To “die doing what you love,” as the adage goes, is almost a blessing. Sure, it’s nice to be able to appreciate the things you love until the very end, but that wouldn’t be possible if you weren’t already dead. And whether it’s a musician, actress, or TV performer, they pass away in front of a large number of onlookers who might be permanently scarred. These legendary people literally worked till the very end, passing away on stage or during a live television broadcast.
Table Of Content
- 1 ALAN MARSHAL
- 2 BARBARA WELDENS
- 3 COL. BRUCE HAMPTON
- 4 COUNTRY DICK MONTANA
- 5 DICK SHAWN
- 6 ‘DIMEBAG’ DARRELL ABBOTT
- 7 EDITH WEBSTER
- 8 HIJO DEL PERRO AGUAYO
- 9 IRMA BULE
- 10 JANE LITTLE
- 11 JEROME RODALE
- 12 JOHNNY “GUITAR” WATSON
- 13 LEONARD WARREN
- 14 LES HARVEY
- 15 LOUIS VIERNE
- 16 MARK SANDMAN
- 17 MIKE SCACCIA
- 18 NICK MENZ
- 19 A
- 20 ONIE WHEELER
- 21 OWEN HART
- 22 RICHARD VERSALLE
- 23 SAM PATCH
- 24 SIB HASHIAN
- 25 SIMON BARERE
- 26 TINY TIM
- 27 TOMMY COOPER
- 28 YU ZHAO GU
Marshal, an Australian actor with theatrical training, built a successful career in the 1930s and 1940s as a supporting actor and character actor. He specialised in playing warriors, villains, and the guy who isn’t quite suitable for her at the beginning of the movie before she leaves him to be with her true love. Marshal continued to act in plays throughout his career, staying faithful to his theatrical background. His final performance would actually be on stage. Marshal co-starred in Sextette, a sexual comedy starring Mae West and written by her. The 52-year-old actor was enthralling a Chicago crowd when he collapsed from a heart attack.
Weldens, a rising artist in France, suffered a horrific stage accident that ended her career and her life. The 35-year-old vocalist was a major draw to the Léo Ferré Festival in 2017, playing at a church in the French commune of Goudron. She had just published her debut album, Le great H de l’homme. Witnesses reported that Weldens put up a fantastic performance and received a standing ovation. As she took it all in, she abruptly lurched forward and collapsed on the ground. Early accounts of what occurred were speculative, but “electrical faults” were probably to blame for Weldens’ heart stopping. It’s noteworthy that Weldens performed barefoot, which raises the question of how she was initially electrocuted.
COL. BRUCE HAMPTON
Col. Bruce Hampton deserves credit for the crunchy, 45-minute guitar noodlings of jam bands like the Grateful Dead, Phish, and the String Cheese Incident, whether you like them or detest them. The Hampton Grease Band, the Quark Alliance, the Late Bronze Age, and other bands that Hampton persistently worked with earned him the moniker “grandfather of the jam band scene.” In May 2017, hundreds of Col. Bruce Hampton’s colleagues, associates, and admirers gathered at Atlanta’s famed Fox Theatre for “Hampton 70: A Celebration of Col. Bruce Hampton.”
The all-star jam session, which was held the day after Hampton turned 70, honoured the man and his music. Hampton knelt down and rested his arm on a stage speaker as a young guitar prodigy called Taz Niederauer displayed some beautiful licks. While performing “Turn on Your Love Light,” Niederauer and members of Blues Traveler and Widespread Panic were completely oblivious that Hampton’s light had just gone out. Rev. Jeff Mosier, a banjo musician and concert goer, wrote on Facebook that he initially believed Hampton had kneeled to perform a “we’re not worthy” for Niederauer. He wasn’t even taking a little break. Hampton had fallen, and that evening in a hospital in Atlanta, he passed away.
COUNTRY DICK MONTANA
The Beat Farmers were known as one of the best bar bands in the world, playing at any small venue that would have them even though they released a number of well-received albums on major labels. They were “honky-tonk anarchists,” as Paste called them, and a key figure in the “cowpunk” movement of the 1980s, fusing country-flavoured roots rock with a punk mentality. After playing in a few other bands and managing a record shop in San Diego, Country Dick Montana, who often sat behind the drum kit, started the band in 1983. In a cowboy hat and duster, Cowboy Dick made an impressive impression. He typically took the stage for at least one song per concert, frequently a quirky novelty tune about the joys of drinking.
