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Musieksterre lewe baie korter as res van ons

popstars popstars2

Alles is nie wonderlik in die land van pop- en rock-musiek nie.  So sê prof. Diana Kenny van die Universiteit van Sydney.  Volgens ’n berig in The Sydney Morning Herald lewe pop- en rocksterre baie korter as die res van ons.

Prof. Diana Kenny het haar studie gebaseer op musikante wat tussen 1950 en Junie 2014 oorlede is.  Haar gevolgtrekking is dat die moontlikheid dat jy onverwags kan doodgaan tussen vyf en tien keer groter is wanneer jy musiek maak as wanneer jy net daarna luister.


It doesn’t pay to be a pop star if you want a healthy life and definitely not if you want a long one.

Research from a University of Sydney academic suggests musicians, both male and female, have a shorter lifespan on average than the rest of the community. The difference is hardly insignificant too, with pop and rock stars likely to die up to 25 years earlier than their regular living compatriots and the chances of an accidental death being between five and 10 times greater if you make music rather than merely listen to it.

As reported on the academic website, professor of psychology and music, Diana Kenny, examined US statistics and compared deaths in the general community with musicians who died between 1950 and June 2014. The musicians were predominantly – 90 per cent – male but spread across more than a dozen genres from honky tonk to electroclash.

While the average age of death for women reached above 80 by 2010 and that for men was just over 75, the average age for female musicians was early 60s and for men, late 50s. Breaking down the causes of death, Kenny’s research shows death by accident more than doubled for musicians (12.2  per cent compared with 5.01) and similarly with suicides (4.6 compared with 1.59), and that deaths by homicide were about six times more likely for musicians than the general population (4.9 compared with 0.7).
Forget the “27 Club”, the much mythologised ‘fatal’ age for rock and pop stars which includes Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain and a host of lesser knowns, this research suggests even if your average musician avoids that trap, longevity is by no means assured.


The good news in Professor Kenny’s research may be that some of the differences between musicians and the general population have narrowed and that we are currently experiencing something less than the peak years of homicide and suicide and considerably fewer deaths by accident.

On the figures provided, a quarter of musicians died by accident in the late 1950s and early ’60s – maybe all those plane and road crashes which took lives like Patsy Cline and Buddy Holly? – and a fifth of them were still dying in this manner in the ’70s, when the likes of Duane Allman and members of Lynyrd Skynyrd were killed on roads and in the air. As at 2010, that rate had been more than halved, albeit after a brief peak in and around 1990.
The early 1990s, when Cobain took his own life, were the peak years for death by suicide. At that time, what had been a steady climb from less than 2 per cent of musician deaths in 1950 to 5.9 per cent in 1980 massively escalated to 9.6 per cent.

That same 1990s period, when Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. were gunned down amid a cross-continental feud between the American hip-hop scenes, was when musician deaths by homicide peaked at 6.6 per cent. This was a dramatic turnaround after the previous high of 5.9 per cent in and around 1970 had been followed by a steady decline to 4 per cent a decade later.

Are there lessons to be drawn from any of this? Professor Kenny believes the music industry’s failure to “provide boundaries and to model and expect acceptable behaviour”, and in fact to “valorise” bad behaviour and choices has made music as a lifestyle “toxic”.

This, like her statistics and research, may yet be debated.


‘Austrliese professor in musiek en sielkunde het die lewe en sterfte van 12665 musikante in verskillende genres van populêre musiek bestudeer en bevind musikante gaan gemiddeld 25 jaar vroeër dood as mense in ander beroepe.

Al die musikante wat prof. Diana Kenny van die Universiteit van Sydney vir haar studie gebruik het, is tussen 1950 en Junie 2014 oorlede.

Haar gevolgtrekking is dat die moontlikeheid dat jy onverwags kan doodgaan tussen vyf en tien keer groter is wanneer jy musiek maak as wanneer jy net daarna luister, skryf The Sydney Morning Heral oor Kenny se studie