Solo Pop Stars More Likely to Die Young

Jason Koebler

Ke$ha might want to watch out with all this "Die Young" stuff--a new study finds that solo pop and rock stars are much more likely to die young than similarly successful stars that are in bands.

History is littered with rock stars in the so-called "27 Club"--stars who died at age 27, including solo artists Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Amy Winehouse and band frontmen Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison. A study published last year in the British Medical Journal found there was no increased risk of dying at 27, but a follow up, published Wednesday, has found solo performers are more than twice as likely to die young than those in a band.

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Of the 1,489 rock and pop stars analyzed between 1956 and 2006, 137 died. The average age of death for American stars was 45, compared to 39 for stars from Europe. According to the analysis, solo stars were more than twice as likely to have died during that period than artists in bands. Artists were most likely to die of drug-related problems or an accident, according to the study.

Performers were selected if they released an album that placed on the top 1,000 albums of besteveralbums.com, which aggregates various album rankings.

Mark Bellis, director of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, writes that "with solo performers often attracting more attention than, for instance, a drummer or keyboard player in a band," solo artists might be more likely to fall into the trappings of fame, including drug or alcohol abuse. But the finding "also raises the issue of peer support as a protective factor" in bands, he writes.

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Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com.