In front of a crowded audience, Montana and the Beat Farmers performed on November 8, 1995, at Whistler, British Columbia’s Longhorn Saloon. Montana fell to the ground onto the drums at the conclusion of the song “The Girl I Almost Married.” When they realised Montana was silent, the other band members started the following song but stopped. Running onto the stage, road manager Tom Ames assisted Montana in falling to the ground. Country Dick, 40, had already passed away from what was later determined to be an acute aneurysm by the time paramedics arrived a short while later.
The audience of about 500 people who paid to see comedian Dick Shawn perform at UC San Diego in April 1987 received a full evening of entertainment. He performed a sketch in which he played a headless body at a dinner table before dancing comically out of time to some music. Then Shawn started an act about the end of the world, lying down on stage and remaining motionless the entire time. The crowd assumed Shawn was pretending to be dead because it was a funny gag. After all, when the earth ends, humans will be gone.
There were comments from the audience like, “Take his wallet,” according to Tom Wartelle, a member of that audience, and “it all fit in really well” with Shawn’s act, according to the LA Times. But after Shawn remained motionless for five minutes, the jeers and laughs essentially stopped. A medical professional sprinted onto the stage, felt for Shawn’s pulse, and quickly turned him onto his back. Shawn was given CPR while the audience was asked to leave. Shortly after, an ambulance showed there, taking Shawn to the nearby hospital. Shawn, who was 57 years old, passed away less than two hours after he first entered the stage.
‘DIMEBAG’ DARRELL ABBOTT
The closeness between musician and crowd is a big part of what makes a concert interesting, especially one in a small club or venue. The musicians are indistinguishable from the crowd. The negative? Security isn’t always given as much priority. Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott founded the rock group Damageplan after the dissolution of the well-known metal band Pantera, and the group performed on December 8 at the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio.
Just 90 seconds into Damageplan’s performance, a 25-year-old ex-Marine named Nathan Gale broke into the club with a gun and climbed onto the stage before starting fire on Abbott. That evening, in addition to Abbott, 38, three other people also passed away: concertgoer Nathan Bray, band member Jeff Thompson, and employee Erin Halk of Alrosa Villa. Gale was also shot and murdered by a police officer; according to his mother, he had been dismissed from the military because of mental health difficulties. Gale’s reasons were the subject of various theories, but none of them could be established beyond a reasonable doubt.
A prominent figure in the Baltimore suburbs’ theatre scene was YouTube Webster. She portrayed a character she had already played more than half a dozen times at the Towson Moose Lodge in November 1986: the grandmother-in-law of the title drinker in the musical melodrama The Drunkard. At the conclusion of Act One, just after singing the ballad “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” the character passes away. As the stage lights went out, Webster continued the song while holding onto her heart. Unfortunately, Webster also did. (And here we are discussing her.) It was a tragic time to pass away. The final sound Webster heard before passing out, according to the play’s director Richard Byrd, was “tremendous cheers At that, she passed away.”
HIJO DEL PERRO AGUAYO
Two of the AAA’s best talents, which is the Mexican wrestling federation’s version of the WWE, squared off in the ring in March 2015: Rey Mysterio Jr. (Oscar Gutiérrez) vs Hijo del Perro Aguayo (Pedro Aguayo Ramirez). Aguayo was knocked into the ropes during the encounter by a powerful flying kick from the famous Mysterio. The wrestler seemed to have shattered vertebrae after his head impacted the ropes. He lay motionless in the middle of the ring before Mysterio and the referee realised something was seriously wrong and called for assistance. Aguayo received treatment from the on-call physician for an agonisingly lengthy 80 seconds, but it was already too late. The wrestler’s neck injury, which resulted in a cervical stroke, caused a heart attack, according to the Tijuana Wrestling Commission.
Perhaps the most well-known rudo, or bad guy, in the AAA was Aguayo. He was 35 at the time.
Recall how Britney Spears performed at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards while wearing a huge snake around her neck? Imagine now that the cobra had not been handled properly and had killed Spears by biting her. Sadly, Irma Bule, an Indonesian musician, truly experienced this. In 2016, the 29-year-old was using a live cobra as a “stage prop” while performing in Karawang, Indonesia.
The snake bit Bule during her second song, right in the leg. She assumed that the cobra had been defanged or de-venomed and didn’t give it much thought. Nobody has. Bule continued performing her show for another 45 minutes before she began throwing up and convulsing. The local hospital declared her deceased.
It’s actually kind of beautiful to pass away while pursuing a longtime interest. For the witnesses, it’s terrible and disturbing, but it’s also quite lovely. With musician Jane Little, this is the situation. The double-bass player, who was 16 years old when he joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1945, worked there for more than seven decades. Little received recognition from Guinness World Records in February 2016 for a significant accomplishment: 71 years of service to the ASO, a record for orchestra musicians. Only a few months later, in May 2016, Little was performing in a symphony pops concert of show tunes titled “Broadway’s Golden Age.” Little, 87, reportedly passed out while playing her bass toward the end of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” according to the Washington Post. After passing away, she was transported backstage.
