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  • Over the years, numerous musicians have struggled with drug use. While many overcame their struggles, others faced fatal overdoses. Here are some of the most beloved musicians who lost their lives to drugs

    John Bonham (Died in 1980)

    In 1980, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died of alcohol poisoning after drinking 40 shots of vodka. He was 32.

    Aaron Carter (Died in November 2022)

    On November 5th, 2022, Aaron Carter was found unresponsive in the bathtub of his California home. After an autopsy, Carter’s cause of death was ruled to be a drowning after he took alprazolam (generic Xanax) and inhaled difluoroethane, an inhalant used in compressed air cans.

    Tim Buckley (Died in 1975)

    In 1975, folk musician Tim Buckley overdosed on heroin, morphine, and alcohol. He was 28.

    DMX (Died in 2021)

    After struggling with drug abuse for decades, rapper DMX died of a cocaine-induced heart attack in 2021. He was 50. 

    Nick Drake (Died in 1974)

    In 1974, singer-songwriter Nick Drake fatally overdosed on an antidepressant called amitriptyline. He was 26.

    Kevin DuBrow (Died in 2007)

    Known as the lead vocalist of heavy metal band Quiet Riot, Kevin DuBrow accidentally overdosed on cocaine, alcohol, and painkillers in 2007. He was 52. 

    Brenda Fassie (Died in 2004)

    Dubbed the “Queen of African Pop,” Brenda Fassie died of a cocaine overdose in 2004. She was 39.

    Jimi Hendrix (Died in 1970)

    Considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Jimi Hendrix died of an accidental barbiturate overdose in 1970. He was 27.

    Bob Hite (Died in 1981)

    Known as the co-lead vocalist of the blues-rock band Canned Heat, Bob Hite died of a cocaine overdose in 1981. He was 38. 

    Whitney Houston (Died in 2012)

    In 2012, best-selling singer Whitney Houston died of an accidental drowning linked to cocaine intoxication and heart disease. She was 48.

    Phyllis Hyman (Died in 1995)

    In 1995, R&B singer-songwriter Phyllis Hyman fatally overdosed on the barbiturates pentobarbital and secobarbital. She was 45.

    Michael Jackson (Died in 2009)

    Known as the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson accidentally overdosed on the sedative lorazepam and the anesthetic propofol in 2009. He was 50. The drugs were administered by his physician. 

    Janis Joplin (Died in 1970)

    In 1970, rocker Janis Joplin accidentally overdosed on heroin. She was 27 and had battled heroin addiction for years. 

    Frankie Lymon (Died in 1968)

    Best known as the lead singer of The Teenagers, Frankie Lymon died of a heroin overdose in 1968. He was 25.

    Truett McKeehan (Died In 2019)

    TobyMac’s son, Truett McKeehan (also known as TRU, TruDog, or Truett Foster) tragically overdosed on amphetamines and fentanyl at a private residence in Nashville in 2019.

    Mac Miller (Died in 2018)

    In 2018, rapper Mac Miller accidentally overdosed on alcohol, cocaine, and fentanyl. He was 26. 

    Keith Moon (Died in 1978)

    In 1978, The Who drummer Keith Moon overdosed on the prescription drug clomethiazole. He was 32.

    Jim Morrison (Died in 1971)

    Best known as the lead vocalist of The Doors, Jim Morrison died of a heroin overdose in 1971. He was 27. 

    Dolores O’Riordan (Died in 2018)

    After fighting alcohol abuse and other mental health concerns for years, Cranberries vocalist Dolores O’Riordan drowned due to alcohol intoxication in 2018. She was 46.

    Gram Parsons (Died in 1973)

    In 1973, singer, guitarist, and pianist Gram Parsons accidentally overdosed on morphine and alcohol. He was 26.

    Lil Peep (Died in 2017)

    In 2017, rapper Lil Peep died of an accidental overdose involving fentanyl and Xanax. He was 21.

