Widely heralded as “the King of rock ‘n’ roll”, the man born Elvis Aaron Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi should need little introduction.
The biggest selling solo artist of all time, Presley was without doubt one of the most important and famous cultural icons of the 20th century, and he continues to have a significant impact on rock ‘n’ roll music and culture today.
Presley moved with his family from Tupelo to Memphis, Tennessee aged 13 and the rest, as they say, is history. He hooked up with Sun Records owner Sam Phillips in 1954 and soon became the biggest star in rock ‘n’ roll.
No. 1 Chart hits such as ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’, ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ (and many, many others), coupled with his electric, sexually charged performances on TV and in concert, made him a household name in the late 1950s in United States and then the world.
Presley also tried his hand at acting, making several feature films including 1956’s Love Me Tender and 1958’s Jailhouse Rock.
But years of heavy prescription drug use, a poor diet and overeating severely deteriorated his health, and he died on 16 August 1977 at the age of 42 in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion.
His funeral was held at Graceland two days later, with tens of thousands of fans turning up on the processional route to mourn their hero. He was initially buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, but following an attempt to steal his body in late August, the remains of both Presley and his mother were moved from the plot and he was reburied in Graceland’s Meditation Garden.
Location: Graceland, 3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee, United States 38116
The charismatic lead singer of The Doors was famously found dead in the bathtub of his Paris apartment in June 1971 by his girlfriend Pamela Courson.
A controversial rock ‘n’ roll icon who became known for his wild, sexually charged performances and bohemian persona, Morrison’s brooding, poetic lyrics were often complemented by the eerie organ of bandmate Ray Manzarek.
The band scored several hit singles (including ‘Light My Fire’ and ‘Riders On The Storm’) and a couple of acclaimed records in their relatively brief lifetime, but have become even more popular in the years following Morrison’s death.
The self-styled Lizard King is one of the most renowned members of the so-called ’27 Club’ of musicians who died aged 27, and a prime example of the “live fast, die young” attitude that has been widely associated with rock ‘n’ roll since the late 1960s.
His final resting place is in the city where he spent his final months, in the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France alongside the likes of writer Oscar Wilde, singer Édith Piaf and composer Frédéric Chopin.
Location: Père Lachaise Cemetery, Rue du Repos, Paris, France 75020
The man born Johnny Allen Hendrix (and later known as simply “Jimi”) changed rock music forever.
Born in Seattle on November 27, 1942, Hendrix very quickly became one of the most influential and innovative electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and is regularly listed as the best of all time in retrospective lists.
His career in music was unfortunately brief yet sensational. After being granted an honourable discharge from the US Army in 1962, Hendrix set about changing the face of rock music with his own brand of psychedelic and experimental rock.
A career as a studio player and a sideman was never going to be a good fit for a man of his talents, and soon after Hendrix moved to England in 1966 he become an international superstar. Hendrix formed The Experience with Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding in 1966, and the band released three studio albums and a host of singles in three very fertile years.
Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland are almost universally recognised as unimpeachable classics in the rock canon, and all three were duly featured in the top 100 of Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Songs like ‘The Wind Cries Mary’, ‘All Along The Watchtower’, Foxy Lady’, ‘If 6 Was 9’ and ‘Crosstown Traffic’, to name just a few, are also hailed as first-rate, and have since become rock standards. Hendrix and the Experience were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
These incredible records and singles, as well as the charismatic live performances at the likes of the Monterrey Pop Festival in 1968 and Woodstock in 1969, made Hendrix an international rock icon. Unfortunately though, the wild frontman would soon pay the price for his bohemian ways with narcotics.
Whilst the exact details of Hendrix’s last hours are still widely disputed, what is certain is that he died on September 17, 1970, in London with then girlfriend Monika Dannemann by his side.The coroner’s report at the time concluded that Hendrix had aspirated his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates.
Hendrix’s body was flown to his home town of Seattle, and he was eventually interred at Greenwood Cemetery in Renton, Washington, the location of his mother’s grave. The rock legend’s remains were later moved to a lavish new memorial in the southwestern corner of the cemetery. The majestic domed memorial site, which features a nearly 30-foot-high granite dome supported by three pearl-gray columns trimmed in “rainbow” marble, was the brainchild of the Hendrix’s proud father, Al Hendrix, and provides fans with an amazing setting in which to pay their tributes. The cemetery is not gated, and Hendrix fans can visit any time between dawn to dusk.