Jerome Rodale, sometimes known as J.I. Rodale, promoted various healthy lifestyle choices that were considered very radical in the middle of the 20th century but are now completely mainstream, such as eating locally or avoiding foods that were heavily processed. Rodale spent years writing and speaking about how these and other healthy habits will lengthen his life. For instance, the 72-year-old longevity expert declared that he would “live to a hundred” on a June 7, 1971, filming of ABC’s The Dick Cavett Show. Unfortunately, Rodale didn’t quite reach 100 because he passed away shortly after saying that. Rodale remained on stage as Cavett conducted an interview with a different guest, remaining silent up until he made a horrifying noise. Rodale passed away in front of a live studio audience on the set of The Dick Cavett Show after becoming pale and having his mouth hang wide.
JOHNNY “GUITAR” WATSON
Johnny Watson’s nickname was actually “Guitar” because of how well he played his instrument and how many different ways he did so. After experimenting with the Houston blues scene as a young pianist, he switched to the guitar in the 1950s and began cranking out influential electric blues classics. Hits like “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” and “Cuttin’ In” propelled him up the R&B charts. As one of the best and earliest producers of the musical style that would come to be known as funk, Watson reinvented himself in the 1970s. Watson, who was a fashion hero of the ’70s as well, popularised funk music with funky, soulful, guitar-driven songs like “Superman Lover,” “A Real Mother for Ya,” “Lover Jones,” and “Ain’t That a B****.” As a constant trailblazer, Watson’s 1980 track “Telephone Bill” is one of the earliest examples of rap music.
In 1996, Watson, whose career had stagnated since the early 1980s, went on tour. On May 17 of that year, he performed in Yokohama, Japan. Watson passed away from what was later revealed to be a heart attack shortly after hitting the stage and giving some stage banter in Japanese (which he claimed to speak in “Ain’t That a B****”). He was 61.
The entire point of opera is that it is full of sad, dramatic, and even tragic moments. One of the most well-known American opera singers of all time, baritone Leonard Warren, passed away on stage, adding to the opera’s innate horror and legend. Warren was performing as Don Carlo in the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Forza del Destino in March 1960. Warren’s voice and body failed around 10 o’clock. After finishing the suitably named “fatal urn of my fate” aria at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, he instantly collapsed to the stage floor. The singer passed away less than 30 minutes later. The Washington Post reports that a heart attack was the cause of death.
On stage, there are numerous possible threats. For example, a musician could slide and leave the stage or a light could drop and strike a performer. To power all those electric guitars and amplifiers, a lot of electricity is also being used. Les Harvey, the guitarist for the burgeoning Scottish blues-rock group Stone the Crows, died as a result of that. On May 3, 1972, Harvey was tuning up his instrument in front of roughly 1,200 people before the start of a concert in Swansea, Wales, when he made the fateful error of grabbing a microphone. Because it hadn’t been grounded properly, his body experienced a dangerous, lethal electric shock. Like so many other sadly lost stars, Harvey passed away in a hospital. He was only 27 years old.
Louis Vierne had the most coveted position open to a professional church organist at the beginning of the 20th century: resident organist at Paris’ storied Notre-Dame Cathedral. Vierne’s heavenly organ playing drew large crowds, especially for his own compositions (he created six symphonies), but in 1937 the Catholic Church clergy that oversaw Notre-Dame decided to stop holding any organ recitals. On June 2, 1937, they at least permitted Vierne to perform in front of the crowd once more.
The Elvis Presley of early 20th-century organists was Vierne. Vierne had a run of horrifically bad luck, while Presley battled narcotics, poor nutrition, and health issues. His wife had an extramarital affair, one of his kids had tuberculosis, and the other had died in World War I combat. He had to relearn how to pedal the organ after breaking his leg and ankle in a fall, and the stress of it all led him to start smoking three packs per day and turn to heart medications, tranquillizers, and sleeping drugs.
For Vierne’s final performance at Notre-Dame, which ultimately turned out to be his final performance ever, over 3,000 people gathered. He told his helper, who was watching him play an original composition, “I’m going to be unwell.” Then he kept playing a single, low note without pausing. He passed away from a heart attack while enjoying his favourite chair.
