11 extremely unlucky musicians

by Mark Teo

September 13, 2013






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It’s Friday the 13th, so we have one thing on our mind: Misfortune. We’re all subject to bad luck occasionally, but certain musicians have it worse than most—and sometimes, they even have fatal consquences. Here are 11 musicians who’ve had things go horribly, horribly wrong.


1. INXS’s Michael Hutchence, who accidentally hung himself

Whether you dig sex swings, extreme restraints, or Moist records, whatever you do to get your rocks off—behind closed doors, at least—is your own business. So we can’t blame INXS’s Michael Hutchence for being a gasper, or someone who’s into autoerotic asphyxiation. (It’s the practise of cutting off your air supply to achieve a more powerful orgasm.) We can, however, blame Hutchence for not taking proper precautions: He was found dead in 1997, kneeling in front of his hotel room door with a snakeskin belt looped around his neck. It’s been speculated that his death has been related to autoerotic asphyxiation. R.I.P., Michael.


2. Whitney Houston, who drowned in her hotel room

To soon? Perhaps. But her death, despite the drugs and booze in her system, can only be considered unlucky: Her death has been ruled as a drowning, and she was found submerged in a hotel bathtub. Plenty of people struggle with drugs, but few drown in a foot of water. R.I.P., Whitney.


3. Ervin McKinness, the YOLO rapper

How’s this for tempting fate? 21-year-old aspiring rapper Inkyy, a.k.a. Ervin McKinness, reportedly had just signed with an unnamed major label. And he went on a bit of a drunk driving binge. And tweeted this:


Twenty minutes later, he’d run a red light and crashed into a wall. It was a fatal accident that took the lives of him and four others. Bad luck, indeed. R.I.P., Inkyy.


4. Scott Raynor, Blink-182’s original drummer

As much as people love Travis Barker’s athletic drumming style, we’ll go ahead and say it: He’s not essential to Blink-182’s success. After all, they’d already scored a hit—and arguably their best album—with Dude Ranch, which had utilitarian 2/2 machine Scott Raynor on the drums. (That’s him in the tie in the video for “Josie.”) He was reputedly fired from the band due to his alcohol abuse, not his abilities behind the skins, and the band’s next album, Enema of the State, would make them one of music’s biggest acts.


5. Pete Wentz, the less-than-masterful plagiarizer

It started as a little white lie: On Infinity on High, Pete Wentz took some inspiration—read: borrowed—lyrics from the Wes Eisold-fronted American Nightmare, then considered the poet laureate of hardcore. Eisold reputedly discovered the pliagarism on songs like “Carpal Tunnel of Love” when he was down and out, eating ramen and living in a Philadelphia squat. Though details are hazy, the issue was settled out of courts. Here’s what we do know: Eisold is listed as a co-writer on Infinity, and became a millionaire who opened up a Philadelphia bookstore, founded a publishing house, and formed goth-wave powerhouse Cold Cave. Wentz, meanwhile, lost a few mil and a heckuva lot of his personal dignity.


6. Farrah Franklin, who willingly left Destiny’s Child

It all began so promisingly. Farrah Franklin was invited to be a member of the Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland-led Destiny’s Child after starring as an extra in “Bills, Bills, Bills.” But after showing an apparent disinterest in the group—which were Beyonce confirmed—Franklin left the group. Then, the absolutely massive Destiny’s Child happened, and the rest is history. As for Franklin? She last made headlines when she was arrested for disorderly conduct. 


7. Pete Best, the original Beatles drummer

Is any list of unlucky musicians complete without Pete Best, the famed original Beatles drummer? He played with the band during the band’s Hamburg period—the era which Malcolm Gladwell cited as critical to their success—before being dismissed for being “too conventional.” And for being disliked by the fab, uh, trio. Then, with Ringo Starr, the foursome became the biggest band in the world. Stuart Sutcliffe, the band’s original bassist, also left the band prior to their rise to prominence.


8. Coolio, who can’t let go of his culinary dreams

We can’t blame a man for following his dreams. And we must admit, Coolio’s take on Italian—sorry, “ghettalian”—food is downright delightful. But his persistence in following his culinary path eventually cost him: He is auctioning the rights to all of his songs, including the legendary “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “1-2-3-4,” in order to finance his cooking career.


9. Chad Channing, the would-be drummer for Nirvana’s Nevermind

Most associate Dave Grohl’s unmistakeable drumming with Nirvana. But before Grohl—and before Nevermind—they had Chad Channing, the drummer on Bleach and their legendary first single, “Love Buzz.” Channing reportedly became tired of his creative freedom (or lack thereof) in the band, and left prior to the release of Nevermind. He was replaced by Grohl, who kept many of Channing’s drum parts on the LP. (Channing, for his part, recorded several Nevermind tracks during its initial sessions in Madison, Wisconsin. He also drums on “Polly,” though he never saw royalties from the LP.) Grohl, for his part, became a modern rock icon; Channing, meanwhile, plays in a little-known band called Before Cars.


10. Dave Mustaine, who was fired from Metallica

While Megadeth are cherished, Dave Mustaine’s legend starts with Metallica; he was a founding member. But his love of excess—booze, drugs, and reportedly kicking bassist Ron McGovney’s dog—felled him. He was sent away from the recording sessions for Metallica’s debut, Kill ‘Em All. The band would become one of the biggest metal acts ever, and would go onto a decade of flawless releases (which ended with 1996’s Load). Mustaine, for his part, is opening soup kitchens in Haiti, feuding with Men’s Warehouse, criticizing Obama for staging the Wisconsin Sikh shootings, and having dickish tarantualas named after him. Quite a career on that one.


11. Any 27-year-old left-handed rock stars

Call them the Forever 27 club. Call it the white lighter myth. Either way, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison all were left-handed, all were 27, and mythically, all died with a white lighter in their pockets. That last part isn’t true, but its legend still persists—and the 27-year-old quartet still spooks every 26-year-old rock star.

Tags: Music, Lists, News, Chad Channing, Dave Mustaine, Destiny's Child, Farrah Franklin, INXS, Metallica, Nirvana, Pete Wentz, Scott Raynor, The Beatles, Whitney Houston






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