And the band played onÖ
Their status as icons is assured, brief lives defined by the solar flare of success and a premature death on the altar of rock. In 1965, Pete Townsend offered his infamous prayer for a generation in a song by The Who: "I hope I die before I get old." Many had the prayer answered.
Keith Moon ... Brian Jones Ö Michael Hutchence Ö Richey Edwards Ö Ian Curtis Ö Kurt Cobain Ö John Bonham.
You could add Paul Kossoff, the guitarist with Free; Sid Vicious; Duane Allman; Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy.
The latest is Jon Lee, 33, the drummer with the successful Welsh rock band, Feeder. Lee hanged himself on Monday in the Florida home he shared with his wife and son. His death came as the group consolidated its reputation with sell-out tours and the 100,000-seller album, Echo Park. The dead drummer was due to fly home to appear on Top of the Pops.
Lee appeared to have everything to live for, but apparently that was not true and his death has left his colleagues to wonder if they can pick up the pieces.
There is often no way back for a band thus damaged - not just musicians, but a fusion of friendship, talent and ambition. The demise of some charismatic giants, such as John "Bonzo" Bonham, the drummer of Led Zeppelin, and Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana front man, can kill bands stone dead. Bonham choked to death after a "drinkfest" in September 1980. A month later Zeppelin folded after 12 years.
Cobainís Nirvana sank after he shot himself in 1994.
Many groups, however, have overcome tragedy to maintain creative flow, most notably the Rolling Stones after the loss of Brian Jones, the founder of the ageless band.
And Townsendís Who certainly stalled after the death of Keith Moon, their wild-man drummer, but went on to achieve the status of rock royalty.
More recently, the Manic Street Preachers overcame the loss of guitarist, Richey Edwards, the bandís lyricist. Edwards disappeared near the Severn Bridge on the Welsh-English border in 1995. He is presumed dead and his loss to the four-piece Welsh band, at the top since 1992, was immense. But they recently released Know Your Enemy , their third album as a trio. The bassist, Nicky Wire, says: "After six years, the band are better equipped to deal with the loss of Richey, not just as a member, but a friend.
"We are acclimatised. We didnít deal with it very well until about two years ago, and then we found some peace, found we could get on with things a lot better."
The Preachersí fans believe the loss of Edwards mellowed the band, took away the "edginess", the anger of Edwardsí lyrics, but they believe that the latest album has recaptured the spirit. Wire adds: "It is six years since Richey disappeared. That is a long time, and you find you have got to move on. People find it hard to get past the fact he was as a member of Manic Street Preachers, but he was a friend first. I had known him since I was ten. "
Joy Division, the most influential post-punk Britrock band of the 1970s, also survived the death of its charismatic lead, Ian Curtis, but only by evolving through a series of acrimonious splits before emerging as New Order. "New Order from Old Disarray," quips Peter "Hooky" Hook, the bassist.
Initially, the band thrived, but became more famous for its disputes. Hook believes the band was bigger than any one member and New Order have recently released their first studio album since 1993. "In the end, we looked after ourselves, like cutting the apron strings and going into the big world. That made it easier," says Hook.
Reports of the demise of INXS, in the wake of the suicide of their magnetic lead singer, Michael Hutchence, also appear to have been exaggerated.
Hutchence was discovered hanging in his Sydney hotel room in 1997. The band went back on the road almost immediately with a one-off gig featuring Terence Trent DíArby as guest lead singer, but many thought it a token gesture.
But INXS toured New Zealand with Jon Stevens, formerly of Noiseworks, as the lead singer. Garry Beers, for the band, says: "As far as recording, the boys are taking baby steps, but theyíd love to get back in the studio. Jon Stevens kind of chose himself for the band and we love him for it."
Stevens first squeezed into Hutchenceís leather trousers singing INXS hits at two Australian concerts. "INXS are better than ever," adds Beers. "The audiences went nuts, so delighted to see them back on the stage.
"People came from America, from all over the place because they were so happy the band were playing.
"I think there are a lot of fans waiting to see whether it will extend to something else, but everyone is delighted to hear the guys are going to put Michaelís death in the past and move forward. Everyone and everything has to move forward."
In another era, the Stones did just that in 1969 when Brian Jones, 27, high on drugs and drink, drowned in his swimming pool.
Bill Wyman, the bandís bassist, says: "If ever a man genuinely lived the rockíníroll life, it was Brian. The band would not have existed without him; many of the attitudes and sounds of the 1960s were developed from his style and determination.
"He was the archetypal middle-class kid screaming to break away from his background and when he did it, he hammered it across to the world with commitment."
Stephen Davis, the Stonesí biographer, believes the band survived, in spite of the loss of Jones, the founder and the embodiment of the bandís "glamorous ugliness", because Jones had already been "chewed up and spat out" by the time of his death. "Jagger and Richards filled the vacuum." The rotating-door "third-man" position was taken by Mick Taylor, a fantastic soloist, whose important work went unrecognised. Finally, Ronnie Wood was drafted in because he was a "yes man".
Creatively the Stones became the Stones. Their detractors say they were only good for about "five minutes in the mid-1970s", but by that time they had achieved iconic status that predicated longevity.
Jim deRogatis, a musicologist, says: "The Stones turned to a fluid young guitarist, Mick Taylor, and a glittering cast of supporting players that included Jack Nitzche, Ry Cooder, Al Kooper, Leon Russell, Byron Berline, Bobby Keys and Merry Clayton.
Their contemporary icons, The Who, fared less well. Keith Moon died in 1978 after taking medication to control his alcoholism. His death still haunts Roger Daltrey and Townsend. Both feel it is only now that they are achieving some of the spirit that was lost by Moonís death.
Daltrey, 56, says: "There was a lot for us to go through to get to this point, not just the death of Keith but our own personal problems, our own ways of dealing with each other.
"Kenny Jones, who replaced Moon in 1979, was wonderful, but he had a different style, and I think after a while we realised he didnít gel with us." Ironically, it was the introduction on drums of Zak Starkey, the son of Ringo Starr, that allowed the group to turn the corner.
Daltrey adds: "Zak is much more like Keith. He was raised to play like Keith."
Townsend says: "Keith was brilliant, madcap and his loss haunted us.
"I thought that rockíníroll was a different form of show business. I thought it clocked something different about the human spirit and about the artistic process, and, of course, it didnít."
The success of one of Scotlandís most influential groups, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band was ended by the death by natural causes in 1983 of Alex Harvey. Bizarrely, however, it was the death of Harveyís brother, Les, that sparked the group to its greatest success.
Les Harvey was in Stone The Crows with veteran Scots rock singer, Maggie Bell, when he was freakishly electrocuted on stage in 1972.
His death prompted Alex Harvey to work his new band relentlessly and their theatrical rock style achieved cult status.
Barry McCloud, a musicologist, believes premature death can enshrine its star victim and enhance the reputation of his band.
"Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Moon, Joplin, and might have gone on, but they could have ended on the golden-oldie circuit.
"We have dual standards. Most of these heroes died because they were weak. Letís not forget that even Elvis met a premature end."
||Great article, I like this quote by Bill Wyman:
Bill Wyman, the bandís bassist, says: "If ever a man genuinely lived the rockíníroll life, it
was Brian. The band would not have existed without him; many of the attitudes and
sounds of the 1960s were developed from his style and determination.
"He was the archetypal middle-class kid screaming to break away from his background
and when he did it, he hammered it across to the world with commitment."