Solo rock/pop stars apt to die early

Dec. 31, 2012 at 1:55 AM
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LIVERPOOL, England, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Successful solo rock/pop stars are about twice as likely to die early as those in equally famous bands, British researchers found.

The researchers said despite considerable wealth, rock and pop stars suffer higher levels of mortality than demographically matched individuals in the general population.

Previous studies had not considered whether such mortality risks in stars vary with the characteristics of the performer or whether the cause of death may be related to experiences predating fame.

The study included 1,489 North American and European rock and pop stars over a 50-year period from 1956, when Elvis Presley was on top, to 2006, when Regina Spektor, The Arctic Monkeys and Snow Patrol were hot.

During the study period, 9.2 percent of famous rock/pop stars died. The average age of death was 45 for North American stars and 39 from Europe, the study found.

The study found a gap in life expectancy between rock and pop stars and the general population widened consistently until 25 years after fame was achieved, after which death rates began to approach those of the general population -- but only for European stars.

Solo performers were around twice as likely to die early as those in a band, irrespective of whether they were European or North American.

The findings suggest peer support offered by band mates might be protective, the researchers said.

The study, published online in the journal British Medical Journal Open, was conducted by Mark Bellis, Karen Hughes, Olivia Sharples, Katherine Hardcastle of the Centre for Public Health, University of Liverpool, in England, and Katherine A Hardcastle, Department of Health, Manchester, England.

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