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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Not Too Young To Die, Never Too Old To Rock And Roll

In 1983, Twisted Sister released an album called You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll.

A running gag on Brainiac is to "stop" rock and roll by demolishing the cassette player playing this song using torture instruments such as flame throwers and fire extinguishers.

But it turns out that rock and roll can be "stopped" in another way.

Rock stars live fast and die young.

Yes, that has been folk knowledge for a long time.

And now it's supported by science.

Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University, led by Prof. Mark Bellis, studied 1064 British and American artistes who became famous between 1956 and 1999.

They compared the life spans of these rock stars to the life expectancy of the general population (matched for age, sex and ethnic background) up until 2005.

And the results?

Here is a quick summary:

1. By 2005, 100 rock stars have died (7.3 per cent of women and 9.6 per cent of men).

2. Their average life span was 35 years for European and 42 for North American stars.

3. The most common cause of death was drug and alcohol abuse (25% of all cases). Other causes include cancer (20%), accidents (16%), violence (6%) and suicide (3%).

4. In the first five years after achieving fame, rock stars are three times more likely to die than age-matched controls.

5. Ten years after initial success, rock stars still have 2.5 times higher risk of death than the general population.

6. This risk gradually declines toward the population average after 25 years for British stars. Older rock celebrities (such as the Rolling Stones) who managed to last this long have the same life expectancy as everyone else. However, the risk still remains high for American stars. Researchers postulate that the lack of healthcare and the tradition of reuniting old rockers for come-back tours in America may be the cause.

So there you have it.

Rock stars live dangerously close to the edge. Some of them fall right over.

Prof. Bellis said the main reason for this study is to spotlight behaviour in the music industry, and is relevant not only to celebrities but also to the young people who idolize them.

One in ten children in the UK aspire to be a pop star.

"These people hold a special position to potentially influence the behaviour of millions of young people who look up to them."

That is a really cool study.

But I'm not sure if their data will have a positive impact on the behaviour of crazy kids.

Everyone knows that a rock star who rocks into his old age is a Rock Legend.

But a rock star who dies young is a Rock God.


Would you like to know more?

Rock 'N' Roll: Sex, Drugs and an Early Exit
- Rock 'n' roll will never die - but its stars go young
Study affirms that rock stars more likely to die young than regular folk


Jay Cam said...

whoa i read that a couple days ago! what a coinky-dink! :)

Jay Cam said...

Care to trade links? My site is

If would like to trade, post my link, then comment or email me and I will post yours on my site as a permanent link. Send what you want to your link to be called and your link please.
I would appreciate the linkage, Thanks!

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Hi, and welcome to Fresh Brainz!