20 Musicians Shot, Stabbed, or Otherwise Left for Dead

Many artists come to an untimely end, some more darkly than others. We’ve left off the obvious (John Lennon, Selena, Sal Mineo et al.). As for the rest, anyone who’s thinking of naming their band the Walking Dead or the Headshots, writing a song called “I’ll Die Tomorrow,” or has ever used the phrase “It’s not loaded,” should study this list carefully. We’ve included the dates of their untimely demise, as well as a few relevant band, album or song titles.


Christopher Burmeister, guitarist. Shot on the Empire State Building’s observation deck. (the Bush Pilots) 1997

Clarence “Pinetop” Smith, pianist; his song “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” is credited for giving the style its name. Accidently shot by a man while trying to break up a fight. (“I’m Sober Now”) 1929

David Loucks, bassist/singer. Gagged, hogtied and strangled in his studio. (“Running Out Of Time”) 1995

Don Myrick, saxophonist. Shot by the LAPD when his home was mistakenly raided and an officer confused Myrick’s lighter for a gun. (“One More Night,” Heaven 17) 1993

Donnie Owens, guitarist/singer. Accidentally shot by his girlfriend as she tried to stop a man who was threatening him. 1994

Eddie Serrano, singer/songwriter. Head injuries from a hit and run accident. (Cannibal and the Headhunters) 1998

Euronymous (Oystein Aarseth), guitarist. Stabbed to death by former band member. (founder, Deathlike Silence Productions) 1993

Headman Shabalala, singer/founding member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Shot by a white off-duty private security employee firm who claimed to have been making a citizen’s arrest. (“Graceland”) 1991

James Reese Europe, the most famous black bandleader of his day, and a pioneer of racial equality as well as black music; his 125-piece jazz orchestra played at Carnegie Hall. Stabbed in the neck with a penknife by his drummer during an intermission. Died a WWI hero and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. 1919

Jimmy Ellis (aka Orion), one of the world’s most famous Elvis impersonators. Shot during a robbery at his pawn shop. (worked with Jerry Lee “The Killer” Lewis and plane crash victim Loretta Lynn) 1998

Tom Pfaeffle, sound engineer/guitarist. Tried to use his key on the wrong hotel room and was shot through the door. (the Black Crowes, Great White, the Scorpions, Nirvana) 2009

Lee Baker, guitarist. He and his aunt were shot, and the house was burned. (Lee Baker & The Agitators) 1996

Mal Evans, the Beatles’ road manager, body guard and additional musician and vocalist; produced Badfinger and Keith Moon. Shot by police after waving an air pistol at them and threatening his girlfriend. (“You Won’t See Me”) 1976

Marvin Gaye, singer. Shot and killed by his own father, one day short of his 45th birthday. 1984

Michael Cahill, guitarist/songwriter. Shot by a burglar who was stealing his guitar. 1979

Stacy Sutherland, guitarist for the 13th Floor Elevators. Shot by his wife. (“You’re Gonna Miss Me”) 1978

Timothy Wicks, drummer. Shot; his torso was found in 2002. Last seen alive 2001

Todd Henry, guitarist/keyboardist/bassist/music therapist. Stabbed by a student. 2009

Zayda Pena, singer. Shot to death in her hospital bed after she was wounded in a shooting at a hotel several hours earlier. 2007

EXTRA CREDIT Ken Jensen, drummer/ singer for D.O.A. Died in a house fire. (“Cocktail Time In Hell”) 1995

BONUS POINTS Accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wounds: Terry Kath, Wee Willie Williams, Johnny Ace and others

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