Ian Curtis (1956-1980)
The troubled vocalist of the legendary post-punk band Joy Division committed suicide on the eve of what would have been his band’s first North American tour in support of the Buzzcocks.
Stretford born Curtis – whose baritone voice, bleak poetics lyrics and frantic on-stage dancing would make him an indie icon – suffered throughout his short life with crippling epilepsy and depression, and was besieged by difficulties in his marriage to wife Deborah at the time of his death.
Curtis was found dead in his kitchen at 77 Barton Street in Macclesfield on 18th May 1980, having just watched Werner Herzog’s Stroszek (eerily a film about the American Dream becoming a nightmare) and listened to Iggy Pop’s The Idiot. He was just 23 years old.
His memorial stone is based in Macclesfield cemetery off Prestbury Road, but the original had to be replaced after it was sadly uprooted and stolen in July 2008. The new stone, like the original, is inscribed with “Ian Curtis 18 – 5 – 80” and the title of what would (posthumously for Curtis) become the band’s most famous song, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart.’
Location: Macclesfield cemetery, Prestbury Road, Macclesfield, England SK10 3BU
Jeff Buckley (1966-1997)
An alternative rocker with a singular voice (he possessed a tenor vocal range that could reach four octaves), Jeff Buckley came to prominence with one of the most acclaimed rock records of the 1990s – and the only one completed in his brief lifetime – entitled Grace.
Buckley was born in Anaheim, California on 17th November 1966, the son of Mary Guibert and the notable folk singer Tim who died when he was very young from a heroin overdose. The junior Buckley worked hard to emerge from the shadow of his famous father by immersing himself in New York City’s avant-garde club scene, playing regularly sets at the small cafe Sin-é, where he recorded his first live EP.
A year later the studio recorded Grace was released, and the record captured his powerhouse vocals, songwriting prowess and guitar histrionics perfectly, and though sales were initially slow, critics and musicians such as Bob Dylan, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page lined up to pay tribute to his talent.
But in 1997 Buckley would tragically die in the process of recording his eagerly anticipated second record; pulled underwater by a passing boat after taking a spontaneous evening swim in the Wolf River near Memphis. His body was discovered days later.
Buckley’s memorial marker is in the city closest to where he died: specifically in the Memphis Zoo near to the Sumatran Tigers. The marker reads: To out beloved “Scottie” – Our tears will never dry… ’til we kiss you again (Scottie Moorhead was Buckley’s childhood name taken from his stepfather).”
Location: Memphis Zoo, 2000 Prentiss Place, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA 38112
Sterling Morrison (1942-1995)
One of the founding members of the seminal New York rock group the Velvet Underground, Sterling Morrison was a revered figure in American underground rock.
Born Holmes Sterling Morrison, Jr. on 29th August 29, 1942, a young Morrison met Moe Tucker through a friendship with her brother Jim, before meeting Lou Reed also via Jim whilst studying English at the City College of New York. Morrison would eventually be invited to join a band he was creating with John Cale, and one of the greatest bands of all time began in earnest.
Morrison predominantly played electric guitar in the group (occasionally filling in on bass guitar), and his more conventional style dovetailed neatly with Reed’s avant-garde leanings. He also sang backing vocals on many of the band’s songs before quitting in 1971 after Reed and Tucker had already departed.
In his post-Velvet years Morrison worked on boats in Houston as well as playing occasionally with The Bizarros and supporting Tucker and Cale with their projects. Morrison also contributed lead guitar to the songs ‘Friendly Advice’ and ‘Great Jones Street’ on the Luna album Bewitched, givingDean Wareham a chance to work with the man he idolised.
Near the end of 1994 Morrison learned that he had contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His health deteriorated quite rapidly and he a day after his 53rd birthday on 30th August 30, 1995.
Morrison is buried in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery in New York, his gravestone bearing his name, years alive and the words ‘Rock on’.
Location: Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, 342 South Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York, USA 12601
Hillel Slovak (1962-1988)
The original guitarist and a founding member of funk rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, Israeli American Hillel Slovak became yet another rocker to become a casualty of heroin addiction when he overdosed in June 1988.
Born on 13th April 1962 in Haifa, Israel, Slovak moved with his family to the US in 1967 at the age of 5, and they settled in Los Angeles. And it was at high school in L.A. that Slovak first met with Anthony Kiedis, Michael Peter Balzary (later known as Flea) and Jack Irons. A couple of short lived groups were started by Slovak and Irons before they founded the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1982.
The band began to gain a cult following in the L.A. area, but Slovak quit as they were about to record their debut LP to work with his previous band What Is This? But in 1985 he had a change of heart and rejoined the Peppers, recording the albums Freaky Styley and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan with them. His funk inspired guitar work became the defining sound of the band’s early work, but during his time in the Peppers he developed a heroin addiction, and missed several shows due to withdrawal symptoms.
His attempts to get clean ultimately failed, and police found him dead in his apartment after suffering an overdose on 25th June 1988 at the age of 26. His gravestone is in the Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles, in the Maimonides 26, Lot 4613, Space 1.
Slovak was eventually replaced by John Frusciante in the band (who would fight his own battle with heroin). In 2012 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Location: Mount Sinai Memorial Park, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, Calfornia, USA 90068
Alternative rock heroes not buried: Lou Reed (1942-2013), Elliott Smith (1969-2003), Dave Alexander of The Stooges (1947-1975) Bob Stinson of The Replacements (1959-1995)