Would people still have the debate between Pearl Jam and Nirvana if Kurt Cobain had not died? Would Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix have actually finished the project they were working on?
Unfortunately, we don’t know because these musicians died much earlier than we would have preferred. Here are the best musicians who died before their time, brought to you by the Woove editorial board: Todd Stafford, Rosalie Wind, Matt Clark, Stu Ruiz and Ben Woody.
10. Jack Rose (Feb. 16, 1971 — Dec. 5, 2009)
Nationally, Jack Rose will be remembered for his highly original and inventive acoustic and lap guitar performances. He managed to simultaneously incorporate microtonal drones from eastern music and sounds from traditional ragtime, country and blues with an effect that has been compared to avant-guitarist John Fahey. But this comparison is unfair — Rose's early covers of Fahey's tunes notwithstanding. Jack Rose's unique sound showed technical mastery and compositional acumen that clearly demonstrated how far the creative musician had transcended his influences.
On the seminal albums “Red Horse, White Mule” and “Opium Musick,” Rose contrasted kaleidoscopic open-tuning meditations with classic-sounding rags in subtly swung time, which seemingly pointed an accusatory finger at the derivative crooners and frat-inspired jammers that made “solo acoustic” a hostile epithet circa 2000. Rose's early contributions to the drone and noise jams of the lesser known avant-rock band Pelt showed his versatility as a multi-instrumentalist and collaborator, which continued until his death of a heart attack late last year.
In southwest Virginia, Rose may be best remembered for a popular series of inspirational acoustic shows with the local progressive old-time favorites The Black Twig Pickers, which culminated in collaborative 7” and LP records with the band during his last two years. Long-time listeners of WUVT-FM 90.7 Blacksburg, where his years as a volunteer DJ inspired many, will always remember Jack Rose’s voice. — Todd Stafford
9. Kurt Cobain (Feb. 20, 1967 — c. April 5, 1994)
Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain earned mainstream recognition by selling more than 25 million albums in the United States and more than 50 million worldwide.
Popularized by albums “Bleach” (1989), “Nevermind” (1991) and
“In Utero” (1993), Nirvana gained attention for its skill, sound and socially progressive music. Though Cobain despised this description, his fans have called him the “spokesman of a generation.”
Diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as a child and bipolar disorder as an adult, Cobain struggled with emotional, mental and physical debilitation. The enormous media attention from Nirvana’s fame, his publicly tumultuous marriage with Courtney Love and an unmanageable dependence on heroin led to Cobain’s death.
After numerous overdoses, rehab visits and suicide attempts during his career, Cobain finally agreed to a detoxification program. He fled the facility April 1, 1994 and was unseen for days. On April 8, an electrician discovered Cobain’s body in his home with a shotgun pointed at his chin. There was a supposed self-inflicted wound aimed at his jaw. Autopsy reports note that Cobain’s body contained three times the lethal amount of heroin.
In 2006, Cobain surpassed Elvis Presley as the top-earning deceased celebrity, signifying his importance and influence even after his death. Documentaries and books have been made about his life and talents, and conspiracy theories about his death are rampant.
Unfortunately, one can only accept the suicide and drug overdose of a talented, but immensely troubled, singer-songwriter. — Rosalie Wind
8. Otis Redding (Sept. 9, 1941 — Dec. 10, 1967)
Probably the most dynamic voice of the 20th century belonged to Otis Redding. Redding defined soul music through his emotional, captivating voice, and he has hence earned his legacy as the “King of Soul.”