Rock 'n roll stardom is hazardous to your health.
That's the conclusion of a group of researchers at Liverpool's John Moores University who researched the "live fast, die young" lifestyle of more than 1,064 British and American pop stars.
The stories of excess aren't hard to recall — Janis Joplin, dead at 27, Sid Vicious, dead at 21, Amy Winehouse, on the road to self-destruction at 23.
But the statistics provide some hard truths about the all-night binges, promiscuityand fast-paced lifestyle.
Rock stars are twice as likely to die prematurely than the general population, the researchers report in a report in Journal of Epidemial Community Health.
And in the first five years of their career, they are three times more likely to die than anyone else in their age group.
Stars such as Sid Vicious and Bon Scott of AC/DC died in the first flush of fame.
Between 1956 and 2005 there were 100 deaths among the musicians examined.
The most common cause of death — in 25 per cent of all cases — was drug and alcohol abuse: think of Led Zeppelin's Jon Bonham or Jimi Hendrix.
"In the music industry, factors such as stress, changes from popularity to obscurity, and exposure to environments where alcohol and drugs are easily available, can all contribute to substance use as well as other self-destructive behaviours," the researchers said intheir report.
The average age of death was35 forEuropean stars and 42 for North American rockers — making Elvis Presley, who died at 42, the prototypical rock star.
Even 10 years after their first success, rock stars are two and a half times more likely to die young than other members of the population.
The careers of both Otis Redding, at 26, and Buddy Holly, 22, were cut short by plane crashes, and accidents accounted for 16 per cent of deaths.
Cancer was responsible for killing20 per cent, suicide, three per cent, and violence six per cent. Stars such as Marvin Gaye and Tupac Shakur died violent deaths.
British survivors rock on
After the first 10 years, the risk seems to plunge for British musicians, who return to near life expectancy.
Thus the Rolling Stones, whose current members appear to be indestructible, could surviveinto their 80s. Average life expectancy for men in the U.K. is 81.
But in North America, aging rockers remain almost twice as likely to suffer a premature death.
American stars Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys and Joey and Johnny Ramone of the Ramones all died in their 50s.
Researcher Mark Bellis said lack of medicare or the North American habit of reuniting old rock groups for another round of touring may contribute to these early deaths.
Bellis said the study, done from a public health perspective, was meant to focus attention on behaviour in the industry, which can affect other young people.
"These people hold a special position to potentially influence the behaviour of millions of young people who look up to them," he said.