Pop stars really do die young

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 24, 2007

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The widely held perception that famous musicians live shorter, more dangerous lives has some basis in fact, according to a study published online in September in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Researchers from the Center for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University in England analyzed mortality data on musicians who played a part in the albums included in the book All-time Top 1000 Albums published in 2000. Musical genres included rock, punk, rap, R&B, electronica and new age.

For three to 25 years after becoming famous, pop stars had nearly double the chance of dying in comparison to the general population. The risk of death was higher for North American than European musicians during this period. After a quarter century, the mortality risk of Europeans normalized, while the death rate of Americans stayed high.

Those who became famous before 1980 had a higher risk of death compared with those who became famous later, and alcohol and other drugs played a role in a quarter of the deaths of those who died young.

The authors suggest that public health efforts be considered to improve this situation for the musicians themselves and the fans who may emulate their behavior.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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