A new project is paying tribute to died-too-soon musicians by imagining them in their later years
When Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain fatally shot himself on 5 April 1994 he was a shaggy-haired 27-year-old with a fondness for oversized plaid shirts. But would he have kept the look if he’d lived to middle age? New project Rock & Roll Heaven think they have the answer.
Like Kurt Cobain, ‘Lizard King’ Jim Morrison was also a member of the ’27 club’. The lead singer of The Doors died in a bathtub in Paris on 3 July 1971. Rock & Roll Heaven think Jim would have spent the 70s dabbling with indie filmmaking before becoming a writer. He’s shown without his glossy dark mane. Still working that leather jacket though.
Beatle John Lennon was tragically killed at 40 while returning from a recording session on 8 December 1980. If he’d grown old, Rock & Roll Heaven predicts he would have turned away from music to focus on fatherhood and campaigning. Old John’s kept the bowl cut but appears to have swapped his iconic round glasses for contacts.
They also reckon that, if The Who drummer Keith Moon hadn’t overdosed on anti-alcoholism medicine on September 7 1978 aged 32, the band would have stayed together and competed with The Rolling Stones for decades. It’s imagined he’d have stuck with his mod look.
Blues singer Janis Joplin was killed by an overdose on 4 October 1970 when she was 27. Even if she’d lived, Rock & Roll Heaven predicts the pace of her lifestyle would have led to a collapse in the 70s. She’d return more soulful in the 80s alongside troubled peers like Joe Cocker and Tina Turner.
Overdosing on drugs on 18 September 1970, 27-year-old Jim Hendrix’ career was cut short. If he’d lived, it’s imagined he’d have completed his jazz-rock fusion collab with Miles Davis and remained a pioneer, experimenting with new technology. He’d still be very sharply dressed but with tamer locks.
If Elvis Presley hadn’t died of a heart attack aged 42 on 16 August 1977, it’s believed his career would have headed on the same trajectory for as long as his manager Colonel Parker lived. Perhaps he’d have opened an Elvis Grand Casino in Las Vegas, before winning over hipster audiences with stripped-down albums in his later years.
Carpenters’ singer and drummer Karen Carpenter lived until 32, dying from cardiac arrest on 4 February 1983 caused by the effects of anorexia. She’s imagined to have switched her swooshy 70s hair for a more grown-up ‘do after a career performing with her band in a showcase theatre in Las Vegas alongside Prince and Bette Midler.
Founding member of The Wailers and massive reggae influence Bob Marley died of at cancer on 11 May 1981, aged 36. Bob is imagined to have continued to challenge the old colonial powers, worked on a joint project with Kanye West and kept his long dreads.
See more pictures from the Rock & Roll Heaven project run by Sachs Media and Phojoe here.