Top 10 Undead Rock Stars

[Resident listmeister Brent Chittenden has been preparing for Halloween since Labour Day.  Here’s his latest installment leading up to the big day. -AC]

Death claims us all at some point–or does it? Maybe if you’re famous enough, you get a pass. In keeping with our Halloween theme, this week’s top ten list is about the undead.. or maybe not quite so dead. Rockers who have shuffled off this mortal coil only to be seen at Starbucks. Top Ten Undead Rock Stars!

10) Paul McCartney

Supposedly dying in a car crash in 1967, Paul’s been seen a lot for a guy who’s supposedly buried. While I know the story of Paul’s death is probably not true, part of me wish it was because the entire story is so fantastic and the cover up would have been going on so long at this point that it would be really astounding. Speaking of Beatles…


9) John Lennon

While Mr. Lennon is most assuredly not among the living, he may still think he’s alive as his spirit appears to haunt The Dakota, the co-op where he lived and ultimately died in front of. Of interest, the other ghost possibly hanging around the Dakota? Boris Karloff.


8) Janis Joplin

An old soul who died before her time, much like Lennon, maybe she just won’t give up that easy. After passing away at The Highland Gardens Hotel, she’s been seen in the halls. Which makes me wonder, if you see the ghost of Janis Joplin in the hallway of your hotel, what do you ask her? And why doesn’t she haunt that awesome psychedelic Porsche she owned instead of a hotel?


7) Michael Jackson

This theory behind Jackson being alive is an interesting one. Essentially much like man of the others on this list, Michael was tired of his fame and prying eyes. He was also tired of the large amount of debt he was starting to accumulate. So feeling that the time was right, Jackson faked his death this getting away from the glaring camera and not only getting away from his debt but completely eliminating it. Jackson hasn’t been spotted as much as the others on the list but supposedly there is a video of Jackson escaping from the ambulance holding his body.


6) Harry Houdini

Red Hot Chili Peppers, haunted by Houdini

Okay, I know he wasn’t a musical performer, but bear with me here. Houdini was a lot like a rock star of his day; put on shows, toured the country, generally amazed the public. Sounds kind of like a rock star doesn’t it? Now his mansion (well not really, the original home burned down in the 50’s) was turned into a recording studio currently owned by Rick Rubin. Many bands have reported haunting activity while staying there and the Chili Peppers even captured a photo of a mysterious orb (it’s in the Blood Sugar Sex Magik liner notes) as has Corey Taylor. Could this be the ghost of Houdini rocking out despite the fact he never lived there?


5) Kurt Cobain

If any modern rocker had reasons to fake his own death, it’d be Kurt Cobain. Kurt had a very love/hate relationship with fame but it was very heavy on the hate side. This coupled with the “loose ends” of his suicide have lead many people spotting Kurt alive, especially in England for some reason.


4) Jim Morrison

Apparently, not having an autopsy and having your fellow band members say that you’re alive breeds rumour. Okay to be fair, Ray Manzarek has stated his book, A Poet In Exile, about the faking of Morrison’s death was a “novel” but to many, this was just more proof that he had not died. Morrison has been seen everywhere from Australia to hanging around his own gravesite.


3) The Notorious B.I.G.

Killed in a drive by, there are a lot of questions about Biggie’s death, including if he’s actually dead. Despite being “dead”, people claim to see him alive fairly regularly and he’s released a few albums. The biggest piece to the story is that Biggie faked his death due to fear of being killed like Tupac. Planning this way in advance of his last record “Life After Death” which then became a stroke of marketing genius. And you can talk about Biggie being alive without mentioning…


2) Tupac Shakur

This is one I can believe. While there aren’t many reports from people “seeing” Tupac, we’ve heard from him. A lot. Since his death in 1996, Tupac has managed to put out 6 albums of material. The main thrust of the story is that Tupac felt his life was in danger so he faked his death. Suge Knight has even said as much in a few interviews. Since his death, Tupac has been seen in LA, throughout Africa and the Caribbean.


1) Elvis

You knew it was coming. Elvis has been seen everywhere since he “passed away” . From Texas bathrooms to your Mom’s house, there is nearly nowhere The King has not been seen. The stories of why Elvis faked his death are just as varied. From hiding from the mob to just being sick of his own fame (a favorite among these faked death rockers), if the Kind did fake his death, he didn’t do a particularly good job. And when he’s not seen “alive”, Elvis is also seen dead as a spirit hanging out everywhere from Vegas to Graceland.

Anyone we missed?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38523 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Top 10 Undead Rock Stars

  • Well, Nikki Sixx is literally undead. Clinically dead for two minutes after a heroin overdose and brought back by the paramedics.

    A lot more to the alternative side of the tracks, Stiv Bators pulled off a similar trick by managing to hang himself on stage and be brought back. But he's entirely dead now since a taxi got him in Paris.


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