Dead Rock Stars

This page is a tribute to the rock-and-roll musicians whose deaths came to the attention of my fellow police-pathologists.

In some cases, I have examined the death investigation paperwork and/or autopsy reports. Some were done masterfully (for example, Dr. Noguchi's workup of John Belushi's death). Others might have been handled differently.

Each person memorialized on this page possessed extraordinary abilities which brought happiness to millions of people.

Each death presents a warning. And from the declining last months of Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Jimi Hendrix to the sudden deaths of others at the heights of their abilities, each loss has taken something away from the rest of us.

The graphics on this page are from my loud, boisterous, blunt-spoken, and music-intensive one-hour show, which surveys the problem, and focuses in some depth on the death investigations of Jim Morrison, Karen Carpenter, Janis Joplin, and John Belushi. Audiences of doctors have enjoyed it. Kids have enjoyed it. It's free to school, church, community, and similar audiences in the Kansas City area.

Almost all of these people sang about "love", and many of them talked a lot about loving the human race. Fewer of them ever showed much kindness to the real people around them.

Still, visitor... honor their memories. Whatever their faults and tragedies, the dead rock stars have left us a legacy of beauty.

In Memorium:

Duane Allman
Florence Ballard
Michael Bloomfield
Tommy Bolin
John Bonham
Paul Butterfield
John Belushi
Karen Carpenter
John Cipollina
Michael Clarke
Kurt Cobain
Brian Cole
Sam Cooke
Cass Elliot
Tom Evans
Tom Fogerty
Bobby Fuller
Jerry Garica
Marvin Gaye
Lowell George
John Glascock
Rick Grech
Martin Hale
Pete Ham
Tim Hardin
Jimi Hendrix
Bob Hite
Shannon Hoon
Brian Jones
Janis Joplin
Terry Kath
Paul Kossoff
John Lennon
Richard Manuel
Jimmy McCullough
Ron McKernan
Robbie McIntosh
Jonathan Melvoin
Keith Moon
Jim Morrison
Billy Murcia
Brent Mydland
Brad Nowell
Phil Ochs
Felix Pappalardi
Gram Parsons
Kristen Pfaff
Jeff Porcaro
Elvis Presley
Keith Relf
Danny Rapp
Stefanie Sargent
Bon Scott
Will Shatter
Hillel Slovak
Gary Thain
Johnny Thunders
Stu Sutcliff
Sid Vicious
Danny Whitten
Alan Wilson
Dennis Wilson
Andrew Wood
Chris Wood

Thanks for the good times.

Karen Carpenter stands out from most (not all) of the others as a genuinely decent human being. Whatever troubles she may have had, her autopsy is inconsistent with the claim that her death was due to anorexia nervosa.

  • Her body weight was in the healthy range, and she was in the second half of a normal monthly cycle.

  • A tremendously elevated blood glucose, with no other evidence of diabetes, cannot have reflected her actual level at death. Instead, a lab error or injected glucose during resuscitation would explain it.

  • The pathologist's impression of sudden death from a cardiomyopathy -- perhaps right ventricular "dysplasia" -- was probably correct. We know more about these things nowadays, and perhaps the heart blocks in archives should be re-examined. The autopsy gives no basis for relating it to a past eating disturbance.

  • Ed's pathology notes
    Ed's autopsy page

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