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Mon Sep 01 20:38:26 SAST 2014

Life in the fast lane: solo rock stars more likely to die young

Sapa-AFP | 20 December, 2012 15:19
Singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley in concert. He died aged 30 after found drowned during a spontaneous evening swim, fully clothed, in the Wolf River when he was caught in the wake of a passing boat.
Image by: Stefano Cobucci

Solo rock stars are twice as likely to die prematurely as counterparts who perform in groups, a study published in the journal BMJ Open said Wednesday.

British researchers examined the fate of 1 489 rock and pop performers who had risen to fame in a study period that spanned half a century, from Elvis Presley in 1956 to the Arctic Monkeys in 2006.

A total of 137, or 9.2%, died prematurely, at 45.2 years of age on average for North American stars and 39.6 for those in Europe.

Substance abuse and car crashes accounted for nearly 40% of deaths, according to the probe.

The difference in life expectancy was huge when it came to solo performers, it found.

Among the 114 US soloists documented in the study, 23% died at a younger age than the general population.

This was double the 10.2% death rate among members of equally famous American bands.

In Europe, too, 9.8% of soloists died young, compared to 5.4% of group performers.

Stars who became famous before 1980 were much likelier to have died young, they added.

Nearly half of the stars who died from substance abuse had suffered childhood traumas.

"This study raises some important issues relating to protecting both stars' and would-be stars' acute and long-term well-being in an industry that has turned recruitment of the next generation of celebrities into a global business," said the report.

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