5 Musicians Who Died Before They Made It Big

by Shane Groghan, Feb 20, 2018 . 4 min read

5 Musicians Who Died Before They Made It Big

Over the years there have been countless musicians who unfortunately passed away before they got to experience the appreciation that their music really deserved. Whether they were simply underrated in their time, or totally unknown until years after their death, the following artists have only become properly celebrated in the years following their passing. Here are the 5 Musicians Who Died Before They Made It Big

1. Nick Drake

Now widely regarded as one of the finest folk musicians of all time, and cited as an important influence by countless artists, Nick Drake was basically unknown in his own time. Tragically, this underappreciation was a constant source of strife for Drake, and a factor in the depression that mired him throughout most of his short life. Following the use of his track “Pink Moon” in a 1999 Volkswagen commercial, Nick Drake sold more copies of the album “Pink Moon” that year alone than in all the years since its 1972 release combined. Sadly, Drake had died 25 years earlier and never saw the success he craved.

2. Bradley Nowell

Bradley Nowell, the frontman and primary songwriter of sun-soaked California dreamers Sublime died of a drug overdose at the age of 28, just as his band were beginning to come into their own. Their unique genre-fusing brand of ska-punk had a breezy charm that was set to conquer the alternative rock scene; before Nowell’s problems finally caught up with him and he tragically passed away, leaving a young family behind. Though the group were well-known in Nowell’s lifetime, and he got to experience some success; Sublime’s popularity surged rapidly in the years following his death.

3. Ian Curtis

Another musical icon plagued by depression, Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis left this world before seeing the searing impact the band’s music would have upon all that came afterwards. On the eve of the group’s first-ever North American tour, Curtis took his own life. Like Nick Drake before him, Curtis craved success but didn’t live long enough to really see it. Joy Division bassist Peter Hook later commented – “The great tragedy of Ian’s death was that all he really wanted was to be successful, and he missed it… by a week.”

4. Jeff Buckley

The remarkable voice of Jeff Buckley, intense and powerful, can be heard far and wide these days but that wasn’t always the case. His debut album Grace is commonly regarded as one of the finest albums of the 90s, and often included on lists of the best albums of all time, but it didn’t really achieve the kind of commercial success it should have upon its initial release. Buckley earned his chops performing at Sin-e in New York City, before releasing the now-acclaimed Grace in 1994; but sales were limp and the singles didn’t really achieve much radioplay. Since Buckley’s death in 1997, however, the album has only grown in stature; with his cover of “Hallelujah” going down as an iconic rendition.

5. Robert Johnson

A blues icon beyond compare, Robert Johnson has a mystique like few others could ever even hope to attain. We know so little about Johnson’s origins; a Faustian myth about the blues musician has developed into an oft-repeated music backstory trope;  – The legend goes that Johnson met the devil himself at a Mississippi crossroads;  and sold his soul for his incredible musical gift. Though he traveled and performed extensively throughout his time on this earth; Johnson recorded very little material and had virtually no impact during his life; or in the first couple of decades immediately following his death. It wasn’t until Columbia Records released a compilation of Johnson’s work in 1961, 23 years after his passing, that he finally achieved the recognition he deserved, influencing everyone from Bob Dylan to Fleetwood Mac and changing the course of music forever.

These artists never got to experience fame they deserved for their contribution to music. However our list of 4 Guitarists That Died Young made it big while alive but unfortunately died way too young.

 

 



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

Johnny Cash, one of country music’s most influential singers sadly passed away in 2003; His words and music live on, continuing to have a profound effect on listeners.

Evan Ceretti
Jun 14, 2021 . 5 min read

Wondering what are the 5 most covered songs of all time? Spoiler alert! They’re not the ones you would think.

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 7, 2021 . 4 min read

The 4 lies musicians tell themselves are truly baffling. Each of them are indefensible and together they form a sure stairway to failure. However, all these lies have a common denominator: lack of any kind of work ethic.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 24, 2021 . 4 min read

These 4 legendary recording studios that are active today have survived a plethora of adversities.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 21, 2021 . 4 min read

These 5 hit songs disliked by their songwriters are a true study into human nature. You wrote a song, it became a massive hit, and now you hate it? That’s right! It happens more often than you’d think.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 14, 2021 . 4 min read

The top 5 young guitar players today seem to defy the odds. You need a lot of time to get really good at something like playing an instrument.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 10, 2021 . 3 min read

These 5 inspirational books for musicians can be considered modern classics. They are a fantastic resource to feed our drive and keep us inspired.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 3, 2021 . 4 min read

These 5 interesting facts about Diane Warren reveal her incredible work ethic and persistence.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 16, 2021 . 4 min read

This list of 5 famous guitarists that are great songwriters is a whos-who of modern music. They have penned some of the most beloved songs in pop and rock, while also shredding on their guitars.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 12, 2021 . 4 min read

The top 5 underrated guitarists of all time list features some of the most incredible musicians to ever live. However, fame is a sneaky little thing that is not bestowed upon many deserving individuals.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 2, 2021 . 4 min read

Ever since its launch in May 2020, Roadie 3 received overwhelming support from publications, YouTubers,  social influencers, and musicians. With many of them expressing their thoughts on the next generation tuning device to their followers.

Hussein El Annan
Mar 26, 2021 . 6 min read

The 5 best debut albums with guitar heroes contain some of the most iconic music ever recorded. These albums have become classics and have influenced scores of fans around the world.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Mar 22, 2021 . 4 min read

Selecting the 5 best rock guitarists in history is not an easy task, but we’re going to do it. Rock has had some of the most incredible musicians in history and that is especially true for the guitar.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Mar 19, 2021 . 3 min read

We can all learn from the 5 habits of world-class musicians. Although everybody is unique and we should all find a schedule and workflow that works for us, it’s good to at least know how the greats did it.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Mar 15, 2021 . 4 min read

Some of these 5 facts about Paul McCartney will come as a surprise to some. They might help shed some light on what made him one of the greatest artists of all time, able to connect with millions through his music.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Mar 12, 2021 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!