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Thursday, December 20, 2012

How Likely Are You To Die From Music?

Artist Survivability Chart from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
Artist Survivability With Age
The rock and roll lifestyle isn't always what it's cracked up to be and in fact can be quite risky, and now comes a study that proves it. A team of researchers in England have quantified just how much more likely a music star is to die than the rest of the general population.

The co-authors of the paper "Dying To Be Famous," which was published in the British Medical Journel, examined the lives and deaths of 1,489 rock, pop, hip-hop and punk stars from North America and Europe over the last 50 years, of whom 137 (9.2%) had died. Jazz and other non-mainstream musical genres, as well as artists from other parts of the world, were excluded from the study.

Here are the fun facts that the study brought to light:
  • Solo performers are twice as likely to die than musicians in a band. In North America, 23% of solo performers died compared to 10% of band-only stars. In Europe, the figures were lower at 10% versus 5%.
  • Nearly 39% of those who died did so from factors related to violence, alcohol or drug intake.
  • North American pop stars where 12.4% more likely to die than others of the same age and ethnicity.
  • Not surprisingly, overdosing on drugs was the most common form of death.
  • Also not surprising, the wealth and affluence brought on by stardom amplified any major childhood trauma.
  • And just as we always knew, the death toll was higher in the 60s and 70s, with the survivability after 1980 increasing. The study cited the sense of professionalism that grew within the industry as it became a major revenue source, which they said was a factor in preventing more deaths past 1980.
From what I've seen in the business, the study hit the nail right on the head in a couple of points. For someone who has been somehow damaged during childhood, suddenly having wealth, fame and freedom can be deadly. The thing is, they may be successful precisely because that early damage internally pushed them to be so. As it seems with everything in life, fame can truly be a double-edged sword.


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