One of the most distinctive alternative rock groups of the 1990s, Morphine’s music was difficult and uncomfortable. That’s mostly because to singer and bassist Mark Sandman, who invented a slow, droning playing style that gave Morphine’s songs a frightening and unsettling quality. He passed away onstage from a fatal heart attack, which is very unsettling and eerie. According to MTV, Morphine, then 46, abruptly stopped playing during a 1999 performance at the Giardini del Principe festival outside of Rome. He was pronounced dead a short while later, in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
Thrash metal and industrial metal, two cutting-edge hard rock subgenres that took off in the 1980s, were led by Mike Scaccia and his guitar. For the former, he created the group Rigor Mortis in 1983, and for the latter, he joined Ministry in 1989 as the group transitioned from synth-pop to a hard-charging, guitar-heavy, electronic-influenced sound at the invitation of band leader Al Jourgensen. He played on Ministry’s two most well-known songs, “Jesus Built My Hotrod” and “N.W.O.,” as well as the band’s best-selling album, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (1992).
However, Scaccia never forgot Rigor Mortis and on December 22, 2012, he performed at the Rail Club in Fort Worth, Texas, as part of the band’s lead singer Bruce Corbitt’s 50th birthday celebration. Scaccia was performing when all of a sudden he passed out. He was taken to a hospital and later declared dead. A medical examiner’s report states that the 47-year-old guitarist passed away from a sudden heart attack brought on by underlying heart disease.
Nothing is more metal than passing away while doing metal. Nick Menza, a former member of Megadeth, was a metalhead. Throughout the 1990s, he played drums for a well-known metal band, contributing to albums with titles like Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction. Menza performed with a number of bands in addition to Megadeth, including Chodle’s Trunk, Fear Assembly, Orphaned to Hatred, and OHM. Menza’s heart stopped in May 2016 when he was performing with OHM. During the third song of the band’s set at a concert in Studio City, California, the 51-year-old slumped onstage and was later pronounced dead.
Wheeler was one of the best country music sidemen in the 1950s and 1960s, when the genre was still known as “country and Western music.” In addition to releasing a tonne of solo music, the guitarist and harmonica player also backed artists like Johnny Cash, Ray Acuff, and George Jones. Lefty Frizzell had a big hit with a tune Wheeler penned called “Run ‘Em Off.” Wheeler resided in Nashville during the 1970s and 1980s and frequently performed at the renowned Grand Ole Opry. There is perhaps no better way for a true-blue, lifelong supporter of country music to part ways than by giving a performance at the Opry, as Wheeler did. Wheeler died of a heart attack in 1984 while recording Grand Ole Gospel Time for the Rev. Jimmie Snow.
In the 1990s, one of the WWE’s most well-liked and exciting wrestlers was Owen Hart (and, alongside his brother, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, part of a wrestling legacy). He was a big draw at the “Over the Edge” pay-per-view event in May 1999, where he was scheduled to make an annoying superhero cameo and be lowered through an intricate wire system from the rafters into the ring. But unfortunately, the rigging failed, sending the “Blue Blazer” plummeting 78 feet. He tumbled into the ring after landing on the top rope.
Jim Ross had the awful duty of informing the 16,000 spectators in Kansas City’s Kemper Arena that Hart’s fall was not staged, a stunt, or phoney in any way. (Those who watched the event on television missed the fall since the coverage highlighted some of Hart’s prior victories to heighten the tension before his big entrance.) At a neighbourhood hospital, Hart’s death was confirmed. Recently, he had turned 34 years old.
Richard Versalle, an opera singer, was featured in The Makropulos Case in January 1996. The tenor performed the part of Vitek, an elderly lawyer. Versalle stood atop a library-style ladder in the opera’s opening scene, high up, storing a case file. Versalle, 63, accidentally proved his argument by falling down the ladder after singing the line “Too bad you can only live so long.” Versalle allegedly had a heart attack, which led to his fall.
Even though it may not be as shocking, it is just as terrifying and sad when a professional daredevil passes away in front of a crowd. Sam Patch, one of the first well-known daredevils, rose to fame in 1827 when he began routinely plunging into the water below from a ledge above New Jersey’s Passaic Falls. His jumps grew more and more audacious with time, drawing bigger and bigger crowds. Patch and his crew announced the performer’s “final jump” in 1829: On Friday, November 13, he will launch himself 125 feet off a platform overlooking Rochester, New York’s High Falls of the Genesee River.
The phrase “last jump” now was meant to denote Patch’s last try of the season. But something, like fate or the cosmos, took that word way too literally. In the New York Evening Post’s account of the jump, Patch’s torso “began to droop, his arms were extended, and his legs split” as he descended. In other words, his form was seriously flawed, and he made a poor water entry. He never showed up. Six miles downstream and four months later, Patch’s body was discovered in a block of ice. Patch had a broken blood vessel mid-fall, according to an autopsy, which was blamed on the unexpected shock of the chilly November air.