    Tom Petty (Died in 2017)

    Singer-songwriter and guitarist Tom Petty died of an accidental overdose in 2017. He had ingested a variety of medications prescribed to treat multiple medical problems, including fentanyl, oxycodone, and Xanax. He was 66.

    Elvis Presley (Died in 1977)

    Known as the “King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley died in 1977 at age 42. His official cause of death was listed as a heart attack. However, the attack likely resulted from his abuse of various prescription drugs, including barbiturates, opiates, and antihistamines. 

    Prince (Died in 2016)

    In 2016, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Prince accidentally overdosed on counterfeit Vicodin pills that had been laced with fentanyl. He was 57.

    Dee Dee Ramone (Died in 2002)

    Best known as the bassist of the Ramones, Dee Dee Ramone died of a heroin overdose in 2002. He was 50. 

    Bon Scott (Died in 1980)

    In 1980, AC/DC lead vocalist Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning. He was 33.

    Justin Townes Earle (Died in 2020)

    Singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle started using drugs at age 12. In 2020, he accidentally overdosed on fentanyl-laced cocaine. He was 38. 

    Russell Tyrone Jones (Died in 2004)

    Better known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Russell Tyrone Jones was a founding member of the hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. In 2004, he accidentally overdosed on cocaine and tramadol. He was 35.

    Sid Vicious (Died in 1979)

    Best known as the bassist of the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose in 1979. He was 21. 

    Dinah Washington (Died in 1963)

    In 1963, singer and pianist Dinah Washington fatally overdosed on the barbiturates amobarbital and secobarbital. She was 39.

    Scott Weiland (Died in 2015)

    Best known as the lead vocalist of Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland fatally overdosed on cocaine, alcohol, and MDA in 2015. He was 48. 

    Amy Winehouse (Died in 2011)

    After battling drug and alcohol addiction for many years, singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011. She was 27.

    Juice WRLD (Died in 2019)

    In 2019, rapper Juice WRLD fatally overdosed on oxycodone and codeine. He was 21. 

    If you or someone you love struggles with substance abuse, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. 

    Our drug addiction treatment centers offer medical detox, mental health counseling, and other evidence-based services to help you or your loved one stay drug-free.

    Coolio (Died in 2022)

    The famous rapper Coolio died of an accidental overdose involving fentanyl, methamphetamine, and heroin. Other factors contributed to his death as well, such as cardiomyopathy and asthma.

    Lexii Alijai (Died: 2021)

    Lexii Alijai was an American rapper and songwriter. She died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl and alcohol at the age of 21.

    GG Allin (Died: 1993)

    GG Allin was a notorious and transgressive American punk rock musician who died of a heroin overdose in NYC at age 36 in 1993.

    West Arkeen (Died: 1997)

    West Arkeen was a co-writer for legendary rock band Guns N’ Roses. He co-wrote GNR songs such as “It’s So Easy,” “Just Another Sunday,” and “The Garden. Arkeen died of an accidental opiate overdose at the age of 36.

    Chet Baker (Died: 1988)

    Chet Baker was an influential American jazz trumpeter and vocalist who gained fame in the 1950s. However, he also famously struggled with heroin and other forms of drug addiction, which contributed to his death by falling from a hotel in Amsterdam while under the influence.

    Lester Bangs (Died: 1982)

    Lester Bangs was an influential American rock ‘n’ roll critic. He died from a combined drug and alcohol overdose at the age of 33.

    Jay Bennett (Died: 2002)

    Jay Bennett was an American musician, engineer, and producer best known as a key member of Wilco, an alternative rock band, from 1994 to 2002. He died in Urbana, Illinois, in 2002 at age 45 due to an accidental overdose involving prescribed fentanyl painkiller patches.

    Wes Berggren (Died: 1999)

    Wes Berggren was the guitarist for the band Tripping Daisy. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 28 due to an overdose caused by a mixture of drugs that consisted of cocaine, benzodiazepines, and propoxyphene.

    Bruce Berry (Died: 1973)

    Bruce Berry was a roadie for the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He died of a cocaine and heroin overdose at the age of 23.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on November 29, 2022
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