Al, who died in 2002, now rests beside his beloved son, whose remains were moved here in 2003.
Other notable Hendrix-related memorials worldwide include a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (dedicated to him on November 14, 1991, and placed at 6627 Hollywood Boulevard), an English Heritage blue plaque at his former residence at 23 Brook Street, London, a memorial statue of him playing a Stratocaster near the corner of Broadway and Pine Streets in Seattle, and a park renamed in his honour in the same city.
Location: Greenwood Memorial Park, 350 Monroe Ave N.E. Renton, Washington, United States 98056
The founder and original leader of English rockers The Rolling Stones, Brian Jones died in mysterious circumstances less than a month after he was kicked out of the band he began.
Born Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones on the 28th February 1942, Jones developed a taste for the blues in his teens. He began to learn slide guitar and a bunch of other instruments (such as piano and saxophone), and formed and named The Rolling Stones in 1962 as an English blues band.
Jones forged a strong guitar partnership initially with Keith Richards, with both men playing rhythm and lead parts together. But a few years on from their foundation, Richards and singer Mick Jagger began to assert control over the band and its musical direction, writing the majority of the group’s original material and pushing them away from merely recording covers of blues songs.
Finally, a combination of Jones’ drug dependency, his increasingly unreliable performances and a failure to see eye to eye with the band’s manager, got him kicked out the band and replaced by Mick Taylor in 1969. Less than a month after his firing, Jones was discovered drowned in the swimming pool at his home. An autopsy found he was under the influence of drugs at the time of death, but murder theories have been mooted by some investigators.
Jones rests in Cheltenham Cemetery and Crematorium, in the town of his birth.
Location: Cheltenham Cemetery and Crematorium, Lane Prestbury, Cheltenham, England GL52 5LT
The hard-living frontman of Australian rockers AC/DC, the short but eventful life of Bon Scott ensured him a place in rock ‘n’ roll folklore.
Born Ronald Belford Scott on 9 July 1946 in Forfar, Scotland, the young Scott and his family emigrated from Scotland to Australia in 1952.
The Scotts eventually settled in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1956, and young Bon soon started to get himself into both music and trouble.
After plying his trade in several Aussie bands including The Spektors and Fraternity, Scott joined AC/DC in 1974, replacing Dave Evans as the lead vocalist. He soon became known for his powerful singing voice which perfectly complimented the Young brothers’ powerful riffs, as well as for his wild antics on and off the stage.
AC/DC’s popularity grew steadily throughout the 1970s, firstly in their native Australia, and then across the world. Their breakthrough 1979 album Highway to Hell was a huge hit, reaching the top 20 in the United States, but it would sadly be the last album the band recorded with Scott before his death.
On 19 February 1980, Scott died after a night of heavy drinking out in London at the Music Machine (now KOKO). He was found unresponsive in a Renault he had attempted to sleep the rest of the night in. After much deliberation about whether to continue, AC/DC recruited vocalist Brian Johnson of the British glam rock band Geordie to fill the huge void left by Scott.
Their subsequent album, the superb Back in Black, was dedicated to Scott’s memory. It was released only five months after his passing aged 33 of acute alcohol poisoning, and went on to become one of the best-selling albums in music history.
Scott’s body was eventually cremated and his ashes interred at Fremantle Cemetery in Fremantle, Western Australia. As Scott’s legend has grown over the years the grave site in Fremantle has become a cultural landmark, and more than 28 years after Scott’s death the National Trust of Australia proclaimed it as a place of classified heritage.
In July 2006 the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board completed refurbishments on the area, adding a Bon Scott Arch and Memorial Entrance gate to mark what would have been the singer’s 60th birthday.
Location: Fremantle Cemetery, Palmyra, Western Australia, Australia 6157
Another early pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll, the man born Charles Hardin Holley in 1936 made a significant mark on popular culture in his tragically short life.
Buddy Holly died aged just 22, having recorded three albums in his painfully short career. But his influence on the burgeoning musical style of rock ‘n’ roll has proved to be hugely significant.
Inspired by an Elvis Presley show in his hometown of Lubbock, Holly formed a band he named the Crickets and set about redefining rock ‘n’ roll.
With his trademark black spectacles and boyish good looks, Holly – like Elvis – became a teen idol several years before The Beatles, thrilling fans with a host of hit singles and electric appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Hits such as ‘Peggy Sue’ and ‘I’m Gonna Love You Too’ created a new energy in rock ‘n’ roll, and indebted bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles soon followed his lead.
