Related Videos

Top 10 Musicians Who Surprisingly Didn't Die From Drugs

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Some live fast and die young. Others... don’t. By which we mean: others live fast and keep going like the Energizer bunny. Some rock stars have managed to overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol, while others still have the monkeys on their backs. But one thing’s for sure: they all make kickass music. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 musicians whose drug abuse probably should have killed them (but didn’t). For this list, we’ve chosen musicians who battled their demons for longer than humanly possible and have made it through to the other side – or at least to older age.

You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login


Top 10 Musicians Drugs Should Have Killed

Some live fast and die young. Others…don’t. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 musicians whose drug use probably should have killed them.

For this list, we’ve chosen musicians who battled their demons for longer than humanly possible and have made it through to the other side – or at least to older age.

#10 – Iggy Pop, The Stooges

Today he’s got a “Lust for Life,” but through the ‘70s he nursed a heroin habit: rumors even surfaced claiming The Stooges sprayed blood from used needles onto their apartment’s walls. Pop’s inability to stand up on-stage finally forced him into a mental institution to get clean, though David Bowie smuggled him drugs. Eventually, Iggy got sober, and now he’s as fit and shirtless as ever.

#9 – Eric Clapton

He sang about “Cocaine,” but that’s not the only drug Slowhand fell victim to. His $16,000-a-week heroin habit almost drove him to suicide, but he never did it because then he’d have to stop drinking. After withdrawing from his career, enduring car crashes, health problems and being so drunk he’d perform lying down, Clapton finally reached that “Crossroads,” sobered up and founded a rehab center in Antigua.

#8 – Slash, Guns N’ Roses

Now, he’s clean and doesn’t even smoke cigarettes. Then, he had an “Appetite for Destruction.” Slash struggled with a heroin addiction before GNR’s debut album, and Axl Rose threatened to quit if he didn’t sober up. By 2001, Slash was diagnosed with a heart problem and given only a short time left to live – but therapy and a pacemaker saved his life and today he has no regrets.

#7 – Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

You didn’t think he dressed like that sober? Tyler and partner-in-crime Joe Perry were the Toxic Twins; but his habit of keeping Jack & Cokes or just plain cocaine on-stage prompted multiple rehab stints. In 2009, Tyler fell off-stage after falling off the wagon, and though he claims it boosted his creativity, the Demon of Screamin’ confirms that drugs damaged his relationships, cost him millions and gave him Hepatitis-C.

#6 – Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys

Wilson needed more than just “Good Vibrations:” pot, hash, LSD, cocaine and more contributed to the Beach Boys’ biggest hits. But, Wilson’s drug, alcohol and food addictions also caused his absences from music, and the deterioration of his voice and mental health. Stints in the loony bin, assistance from a controversial therapist and Rhonda didn’t help; however he made it through and now “Brian’s back.”

#5 – Lemmy Kilmister, Motörhead

After roadie-ing and scoring drugs for Hendrix, and being fired from Hawkwind for doing the “wrong drugs,” Lemmy formed pioneering metal group Motörhead – which, btw, is a euphemism for “speed freak.” True to the name, Lemmy consumes speed and acid, and each day drinks a bottle of whisky; but he’s anti-cocaine and heroin. Despite his recent diabetes diagnosis, he’s still rocking and partying as hard as ever, unlike many of his contemporaries.

#4 – Shane MacGowan, The Pogues

He should be the face of anti-drug and anti-drinking campaigns: he lost teeth after bailing during a boozing sesh, puked on fans, tried to eat a Beach Boys CD, was ratted out to police by Sinead O’Connor so he’d quit heroin, and was forced out of his own band because of his drinking. Somehow he made it past his 30s, and today he’s still singing and hitting the pubs.

#3 – Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath

There’s no suit, but Ozzy is Iron Man. For decades the Prince of Darkness mixed booze with every drug imaginable. He’s survived overdoses, being fired from Sabbath, Randy Rhoads’ death and pissing on the Alamo while wearing women’s clothes. He’s snorted ants, and chomped heads off bats and doves. Apparently his DNA makes him capable of withstanding such abuse, and while he may be forgetful, he is alive.

#2 – Nikki Sixx, Mötley Crüe

All members of Mötley Crüe lived the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle, but it was Nikki Sixx who sank deepest into drugs – specifically, heroin. His troubled childhood and addictive personality meant this glam rock bassist had multiple overdoses and near-death experiences – actually, can you call being declared dead a “near-death” experience? That didn’t stop him from shooting up, and it took him decades to finally get sober.

#1 – Keith Richards, Rolling Stones

You’ve heard the stories: five trials on drug charges, used heroin till the late-‘70s, quit cocaine after falling out of a tree in 2006, was Johnny Depp’s inspiration for Captain Jack Sparrow, snorted his father’s ashes. Richards credits his endurance to high-quality drugs and never using more than necessary – whatever that means. Either way, it’s not unfair to wonder how this Rolling Stone made it to old age.

Do you agree with our list? Which musicians are you most surprised are still around? For more top 10 about your favorite artists, be sure to subscribe to

Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs