Idol Chatter

More than 30 years after the song told us “If there’s a rock ‘n roll heaven, you know they have a hell of a band,” British scientists have ploughed through a half-century’s worth of statistics–and, no doubt, several thousand pounds in grant money–to prove it. Rockers are two to three times as likely to die before they get old than the rest of us, according to researchers at the Centre for Public Health at John Moores University in Liverpool.
The most likely cause of death? Drugs and alcohol were behind more than a quarter of the premature fatalities, says the study in the Journal of Epidemial Community Health.
What took the laborati so long to certify the high risk of joining the glitterati? In fairness, rock is only recently old enough as a musical phenomenon to provide sufficient data for such a study. The British study looked at a little more than 1,000 rock stars to determine the higher death rate, which must comprise almost everyone named on the Billboard 200 since 1950. Though a hitmaker is most likely to meet his maker within five years of fame’s onset–think Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Sid Vicious–the threat to one’s health continues into late middle-age, thanks to sketchy health care for forgotten artists and the ill-advised continuation of the rock-tour lifestyle for the still famous.
Which makes us yearn for a study to discern why The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards is still breathing.

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