Admittedly, my pop culture preferences trope toward tortured artists.
My favorite author, David Foster Wallace, took his own life in 2008. Hearing Philip Seymour Hoffman followed suit recently nearly brought me to my knees.
I remember spending a night in college with a neighbor from the floor below me, drinking craft beers and listening to every Elliott Smith album in chronological order. On that October 2003 night, we felt obliged to send off the sweet-voiced, complicated singer-songwriter who – you guessed it – took his own life.
Dark, heavy stuff, right?
Well, I set out to write a list of my favorite musicians who I'll never be able to hear live, on account of the fact that they're no longer with us.
But I figured, What a downer, right? So, instead, here's my list of bands I'll never get to see live, regardless of why:
1. The Who
It doesn't matter whether they gather up the gumption to tour again. Anyone watching Super Bowl XLIV 4 years ago knows The Who will never truly be The Who again. And that's OK. Did you hear me, Rolling Stones? It's OK to burn out and fade away, however you want to do it.
2. Led Zeppelin
I never had a chance. Seriously. The Led's last major tour was in 1977, 2 years before my arrival.
Shy purveyor of second-hand clothes. Seriously. That was once Freddie Mercury's vocation. Then, all of a sudden, he, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor formed the most brilliant triumvirate of all time, in my humble opinion. AIDS took Freddie from us far too soon. I can't help but wonder what it would've been like to be in the presence of such a voice. Too bad, man.
4. The Smashing Pumpkins
How did I never catch these guys, considering the absurd number of shows I saw from 1996 to 2002? Couldn't have less interest in seeing any of the past few incarnations of the Pumpkins. Contrary to what he likely believes, Billy Corgan was just one part of a sturdy chain, … until links started breaking in 1996. I want Jimmy Chamberlin on drums, James Iha on guitar and D'arcy Wretzky on bass. There is no substitute for any of them.
5.James Murphy (aka "LCD Soundsystem")
Amazing beats. Great instruments. And a crazy-talented vocalist who makes a midlife crisis look and sound so very cool. I highly recommend the documentary "Shut Up and Play the Hits," a very deliberate, splendid film on Murphy's last show in April 2011 in New York.
6. Blind Melon
Since you're still reading, I know you won't bail on me at the end, so here's my dead-for-the-wrong-reason artist. Sure, an empty shell of what Blind Melon used to be might still be writing and touring. But without the free-(albeit self-destructive-)spirited frontman, Shannon Hoon, with us after an overdose in October 1995, it's an imposter. Blind Melon quietly had the potential to be a modern Zeppelin, but never came close to its apex. Sad, but true.