Sib Hashian, a founding member of Boston, played drums on Boston (17 million copies sold), one of the best-selling rock albums of the 1970s, and Don’t Look Back (7 million moved). Boston wasn’t as popular as it once was, but that was then, and this is now. Hashian has joined the Legends of Rock Cruise and the classic rock nostalgia circuit. On board, bands that included various and varying members of Foreigner, Kansas, the Beach Boys, Boston (obviously), and more of your dad’s favourite bands entertained the passengers. In March 2017, Hashian passed out behind the drums while playing at sea. Age 67 was Hashian.
At Carnegie Hall in 1951, renowned pianist Simon Barere sat in front of his piano in front of a sizable crowd. (How did he arrive? Practice.) Barere was one of the featured musicians making his Philadelphia Orchestra debut. For the first two minutes and change of the concerto, he played expertly as usual. At that point, the crowd began to observe Barere’s tempo becoming erratic, to say nothing of the sour notes. Barere’s errors decreased when he completely stopped playing, slouched forward, and slammed his head on the keyboard before falling off the bench and hitting the ground. In fact, a doctor was present, and he rushed up to assist in carrying Barere backstage. Barere, 54, was declared dead after 30 minutes of attempts at resuscitation; a stroke was likely the cause of death.
One of the most distinctive artists to ever have a hit single was Tiny Tim. He was a tall, stringy-haired man (thus the satirical stage name), and he had a high, vibrating, lilting voice. In 1968, his rendition of the popular song “Tip-Toe Thru’ the Tulips with Me” peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard pop chart. (Tiny Tim accompanied himself on the ukulele, which added to the absurdity.) A year later, on The Tonight Show, the unlikely celebrity wed Vicki, a 17-year-old fan, in front of 21.4 million viewers, setting a ratings record for Johnny Carson.
Tiny Tim was a remarkable character who passed away continuing to amuse others. On November 30, 1996, Tiny Tim performed at a concert in support of the Minneapolis Women’s Club. Tiny Tim unexpectedly stopped playing during the song “Tip-Toe Thru’ the Tulips with Me,” and then he told his wife (Susan Khaury; he and Vicki had split up years previously) that he wasn’t feeling well. The 64-year-old performer then passed away at a hospital in Minneapolis a few hours later, most likely from a heart arrest.
Welsh prop comedian and magician Tommy Cooper had an appearance on the variety programme Live from Her Majesty’s in April 1984, which was broadcast live to viewers all over the United Kingdom from London’s Her Majesty’s Theatre. Cooper performed his well-known “magic cloak” routine, where he would stand in front of a curtain while donning a big robe and “magically” pull out ever-larger objects that were passed to him by an assistant. Jimmy Tarbuck, the host of Live from Her Majesty that evening, who also served as Cooper’s assistant, revealed to Wales Online that the joke was supposed to end with Tarbuck appearing from behind the curtain carrying a stepladder and giving it to Cooper because it was too large to fit under the dress. (Cooper’s performance was a bit cheesy.)
However, Cooper then engaged in some of what Tarbuck saw to be improvisational physical comedy, which is one of his habits. Cooper abruptly dropped to his rear after a “beautiful helper” entered the stage. Although the in-house audience laughed, this was a tragic event rather than a comedy. Cooper, 63, had a heart attack while watching live television. In order to prevent home viewers from witnessing Cooper’s lifeless body being dragged through the curtain, the director abruptly cut the show to commercial. When he arrived at the hospital, it was announced that he had passed away.
YU ZHAO GU
Violinists Yu Zhao Gu and Ying Zhao, a husband and wife team from China who raised money on GoFundMe, settled in the Houston region and, among other renowned orchestras, joined the Symphony of Southeast Texas in the mid-1990s. They adopted that as their “home orchestra,” and over time, they frequently provided the string section. Zhao was present when her husband unexpectedly slouched out of his chair and fell to the floor on April 6, 2019, during the symphony’s final performance of the season at a theatre in Beaumont, Texas, as the two were also stand partners. As soon as the musicians stopped playing, numerous medical professionals from the audience and an orchestral cardiologist raced to the stage to assist. As the paramedics arrived at the event venue, CPR was given. The musician was taken urgently to a hospital nearby, but it was already too late. Yu Zhao Gu, who was 60 years old, was declared dead.
Being a binge-watcher himself, finding Content to write about comes naturally to Divesh. From Anime to Trending Netflix Series and Celebrity News, he covers every detail and always find the right sources for his research.