second member of the 27 Club we’ll be taking a look at is Janis Joplin. Janis Joplin’s story and death are very similar to Jimi Hendrix’s. However, Janis used only her voice to win over the audience, while Jimi better known for his guitar playing than his vocals. Janis even passed away the very same year as Jimi Hendrix, dying towards the end of 1970.
Janis Joplin determined to have died from an accidental heroin overdose. However, as with Jimi Hendrix, many believe that there may have foul play involved. Unlike with Jimi, however, there are few substantive theories as to why foul play might have been involved. Janis certainly loved to ingest copious amounts of illegal substances, just like Jimi. This is a trait that also shared by the third and final 27 Club member that we’ll be taking a look at.
Jim Morrison 27
Finally, let’s take a look at Jim Morrison. Jim was another rock n roll legend that joined the 27 Club during the 1970s, following Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. As with the prior two figures, Jim’s death remains very suspicious and his life was plagued with rampant substance abuse. By the time of Jim Morrison’s death in 1971, the singer had decided to take a break from working with his band. Jim had risen to prominence over the course of the 1960s with his band the Doors, and the group had recently released their sixth album. That album would sadly end up being their last.
The Doors’ final album ended up being LA Woman, which was released in 1971. 1971 also happened to be the year of Jim Morrison’s untimely death. The recording of LA Woman plagued with exuberant amounts of substance abuse and poor behavior from Jim; who had hit rock bottom in his personal life and no longer seemed interested in working with the band. Following the recording of the album, Jim went to Paris with his girlfriend. While the trip to Paris was initially intended as a mere extended vacation. Jim Morrison ended up passing away there shortly after his arrival.
As with Janis Joplin before him, Jim Morrison’s cause of death was determined to be a heroin overdose. But the circumstances surrounding said overdose remain mysterious. Jim’s drug of choice had never been heroin. And various supposed witness have given drastically differing testimonies as to how the singer’s death went down.
Those are the most prominent Youngest Rock N Roll stars death during the 1970s. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both died at the same age within several months of each other. And that Jim Morrison died at the same age only a year after them? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!