Tragically, his life was cut short on 3 February 1959, when the small plane he was travelling in crashed in a blizzard near Clear Lake, Iowa. Band-mates Ritchie Valens and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, plus the pilot were all killed in the crash, but Waylon Jennings life was spared when he opted to take the bus instead.
Holly has inspired many artists and songs since, with his own inimitable style and music inspiring covers from the likes of The Rolling Stones (‘Not Fade Away’), John Lennon (‘Peggy Sue’) and Blondie (‘I’m Gonna Love You Too’) and tributes from artists as diverse as Don McClean (‘American Pie’) and Weezer (‘Buddy Holly’). McClean famously referred to the death of Holly in Iowa as ‘the day the music died’ in that ubiquitous song.
Holly’s final resting place is in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas, in the City of Lubbock Cemetery. His small headstone features a Fender Stratocaster and reads simply: In loving memory of our own Buddy Holley (sic) September 7 1936 – February 3 1959.
There is also a Buddy Holly museum in his hometown named the ‘Buddy Holly Center’ that is worth checking out for fans. Opening in 1999, the Center boasts Holly memorabilia, fine arts and much more inside its doors.
Location: City of Lubbock Cemetery, East 31st Street, Lubbock, Texas, United States 79404
A founding member of the legendary surf-rock group The Beach Boys along with his brothers Brian and Dennis and cousin Mike Love, Carl Wilson was the second of the three Wilson brothers to pass away.
Wilson was the rhythm guitarist for the group, as well as a backing and occasional lead vocalist. A deeply spiritual man, he famously sang lead vocals on the band’s revered classic ‘God Only Knows’ from their most widely acclaimed record Pet Sounds.
Wilson also released two solo albums in the early 1980s, but it is for his work with The Beach Boys that he is best known.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997 but continued to perform with the band during his chemotherapy treatment. He eventually lost his battle with the illness on 6 February 1998, surrounded by his family in Los Angeles.
His grave can be found in Plot D of the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park in the Los Angeles, and reads: ‘The Heart and Voice of an Angel – Carl Dean Wilson – The World is a Far Lesser Place Without You.’
Location: Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, 1218 Glendon Avenue, Los Angeles, California, United States 90024
A key component of the seminal Canadian/American roots rock act The Band, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Rick Danko was born in Ontario, Canada in December 1942.
The Band became one of the most critically acclaimed groups of the late 1960s, capturing the world’s attention with their literate roots-rock and classic albums Music From Big Pink and The Band. The talented ensemble of musicians toured extensively, initially as Bob Dylan’s backing group, and their rollicking live performances earned them much praise.
Danko predominantly played bass in the group, as well as singing lead vocals on classics like ‘Caledonia Mission’, ‘When You Awake’ and ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’. It was Danko who sought out found the group their “Big Pink” home where they rehearsed and composed much of their early material.
After The Band played The Last Waltz in 1976 Danko remained active musically, as a solo artist, with other musicians and as a part of later incarnations of The Band.
He died in his sleep from apparent heart failure on the night of 10 December 1999. He is buried in Woodstock Cemetery alongside his late son Eli, and in the same cemetery as his friend, former band-mate and rhythm section companion, Levon Helm.
Location: Woodstock Cemetery, Rock City Road, Woodstock, Ulster County, New York, United States
The highly respected drummer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist for The Band (as well as a solo artist and occasional actor), Levon Helm is sorely missed by fans worldwide.
The only American in the acclaimed roots-rock group and kindred spirits of Bob Dylan, he was born Mark Lavon Helm in Elaine, Arkansas in May 1940.
Helm soon became known for his innovative and fluid drumming style and incredibly soulful voice, singing lead vocal on Band classics like ‘The Weight’, ‘I Shall Be Released’, ‘Up On Cripple Creek’ and ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’.
Helm was influenced by country, R&B and blues music in his youth, and watching the Grand Ole Opry inspired him to follow his musical dreams.
His acting career saw him feature in films such as Coal Miner’s Daughter, The Right Stuff and the Mark Wahlberg action thriller Shooter.
Helm died aged 71 on 19 April 2012 after a long and arduous battle with cancer, a disease which he was first diagnosed with back in 1998. He is buried in the Woodstock Cemetery, the same resting place as his rhythm section partner and good friend Rick Danko.
Location: Woodstock cemetery, Rock City Road, Woodstock, Ulster County, New York, United States
Richard Manuel was the much loved pianist and primary singer of The Band. Born on the 3rd April 1943 in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, he was a member of the original lineup from 1967 to 1976 and the re-formed group from 1983 until his death in 1986 from suicide at the age of just 42.
