When you think of the Temptations, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, what do you think of? Is it the catchy tunes? The great live performances? Those are things that you should remember, but also remember this: these bands have had the worst luck when it comes to mortality. All of them have tragically lost important members at inopportune times.
I’ll start with the Temptations. From their “Classic Five” era in the late ’60s, when it had its biggest hits, four of the five members are dead. David Ruffin, lead singer on hits such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” died of a cocaine overdose in 1991. Eddie Kendricks, lead on “Just My Imagination,” died of lung cancer in 1992. Paul Williams, the baritone singer who was called the glue of the group, committed suicide in 1972 and bass singer Melvin Franklin died of a hemorrhage in 1995. It was truly sad to learn about the band’s fall and the tragic ways that they lost their lives.
When you look at Lynyrd Skynyrd, it all goes back to one single tragic day. On Oct. 20, 1977, the small plane that they were riding in on the way to Baton Rouge, La., crashed in a forest in Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister Cassie Gaines. The band decided to end their reign as southern rock kings as they felt that they couldn’t go on without their frontman Van Zant.
After the crash, in which everyone was seriously injured in one way or another, things went downhill for each of the band member’s health. Guitarist Allen Collins psyche deteriorated and he died of pneumonia after a car accident in 1990. Bassist Leon Wilkeson died at age 49 of liver and lung disease and keyboardist Billy Powell died in 2009 of a heart attack.
The Allman Brothers are known only for two deaths, but they are eerily similar and creepy at the same time. In 1971, the main string section was Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, but within a year both would be dead. Duane was known as one of the foremost guitarists in the world when he died in a motorcycle accident. He swerved to avoid a semi and slid 100 feet with the bike on top of him. Oakley died the same way almost a year later within 100 yards of where Allman died.
When looking back at these three stories, you’ve got to ask if it’s kind of creepy that each of the bands had members die tragically. The answer would probably be yes, but is there any correlation between them? I don’t think so, but you cannot deny that it is slightly disturbing that all of them are tragic. So, are they cursed? I don’t think so.