How a genre of music affects life expectancy of famous musicians in that genre


That is from Dianne Theodora Kenny, via Ted Gioia.  Kenny notes:

For male musicians across all genres, accidental death (including all vehicular incidents and accidental overdose) accounted for almost 20% of all deaths. But accidental death for rock musicians was higher than this (24.4%) and for metal musicians higher still (36.2%).

Suicide accounted for almost 7% of all deaths in the total sample. However, for punk musicians, suicide accounted for 11% of deaths; for metal musicians, a staggering 19.3%. At just 0.9%, gospel musicians had the lowest suicide rate of all the genres studied.

Murder accounted for 6.0% of deaths across the sample, but was the cause of 51% of deaths in rap musicians and 51.5% of deaths for hip hop musicians, to date.

Beware selection, because of course most rap musicians aren’t dead yet.  This problem will be more extreme, the younger is the genre.  Another selection effect may be that getting killed, or dying in an unusual way, contributes to your fame.


So bluesmen and country singers are most likely to die of broken hearts.

At least half of rappers who ever lived are still a live, so the data is off the rappers who have died, ~50 percent died of homicide.

It says that ~50% of deaths were homicides, not ~50% of rappers have been victims of homicides.

I read the link, but not to the end of this post, apologies.

Back in the 1970s it seemed to me that symphony conductors lived a long time on average.

If you go to Google and type in

famous conductors

you get a few dozen along with their birthdates. In the century after Mahler's early death, famous conductors seem quite long-lived. Of course, there could be some kind of selection effect in that fame is perhaps more cumulative in conducting than in most other fields in the arts.

But I wouldn't be surprised if conductors just tended to be healthy, happy individuals with fulfilling work that's not too exhausting -- because most symphony orchestras are unionized, a tyrannical conductor can't keep them rehearsing all night.

I've only met one famous conductor, Barenboim, but he struck me as a generally superior individual. My assumption is that most conductors are similarly personally impressive.

Jerry Lee Lewis is 79
Little Richard is 82
Chuck Berry is 88

Wow ...

Outliers then...

Is Chuck Berry still performing live? What a show man!

Mick Jagger is 103.

Only the good die young.

Heard Keith Richards died a long time ago but nobody bothered to tell him...

They skipped the embalming.

How do they differentiate between Rap and Hip-Hop? AFAIK, they are the same thing.

You are automatically racist just for asking this, but I will answer anyway.

It was all called "Rap" through the 80s and at least part of the 90s, but it had the very obvious problem that it rhymed with "crap," which it was. Just too easy to criticize, you see. So much like "global warming," it needed a new name.

In short, the solution was to refer to the "artist" as a rapper who raps, but to change the musical genre name itself to hip-hop.

In long -- and I swear I'm not making this up, it comes from Ebony magazine -- you will sometimes hear "rap" used when referring to the music itself, while "hip-hop" refers to the entire culture of the musicians, which encompasses not only rap, but also -- I swear to God -- graffiti. And finally, you will sometimes hear "rap" used when referring to the musicians who are angst-ridden misogynist criminals, while "hip-hop" is reserved for the more positive danceable stuff.

I hope this helps.

"but it had the very obvious problem that it rhymed with “crap,” "

My nonagenarian father called it yap music.

Your father was right.

What a bizarre attempt to differentiate between hip-hop and rap... you're half right and half friggin' crazy.

Let me break it down for you correctly: essentially there were four elements of hip-hop culture where it originated in the Bronx: break dancing, DJing, MCing (aka rapping) and, yes, Graffiti Writing. The itself was always called hip-hop by those who created it - rap simply referred to what the MC did on the mic. But as the music blew up and went commercial in the 80s, record labels and the music media conflated the terms so that "rap" became a synonym for the music itself.

For a while the two were more or less interchangeable, but these days "rap" tends to refer to the more pop-friendly, commercialized, crossover end of the genre, while hip-hop tends to be a bit more hardcore, or conscious or underground... basically the stuff that will only get played on dedicated hip hop radio or the mixtape circuit...

Hope that helps.

I wonder if heart attacks and cancer would show any difference between groups (besides noise) if one corrected for age.

The suicide vs homicide numbers seem a bit odd even excluding rap and hip-hop. Generally one expects suicides to outnumber homicides by a 2-1 ratio but here they seem to be even. I'm guessing this is due to a couple things, first suicides tend to be older and older artists might be retired or grown obscure, and second, professional success plays a role in many suicides so you have another selection effect hiding the suicides of low-fame artists.

My unscientific impression is that I've been seeing a lot of guys who were stars in the cocaine era of 1975-1985 checking out early due to strokes and heart attacks, but I could be completely wrong about this, too.

