10 Shocking Facts About the Deaths of 1960s Rock Icons
While conducting the research for my newly released rock-and-roll murder mystery, I was stunned by the unanswered questions, head-scratching facts, and suspicious insights that I uncovered in the archives of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s especially surprising when you consider that these bizarre facts relate to some of the most iconic rock stars in history—musicians whose lives and suspicious deaths have been discussed and speculated about for years.
As you read these, consider that these were some of the most famous rock stars of their era. Ask yourself, “What would happen if this occurred today?” Wouldn’t it be front page news? Spawn numerous investigations and inquiries?
With that as a backdrop, let me share some of my favorite facts:
- Within 30 days of headlining a concert in Berlin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and “Blind Owl” Wilson were all found dead under questionable circumstances.
- Thirty days after being kicked out of the Rolling Stones, a group Brian Jones founded, named, and recruited, he was found floating dead in his pool in spite of being an excellent swimmer.
- Jim Morrison, the son of a Navy admiral and a genius IQ, died and was buried quickly following his death, with no autopsy and no funeral.
- Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose. Shockingly, Janis was found with fourteen needle injection marks in her arm, when just one would have rendered her incapacitated.
- Jimi Hendrix was found dead from wine asphyxiation, his head, hair, and body soaked with wine but with no alcohol in his bloodstream. A presiding doctor speculated that he died from a form of waterboarding.
- Peter Ham had a baby on the way, was writing the best songs of his career and in demand by a new label when he was found hanged in his garage. Sadly, his most famous song, “Without You,” become a monster hit for Nilsson and Mariah Carey.
- Janis Joplin, the sultry standard for women in rock for 50 years, was voted the “Ugliest Man on Campus” at the University of Texas.
- Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix had been secretly recording together in hopes of possibly starting a new supergroup.
- All the musicians researched had record company and management problems at the time of their death. Some had substantial insurance policies taken out on them.
- All of these rock stars died at age 27.
In the late ’60s and early ’70s, rock musicians were considered “enemies of the state,” and many died with poor to nonexistent investigations of their deaths. The lack of information and questionable police practices, as well as the complete lack of correlation of many obvious commonalities, created a target-rich environment to reimagine a more sinister cause of these multiple deaths.
Knowing the lack of autopsies and the acute shortcoming of forensic techniques 50 years ago allowed me to craft plausible murder scenarios that are supported by the original crime scenes and causes of death.
Bright Midnight debuted December 8th at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland as part of the Hall’s Author Series.