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article imageStudy: Solo rock stars die sooner than rockers in bands

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By Layne Weiss     Dec 20, 2012 in Entertainment
London - An academic study published Thursday affirms that music celebrities are more likely than the rest of the population to die young. Furthermore, it finds that solo rock stars are twice as likely to die young as musicians in bands.
Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University and Britain's Health Department studied 1,489 rock, punk, pop, R&B, rap, electronica, and New Age artists who rose to stardom between 1956 and 2006-from Elvis Presley to the Arctic Monkeys, The Associated Press reports.
The researchers also dismissed the popular myth that rock stars tend to die at the age of 27 like Jimi Hendrix,Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse all did.
The study, which was published in the online journal, BMJ Open, confirmed the average age of death for solo artists was 45.2 in North America and 39.6 for solo artists in Europe. American Rock star Elvis Presley died in Memphis at the age of 42 in 1977, while Michael Jackson died at 50 in LA in 2009.
Researchers theorized that band members have the support of their bandmates when times get stressful while solo artists don't
The Associated Press reports. Lead researcher Mark Bellis said that even though solo artist have "huge followings," they may feel "relatively isolated." Bellis is the director of the Center for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University.
Music critic John Aizelwood agreed with Bellis that solo artists receive more attention, which also leads to more pressure.
Aizelwood said solo artists can be "emotionally extreme," and since they don't have a band to share the spotlight with, they can sometimes be very egotistical.
Solo artists "have an ego in the way a drummer or even the lead guitarist in a band doesn't," Aizelwood said.
The study also showed that the crazy rock 'n roll lifestyle may not be to blame for premature deaths in solo rock stars. Childhood physical and sexual abuse can be major risk factors. Solo artists with rough childhood experiences may be at greater risk to succumb to to alcohol and drugs, USA Today reports.
Ellis Cashmore, a cultural studies professor at Staffordshire University and author of the book Celebrity/Culture, says that it would be wrong to disregard "artistic frustration" as a factor in why solo artists self destruct, The Associated Press reports.
Cashmore cited troubled artists from Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, as examples of artists tormented by creativity.
"Perhaps it is the continual striving for some sort of unattainable artistic perfection that drives them," he said.
Aging European rockers such as The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards received some good news from the study, which finds that once they've been famous for 25 years or more, they are at no greater risk to die before their time than the average European, USA Today reports. Keith Richards has been famous for 50 years and just turned 69 this week.
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