Manuel’s virtuoso piano playing and singing (that garnered him favourable comparisons to Ray Charles) became a key component of The Band’s sound throughout their existence, and lit up the group’s celebrated trio of records Music From Big Pink, The Band and Stage Fright. He was also proficient with the drums and played them whenever Levon Helm was otherwise engaged. Like his bandmates, his career was closely linked with that of Bob Dylan from the late 1960s onwards.
Sadly, Manuel life was marred by substance abuses issues throughout his time in the spotlight (particularly alcohol), and he also suffered with bouts of depression.
After a Band show in Florida in early March 1986, he was seen to be upset and frustrated by something by his wife, and in the early hours of the morning was found hanging in the bathroom by her when she awoke, an empty bottle of liquor and a small bag of cocaine near his body.
Manuel is buried in the Avondale Cemetery in Stratford, Ontario where he was born.
With his mop of unruly hair, stage showmanship and effortless cool, the lead singer, principle songwriter and bassist of Irish rock group Thin Lizzy Phil Lynott was a bone fide rockstar.
Born in August 1949 in West Bromwich, England to a Brazilian father and Irish mother, Lynott moved to the Republic of Ireland at a young age and was raised by his grandmother there.
Before forming the successful Thin Lizzy, Lynott honed his talents in the bands Black Eagles, Skid Row and Orphanage.
He founded Thin Lizzy back in 1970 along with pals Eric Bell (lead guitar) and Brian Downey (drums). The band quickly earned a local following on the Dublin circuit and made their commercial breakthrough with a rock cover of the traditional Irish folk song ‘Whisky In The Jar’.
Nonetheless, personnel changes were made by Lynott, with guitarists Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham arriving to provide more muscle to the band’s sound. The band secured their biggest hit record two years later, with the multi-platinum selling Jailbreak.
The album contained Lynott’s most famous composition, ‘The Boys Are Back In Town,’ which became a UK Top 10 Hit and cracked the US Top 20. The group split up in 1984 when Lynott decided to embark on a solo career.
Lynott struggled with addiction for much of his adult life and died aged 36, 11 days after collapsing at his home on Christmas day following a drink and drug binge.
Around 300 mourners attended his memorial service on 9 January 1986 in Richmond, Surrey. He was buried back home at St. Fintan’s cemetery in Dublin. In the years following his death, his grieving mother and several of his old bandmates and friends have regularly visited the spot, as well as numerous amounts of rock ‘n’ roll pilgrims.
Furthermore, a life-size bronze statue of Lynott was unveiled in 2005 on Dublin’s Harry Street by his mother and his former band members Gary Moore, Eric Bell, Brian Robertson, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham and Darren Wharton.
Location: Saint Fintan’s Cemetery, Carrickbrack Road, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Widely regarded as one of the best and most influential drummers of all time (Rolling Stone magazine placed him as number 1 in their list of preeminent percussionists), John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham was the stickman for rock behemoths Led Zeppelin from their beginning in the mid-to-late 1960s to their disbandment following his death in September 1980.
Born on 31st May 1948 in Worcestershire, England, Bonham was recruited by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant for a post-Yardbirds project, and quickly became recognized for the speed and sheer power of his drumming, which provided Led Zeppelin with a uniquely powerful groove.
Bonham’s stick-work became a key component of the band’s sound, and he would provide some of the most memorable moments in their songbook, including the incredible, lengthy drum solos that light up ‘Moby Dick’.
But in September 1980 Bonham was found unresponsive in his bed by bassist John Paul Jones, and had reportedly downed up to 40 shots of 40% ABV vodka, after which he choked on his vomit. He was cremated and his ashes interred at St Michael Churchyard Rushock, Worcestershire.
Location: St Michael Churchyard Rushock, Wyre Forest District, Worcestershire, England
The lead vocalist and lyricist of the influential psychedelic rock band Love, Arthur Lee lived a turbulent life before succumbing to Leukemia in August 2006.
Born Arthur Peter Taylor in Memphis, Tennessee on the 7th March 1946, Lee played in a number of bands (including The Grass Roots) and composed several singles for others before forming a band with friend Johnny Echols they would eventually call Love.
