I have often pondered this. Some many bright young rockers died tragically young with short careers. What could they have achieved if they had lived longer?
I drew up a short-list of the ones that came to mind (and added in a couple whose careers were ruptured by mental illness). I focussed on ones I particularly liked so discarded those who had had a long career first or I didn’t much like. This is what I came up with:
I then discarded Elvis because he was little more than a bloated cabaret artist at the time and his best years were long behind him. I discounted Brian Wilson because I find the Beach Boys a bit irritating and lightweight. I discarded Nick Drake, Phil Ochs and Jackson C Frank because, although I love them dearly, they weren’t major stars.
Brian Jones was the best musician in the Stones and was the leader of the band – ousted by Jagger and Richards – he was getting into World Music at the time of his death ahead of his time. Might have been interesting?
Janis Joplin was probably past her best.
Syd Barrett was a great loss. He was the genius behind psychedelia and Pink Floyd. His two solo albums (three if you count the outtakes) were brilliant. He was too messed up on acid and couldn’t hack performances. What might he have done?
Nirvana were tremendous and Kurt was Nirvana for me. His death was tragic. I would have loved to have heard more. But would it have been different?
John Lennon was a bit of a spent force. His first solo albums were superb. After that they were pretty mediocre. His comeback albums were not brilliant. But would he have done some more significant stuff. It was certainly on the cards. The biggest loss was that the Beatles died with him. There was no hope of a reunion.
Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran were both brilliant. They had such short careers and produced a great body of innovative work. I would love to have seen what the Beatles and the Sixties did for them. We’ll never know.
The Doors were brilliant and Jim was a great singer. Was he a burn-out force? Would the Doors have reformed and done more great albums? It was possible.
Keith Moon always stole the show. He was not only a superb drummer but also an amazing personality. What a loss.
Mick Green’s Fleetwood Mac were superb. If he hadn’t taken that acid would he have kicked on further?
Jimi Hendrix – there’s been nothing like him. He was a phenomenon is all senses and he was right at the peak of his performances, lapping up new directions, styles and skills. I’m positive he would have kicked on into new, amazing directions and not subsided into cabaret like Clapton.
So who would you rate as the biggest loss?