Dead rock stars are a dime a dozen. They usually drink themselves to death, overdose on narcotics, crash cars, or get on faulty aircrafts with drunk pilots on drugs who crash cars. But murdered musicians? That's where it gets gruesome. Check out these 10 tales of death by murder.
10. DJ Uncle Al - Murdered: September 10, 2001 Is a DJ a musician? In Miami, where turntables have outnumbered guitars 2:1 since the 80's, the answer is yes. Our greatest vinyl martyr, DJ Uncle Al, was shot in cold blood by three men with pistols at the front door of the North Miami duplex where he originated a pirate radio signal that interefered with that of the Broward cowards who may have killed him. Read more about his untimely death in our 2001 feature on him.
9. Jaco Pastorius - Murdered: September 11, 1987. One of the greatest bassists ever to grace the low end, his electric style was noted for melodies in the high registers and the mellifluous quality of his runs. The Broward County native also had some mental problems. After sneaking into and getting kicked out of a Santana show one night, he went to the Midnight Bottle Club in Wilton Manners. He got denied entrance, kicked out a glass door, got in a fight with the bouncer and caught a one man boot party death stomp (still popular with Liquordale bouncers) that left his face in bone shards, his brain in a coma, and his body on life support till he passed on September 21st at the age of 35. His killer was charged with 2nd degree murder, but plead down to manslaughter.
8. Don Myrick - Murdered: July 30, 1993. He was a legendary saxophonist who started with a jazz group in Chicago and went on to sell millions of records as a member of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Myrick also played on the Phil Collins hit "One More Night." At the age of 53, Myrick was shot dead in his California home by a Santa Monica cop working a narcotics investigation. Cops surrounded the house and knocked on his door wat 6:10 a.m. to serve a seacrh warrant. Myrick answered with a butane lighter in his hand and was fatally shot in the chest. His family collected $400,000 in a wrongful death suit filed against L.A. County.
7. Felix Pappalardi - Murdered: April 17, 1983. As a producer he was considered the "fourth member" of the Eric Clapton group Cream. Later, he was known for playing and recording distorted bass lines with heavy metal forerunning band Mountain. His artist wife killed him with a pistol shot to the neck in their Manhattan apartment. She was charged with criminally negligent homicide, saw release, lives in Mexico, and claims it was an accident.
6. Selena - Murdered: March 31, 1995. "The Mexican Madonna" was also known as the "Queen of Tejano Music," and won a grammy for best Mexican-American album in 1994. She began singing lead in her Jehova's Witness family's band at the age of 3. Selena was murdered by the president of her own fan club with a single shot to the back that severed an artery in her shoulder. The killer had been embezzling moneys and was fired. Selena bled out on the floor of a Days Inn lobby, and she later died in a Corpus Christi hospital from blood loss. Texas governor George W. Bush declared April 16th Selena day in Texas.
5. Bobby Ramirez - Murdered: 1972. Bobby Ramirez played drums on the 1971 album Edgar Winter's White Trash, a Billboard single producing rock record with famous albino frontman Edgar Winters. Ramirez was only 23 years old when a Chicago bar patron made fun of his long hair. Ramirez followed the man outside where he was attacked and stabbed with a "pointed steel toed shoe" and died in the arms of his manager.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
4. Peter Tosh - Murdered: September 11, 1987. Nicknamed "Steppin' Razor," Tosh formed "The Wailers" with Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston as a youth in Trenchtown, Jamaica in the 60's. He later went on to a great solo career that peaked with a Best Reggae Performance Grammy win in 1987 for his "No Nuclear War" album. Returning to Jamaica from this musical victory, he was confronted by armed assailaints looking for money. The men who accosted him were personal acquaintances of the singer's who he had helped find work. When Tosh could not produce any cash, he was shot twice in the head and died.
3. Sam Cooke - Murdered: December 11, 1964. A gospel music, chitlin circuit veteran Sam Cooke had already toured the nation numerous times with the Soul Stirrers before he crossed over into secular pop music. His smooth delivery, trademark yodel, and songwriting ability helped him achieve 29 top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964. At the height of his success, Sam was killed by a gutshot from an L.A. motel manager in her office after an incident with a groupie who may have run off with his wallet. Sam was wearing nothing but a sports jacket and shoes. The killing was deemed a "justifiable homicide."
2. Rhett Forrester - Murdered: January 22, 1994. As lead singer for the band Riot, Rhett sang epic big hair hard rock anthems that got him the "Number One Vocalist of the Year" prize from Burn Magazine in Japan. At the age of 37 in Atlanta he was killed by gun violence while refusing to give up his vehicle in an attempted carjacking.
1. King Curtis (Curtis Ousley) - Murdered: August 13, 1971. In the behind the scenes world of pop music arrangements and session work, King Curtis was renowned for his skills in making hits and playing on them, too. It was on an apartment stoop in New York City that King caught beef with a couple of junkies shooting dope on his porch. After words went to fists, and fists went to blades, King was stabbed multiple times. Before his assailant could get away, King took his knife and stabbed him right back. The junkie ended up going to the same hospital as King to get treatment and wound up incarcerated for murder.