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Singers Who Died in Plane Crashes

Aaliyah was one of the youngest and hottest celebrities to die in a plane crash. Aaliyah was one of the youngest and hottest celebrities to die in a plane crash.


Statistically, flying in an airplane is safer than driving in a car - unless you happen to be a big name celebrity. So many musical celebs have met their death in a plane crash that they are almost no longer a statistical anomaly! What’s the fastest way to achieve long lasting star status? Die before your time. Lets take a look at celebrities who may have gone down in flames, but whose careers took a boost from their untimely end.


The Day The Music Died

In 1971, Don MacLean wrote a song called “American Pie.” It soon became known as “The Day The Music Died,” and is popularly believed to be about the tragic plane crash of 1959 that took the lives of an alarming number of musicians. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and ‘Big Bopper’ JP Henderson died along with the pilot. Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings were supposed to be on board - but at the last minute traded seats with Holly and Valens. The line in MacLean’s song referencing the “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” is presumed to represent the three musicians.

Time in a Bottle

In 1973, a small commercial plane crashed. A fairly inconspicuous singer, Jim Croce was aboard. His album I Got a Name had already been lined up for release, and nearly 40 years later his songs are still popular - notably “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown” and “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.”

Free Bird

In 1977, the Corvair carrying the majority of the band known as Lynyrd Skynyrd ran out of fuel on their way from Greenville to Baton Rouge and crashed in the forest near Gillsburg, Mississippi. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines all perished. Their soon-to-go-platinum album Street Survivors had just been released three days prior. The band was later revived, and still tours and records in various incarnations.

Poor Little Fool

In 1985, singer Ricky Nelson, his fiancée and his entire band died in a plane crash in DeKalb, Texas. Ricky had bought the 14 seat DC-3 (formerly belonging to his contemporary Jerry Lee Lewis) but the plane was plagued by mechanical problems. These eventually caused massive malfunction and the crash on December 31st, which only the pilots survived (with one burned severely).

Double Trouble

In 1990, Stevie Ray Vaughn was only 35. He was coming off of a performance with the legendary Eric Clapton when the helicopter carrying him, Nigel Browne, and Colin Smith crashed into the side of a ski slope in dense fog. His posthumous album release included the eerily appropriately named hit “The Sky is Crying,” which won a Grammy and went platinum.

More Than a Woman

R&B sensation Aaliyah perished when her stoned, high, and unqualified pilot (who lied about his certification to get a job) crashed an overloaded Cessna on the runway during takeoff. The singer was only 22, and her third studio album, Aaliyah jumped from number 19 on the charts to number 1 in the weeks succeeding her death.

Other musical celebs who died in crashes include John Denver (who went down piloting his own plane in 1997), Patsy Cline (whose plane crashed in the mountains of Tennessee in 1963), Otis Redding (who died in a crash in 1967 and whose posthumously released Sitting on the Dock of the Bay became a monster sensation), and Glenn Miller (whose plane went down over the English channel in 1944 - and was never found). Their music, however, lives on forever!

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The incomparable Stevie Ray Vaughn making the guitar sing in the years before his death in a plane crash.
Last modified on Monday, 17 September 2012 17:01

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