Famous musicians are not like normal people. They have higher risk lifestyles and more overall stress.
Spouses kill you when you sleep with roadies. They're also far more likely to be killed by fans (e.g., John Lennon)

As for accidents, they travel FAR more than typical people. They also travel by higher risk means like small private planes vs. commercial airlines.

Why did they separated Rap from Hip-hop? Both are more similar than some people try to make and results are there to tell.

Accident rate appears to track group size; genres with more solo artists (R&B, gospel) having lower rates and genres with a tendency for groups of 4-5 having higher rates. I.e. more "musicians" die when a rock group's plane crashes than when an R&B singer's does.

Genre labels are determined by marketing divisions, by artists (in their capacity of self-promoters) who want a new niche to exploit, by fans who want a different music to construct a social identity from, and by critics who want to a field of expertise.
Typically, musicians don't like labels. But they need their product to be classified in order to be sold.
If you don't believe me, ask Charles Mingus.

Should we infer from this that all classical musicians already are dead? deathless?

Jazz musicians smoke to excess, metal guys are bad drivers.

Jazz musicians work in smoky environments, or at least used to.
If you did 40 years ago, you might get lung cancer now.

"Affects" is not the right word here, as it assumes cause and effect. "Correlates with" might be a better choice. It's just as, if not more likely that someone is attracted to a particular genre of music because of factors already present in their personalities that also correlate wtih particular lifestyles.

Well there are some strong links with some diseases. Cancer is mostly a disease of the old for instance.

So the conclusion seems to be:

1. Blues, Country and R&B musicians are fat slobs,
2. Jazz and Folk musicians are boring and old,
3. Believing in God is clearly good for your health, especially where suicide is concerned, but being a Pop Princess is not too bad for you either,
4. People who pretend to like Tibetan music are too young to die of anything,
5. Punk and to a lesser extent Rock musicians are thick. Metal ones are thick and depressed
6. Rap and Hip Hop musicians are violent thugs.

This is a surprise to anyone?

The Ramones could get their own line on this chart.

Why isn't there a separate category for drug overdoses? I am left to assume that "accidental" is a euphamism.

"For male musicians across all genres, accidental death (including all vehicular incidents and accidental overdose................"

Most of time overdoses are accidental, people partying too hard. Not everybody wants to die. If there are accidental alcohol overdoses, why other drugs would be different? Every blackout is unaccomplished suicide?

I said separate category, not "combine with suicide".

Afterthought: how would the data in the proffered chart correlate with membership (and appeals to membership) in the 27 Club?

But where are the other independent variables to control for confounding factors?

The data should list the chance of death *per year of life* for each of the various causes. While that would suck less, it would still suck, given that some genres have much higher average ages, and certain risks go down with age (violent death) while others go up (heart disease). Instead they should draw a plot of - say - the risk of suicide by life year. So for example, how likely is a 27 year old folk musician to commit suicide, compared to a 27 year old member of a metal band? What about at 37?

The notion that 6% of the deaths are due to homicide strains credulity, even after accounting for the rappers and hip-hoppers (and for that matter punks, metal heads, etc.) who are too young to have died from old age yet.

I suspect that the problem is their data sources, which are going to be heavy on notorious deaths: "Data on age, circumstances and manner of death were accessed from over 200 sources including The Dead Rock Stars’ Club; Nick Tavelski’s (2010) Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Rock Obituaries, Pop star mortality; R.I.P. Encyclopaedia Metallicum; Voices from the Dark Side for Dead Metal Musicians; Wikipedia’s List of Dead Hip Hop Artists and Hip Hop obituaries".

If indeed they wish to focus on famous musicians, then they'd be better advised to use a different sampling procedure: members of the rock & roll hall of fame, or creators of platinum albums, or Top 40 hits, or etc.

It's faulty demographic methodologies such as this which lead to bogus results such as the one from a few decades ago, which said that single women over 40 had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than of getting married.

This could probably be a sub-category of How Not To Do Statistics: ridiculous demographic or survival/duration statistics generated by people who fail to correct for sample bias, survivor bias, cohort effects, etc. etc.

For heaven's sake, why have you omitted classical music? This chart is absolutely worthless without it.

The data seems not to correct for the age of the cohorts. You can't compare a bunch of electronic musicians few past 40 with Jazz musicians.

Ile z ceną paliwa nic nie możemy zrobić to już jeśli
chodzi ubezpieczenie samochodu są pewne możliwości manewru.

I see people responding to the "study" as if it included classical (or "serious" music), but it does not!
It would be nice if someone actually studied that domain but, unfortunately, that whole world of what used to be considered "elite" music seems to have left the world. I almost never watch the "Grammy" awards any more because there's never more than a few seconds devoted to that sort of music.
I agree with the commentator who noted that symphony conductors seem to live long. My guess is that their work requires hours of aerobic exercises. It has to be good for them.

I guess they didn't include classical musicians because they live longest and the healthiest. Many famous classical players perform into their late 80's and 90's.

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