Is It Better That They Died?

by Bill Brenner on May 22, 2013

A conversation with friends last night about Ray Manzarek’s death led to talk about Jim Morrison and other musicians who died young. The question we asked aloud was what would Morrison, Kurt Cobain and others have done with their music had they been afforded longer lives?

Mood music:

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Would John Bonham still be producing those menacing drum sounds? Would Randy Rhoads be blessing us with rock infused with classical as he had desired at the time of his death?

It’s possible. But it’s also possible they all would have gone on to write and record music their hardcore fans would consider lame.

I picture Morrison, old and balding, jumping up and down in an MTV video and singing “Su-Su-Sussudio!” Or Cobain singing country songs. Or Rhoads doing a bunch of watered-down, keyboard-infused music with horn sections and such.

Maybe that was God’s plan, to pluck these guys from Earth while they were still in their musical prime, before they could make music that would alienate their most dedicated fans.

It’s an interesting thing to ponder, though in all seriousness I wouldn’t have been upset had they all lived and made radical departures from the music that made them famous. Even if you don’t like someone’s newer art as much as their older art, it would still be comforting to see them alive and well, experimenting and trying to to expand their musical horizons.

Not that any of that matters. They died young, and that’s the way it is.

Thank God they got to leave behind some music before they were called home. That music has gotten me through a lot of adversity. It’s gotten a lot of people through the rough patches.

You could say that they didn’t have to stick around because they had already done what they came to do.

Dead rock stars

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