Rocks Stars Who Died Before They Got Old: What They Would Look Like Today

aged rock stars

Live fast.

Die young.

Spare your­self the grim real­i­ties of the state fair reunion tour cir­cuit.

On the oth­er hand, it’s death­ly hard to con­trol one’s image from beyond the grave. Espe­cial­ly when you’ve got an award-win­ning PR Agency and a pho­to manip­u­la­tion com­pa­ny team­ing up to imag­ine how you might look had you sur­vived!

The twelve unlucky recip­i­ents of these posthu­mous makeovers remain house­hold names (see the gallery here), even though it’s near­ly twen­ty years since the last of their num­ber drew breath. Like Jim Mor­ri­son, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hen­drix, Kurt Cobain was but 27 when he passed, though at the time of his birth, the oth­er three were all old enough to be his mom­my or dad­dy. Fit­ting, then, that he appears to be the baby of the gold­en group.

Music writer Eli­jah Wald and pop­u­lar music schol­ar Reebee Garo­fa­lo offer insights below each por­trait in the gallery about where the sub­jects might now find them­selves in their careers. It’s all con­jec­ture, but their expe­ri­ence ensures that their opin­ions can be tak­en as edu­cat­ed guess­es, at least.

Less con­vinc­ing are the sar­to­r­i­al choic­es on dis­play. Den­nis Wil­son in a Hawai­ian shirt, okay, but were he alive, might not Kei­th Moon fol­low suit with for­mer-band­mates Pete Town­shend and Roger Dal­trey, both of whom have adopt­ed the sleek, mono­chro­mat­ic wardrobe favored by aging rock gods?

And who here thinks the 78-year-old Elvis would traipse around in the sort of short-sleeved poly-blend shirt my late grand­fa­ther wore to his week­ly men’s prayer break­fast?

For pity’s sake, age does not auto­mat­i­cal­ly imply drab­ness!

(Who’s that I see over there? Could it be Yoko Ono, look­ing great at 80, in a top hat and tap pants? Even if she were look­ing less-than-fit, it would still be a bold choice! I doubt she wears that get-up to the gro­cery store, but the pro­gres­sion of time has not robbed her of the abil­i­ty to make a delib­er­ate visu­al impres­sion.)

What is refreshing—though not nec­es­sar­i­ly believable—is how none of the res­ur­rect­ed icons in these por­traits seem to have gone in for plas­tic surgery.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Jimi Hendrix’s Final Inter­view on Sep­tem­ber 11, 1970: Lis­ten to the Com­plete Audio

Watch Janis Joplin’s Final Inter­view Reborn as an Ani­mat­ed Car­toon

Ani­mat­ed Video: Kurt Cobain on Teenage Angst, Sex­u­al­i­ty & Find­ing Sal­va­tion in Punk Music

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the author of sev­en books, most recent­ly Peanut. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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