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Famous Deaths of Alternative '80s Musicians

Tegen Fisher
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Whether it was due to drugs, aids, or car accidents, losing these one of a kind musicians was an absolute tragedy.

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Ian Curtis - Joy Division

Ian Curtis was the lead vocalist and lyricist from the post-punk band Joy Division. Curtis was diagnosed with Epilepsy after he had his first seizure when he was 20. After being put on medications to help reduce the risk of having another seizure, Curtis assumed all would be fine. However, after being advised not to when having Epilepsy, he continued to heavily drink smoke and have irregular sleep patterns. This of course lowered his threshold of having seizures. As a result, for the next three years he would have severe seizures on stage and off, affecting his professional and personal life. It was also reported around the same time that he suffered from depression. After an attempted suicide in early 1980 from a barbiturate overdose, his friends and family began to realise how severely his depression had progressed. Sadly on 17th May 1980, Ian Curtis hung himself at the young age of 23. His legacy will always be remembered as the lead of Joy Division- which after his death was renamed New Order.

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James Honeyman Scott and Pete Farndon - The Pretenders

Pete Farndon who was the bassist for The Pretenders and used drugs like many of his band mates, however he became increasingly hard to work with because of his addictions. James Honeyman Scott, the guitarist threatened to drop out of the band if they didn’t fire Farndon. Two days later on the 16th June 1982, after Farndon was let go from the band, Scott died of heart failure due to cocaine intolerance at the age of 25. A year later on the 14th April 1983 at the age of 30, Farndon drowned in a bath tub when he lost consciousness after overdosing on heroin. Two very sad fates for these members of The Pretenders. The band was also known for discovering the Violent Femmes after they opened for one of their shows.


Ricky Wilson - The B52’s

Ricky Wilson was the original guitarist and founding member of The B 52’s. He was famously known for his unusual way of tuning his guitars, which made a unique sound that was evidently very popular. In 1983 Wilson had discovered that he had contracted HIV. On October 12th, 1985 Wilson died of AIDS at the age of 32. The band was incredibly distraught as Wilson had kept his poor health a secret as he didn’t want his band mates to worry. The B 52’s formed again later in 1988.


Hillel Slovak - Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Hillel Slovak was an Israeli-American and founding guitarist of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Slovak was an incredibly talented and valued member of the band even though for years he had suffered with heroin addiction. Many had no idea of his addiction as most were more concerned about the lead singer Anthony Kiedis who also was addicted to heroin. Slovak was incredibly good at hiding his struggles in comparison to Kiedis. Even after trying to get sober many times in the end he was unsuccessful. On June 25th, 1988 Slovak died at the age of 26 from a heroin overdose. After his death Kiedis eventually became clean when he decided to go to rehab.

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Dennis Dale “D”. Boon - Minutemen

Dennis Dale the leading man from the Minutemen formed the trio in 1980. Dale’s death had nothing to do with drugs but sadly a car accident. On December 1985 at the age of 27, he was killed in a van when they were passing through the Arizona desert. He had been unwell with a flu so he decided to lay down in the back seats. When the van’s rear axle broke the vehicle went off road causing Dale to instantly break his neck as he was not wearing a seat belt.

Whether it was due to drugs, aids, or car accidents, losing these one of a kind musicians was an absolute tragedy. However, the bands and their legacies will always remain.