Band members outlive solo artists
Famous solo artists are twice as likely to die prematurely than stars in bands, researchers said.
Rock and pop fame has already been associated with risk-taking, substance use and premature mortality.
Researchers examined whether the effect was more profound in solo singers or band members. In recent years there have been a number of high profile solo artist premature deaths including Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.
The researchers, from Liverpool, found that solo rock and pop artists from North America have a 22.8% increased risk of dying prematurely compared with a 10.2% increased risk for band members. They said that European solo performers had a 9.8% increased risk compared with a 5.4% increased risk for band members.
The researchers raised the question of whether support offered by bandmates may be protective.
"Rock and pop star survival also seems to relate to whether they have pursued successful solo careers," they wrote.
"While this may simply be a proxy for level of fame, with solo performers often attracting more attention than for instance a drummer or keyboard player in a band, it also raises the issue of peer support as a protective factor. Thus, further research should address whether bands provide a mutual support mechanism that offers protective health effects."
The authors examined data concerning 1,489 rock and pop stars who reached fame between 1956 and 2006.
Of these, 137 stars died. The average age of death was 45.2 for American stars and 39.6 years for the European artists, according to the research published in the online journal BMJ Open. The authors found that nearly half of those who died as a result of drugs, alcohol or violence had at least one adverse experience in their childhoods, compared with one in four of those dying of other causes.
"Adverse experiences in early life may leave some predisposed to health-damaging behaviours, with fame and extreme wealth providing greater opportunities to engage in risk-taking," the authors added. "Millions of youths wish to emulate their icons. It is important they recognise that substance use and risk-taking may be rooted in childhood adversity rather than seeing them as symbols of success."