As a mixed-race band, Love stood out in the late 1960s Los Angeles scene. Their first two LPs – Love and Da Capo were both released in 1966, but it is their ornate, darkly pessimistic masterpiece Forever Changes for which the band is best remembered. The now widely acclaimed third LP from the band was lyrically and musically out of step with the hippie optimism of the time, reflecting Lee’s doubts about the counterculture movement, cold war hysteria and his own mortality.
Lee would continue under the name Love even after the original members of the band had left or been fired. He then pursued a solo career and more new incarnations of the band before landing in prison in 1996 for a negligently discharged firearm. Lee would maintain his innocence throughout but eventually got out in December 2001.
In his final years Lee toured an acclaimed show dubbed ‘Love with Arthur Lee’ across the world, with a full band recreating the magic of Forever Changes alongside various hits. But in 2006 it was revealed he was battling acute myeloid leukemia, and in August of that year he sadly passed away. A tribute concert featuring Robert Plant, Yo La Tengo and Ryan Adams took place soon after. Lee’s gravestone is in the Forest Lawn Memorial – Hollywood Hills cemetery in Los Angeles.
Location: Forest Lawn Memorial – Hollywood Hills, Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, California, United States 90068
A founding member of the influential power-pop band Big Star, Christopher Bell was a key part of the thriving Memphis music scene in the 1970s.
Born and raised in The ‘Bluff City,’ Bell was the co-singer, songwriter and guitarist in Big Star. Along with Alex Chilton, he wrote many of what are the band’s best known songs (including ‘Feel’, ‘My Life Is Right’, and ‘Try Again’). He and Chilton both sang lead and backing vocals on their brilliant début album, #1 Record.
The duo was heavily influenced by The Beatles (and several other British Invasion bands), and could perhaps be justifiably described as an American Lennon/McCartney.
Bell quit the band after their début, despite positive critical notices, failed to sell more than 10,000 copies due largely to extremely poor record label distribution. Sadly, the band would find wider popularity and acclaim in the years after Bell’s death on 27 December 1978 in a car crash.
The spiritually minded Bell recorded several singles as a solo artist after leaving Big Star in 1972, working on music for the remainder of his short life. He is buried in the Memphis Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens in Bartlett, Shelby County, Tennessee and is yet another member of the doomed 27 Club.
Location:Memphis Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens,3700 North Germantown Parkway, Bartlett, Shelby County, Tennessee, United States 8133
Best known as the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of power pop pioneers Badfinger, Pete Ham was born in Swansea, Wales in 1947. His band were the first signed to The Beatles’ label Apple Records in 1968.
Ham and Badfinger scored a number of hits throughout the early 1970s, including ‘Come And Get It’ ‘No Matter What’ and ‘Without You’ (which was covered by Harry Nilsson and landed him a coveted Ivor Novello Award). But they are perhaps best known for the tragedy that befell them, with both Ham and bandmate Tom Evans committing suicide.
The band’s manager Stan Polley was sued by Warner Bros. Records after an advance given to the band had vanished. But the scheming manager had disappeared, leaving the band without an advance and effectively penniless. With his financial pressures surrounding him, Ham hanged himself in his garage at the age of 27.
His gravestone is in the Morriston Cemetery in his hometown of Swansea.
A founding member of prominent British Invasion rock bands Small Faces and Faces, Ronnie Lane was a respected bass guitarist, songwriter and producer.
Born on the 1st April 1946, Lane played bass in the Small Faces from 1965–69 and the Rod Stewart fronted Faces from 1969–73, achieving numerous hit singles with both bands before he decided to leave and form the group Slim Chance.
Tragedy would strike him though, when in 1977 he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Benefit concerts were held and several of his musician friends such as Rod Stewart and Jimmy Page and Ronnie Wood would help fund his treatment after he moved to the USA.
Lane would however continued to make music for many years, and in 1984 relocated from the UK to Texas. He teamed up with other musicians in this period as well as working on solo work, but finally succumbed to a bout of pneumonia brought on by the disease in 1997, at the age of 51.
Lane was living in Trinidad, Colorado with his wife at the time of his death and is buried in the Masonic Cemetery there.
Location: Masonic Cemetery, 13050 Nevada Avenue, Trinidad, Colorado, USA 81082
Rock ‘n’ roll stars not buried: John Lennon of The Beatles (1940-1980), Alex Chilton of Big Star (1950-2010), Ray Manzarek of The Doors (1939-2013), Janis Joplin (1943-1970), Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead (1942-1995) Tom Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival (1941-1990), Steve Marriott of Small Faces (1947-1991), Glenn Frey of The Eagles (1948-2016)