Pop stars more than twice as likely to die an early death

September 4, 2007

Rock and pop stars are more than twice as likely as the rest of the population to die an early death, and within a few years of becoming famous, reveals research published ahead of print in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The findings are based on more than 1050 North American and European musicians and singers who shot to fame between 1956 and 1999.

All the musicians featured in the All Time Top 1000 albums, selected in 2000, and covering rock, punk, rap, R&B, electronica and new age genres.

How long the pop stars survived once they had achieved chart success and become famous was compared with the expected longevity of the general population, matched for age, sex, ethnicity and nationality, up to the end of 2005.

In all, 100 stars died between 1956 and 2005. The average age of death was 42 for North American stars and 35 for European stars.

Long term drug or alcohol problems accounted for more than one in four of the deaths.

When compared with the rest of the population in the UK and the US, rock and pop stars were around twice as likely to die early and even more likely to do so within five years of becoming famous.

Some 25 years after achieving fame, European pop stars returned to the same levels of life expectancy as the rest of the population.

But North American stars continued to experience higher death rates.

The music business would do well to take the health risks of substance abuse and risk taking behaviours more seriously, say the authors.

This is not only because of the long term effects on the stars themselves, but also because of the influence these stars exert on others.

One in 10 children in the UK aspires to become a pop star, say the authors, and the droves of eager hopefuls applying to take part in series such as the “X Factor,” confirm the attractiveness of this career option.

“Public health consideration needs to be given to preventing music icons promoting health-damaging behaviour amongst their emulators and fans,” say the authors.

Stars could do more to actively promote positive health messages, but these need to be backed up by example, they add.

“Where pop star behaviour remains typified by risk taking and substance use, it is unlikely that young people will see any positive health messages they champion as credible,” they warn.

Source: BMJ Specialty Journals

Explore further: Bleaching creams are by-products of colonialism—a view from French history

Related Stories

Apple 'spaceship' nestled in Earthly oasis

September 13, 2017

Apple's new "spaceship" headquarters peeked above a nearby hillside as the sun shined gloriously through towering glass walls of the entryway to Steve Jobs Theater.

Most of Houston 'now dry,' as recovery begins

September 1, 2017

Houston was limping back to life on Friday one week after Hurricane Harvey slammed into America's fourth-largest city and left a trail of devastation across other parts of southeast Texas.

Recommended for you

Plague likely a Stone Age arrival to central Europe

November 22, 2017

A team of researchers led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has sequenced the first six European genomes of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis dating from the Late Neolithic ...

How to cut your lawn for grasshoppers

November 22, 2017

Picture a grasshopper landing randomly on a lawn of fixed area. If it then jumps a certain distance in a random direction, what shape should the lawn be to maximise the chance that the grasshopper stays on the lawn after ...

Ancient barley took high road to China

November 21, 2017

First domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, wheat and barley took vastly different routes to China, with barley switching from a winter to both a winter and summer crop during a thousand-year ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.