Recently I have been pondering life, death, and how an early exit can be the best career move ever.
Jim Morrison was undoubtedly a phenomenal front man. He created a mold that many performers have aspired to ever since. But he is more then just imitated. He is mythologized by popular culture to the point that people stole his grave stone bust. Sure some of his lyrics were interesting and strange, but is he a genius? No. He is a dude that died before his time. Or rather just at the right time.
If Jim Morrison lived to see past his 27 years he would have been remembered fondly, but at this point in time he would be doing a Paul McCartney like farewell tour.
Okay, so you could argue with me that Tupac (2pac) is still alive, but officially, he is dead.
Tupac was a great rapper. He was an innovator, a poet, and a charismatic artist. But if he was not dead, he would not have the same impact as he does today. And just so everyone is aware, Tupac has released more albums posthumously, then when he was alive. They are SOOOO milking his death.
And finally we have Kurt Cobain.
Kurt Cobain could be the most mythologized rock’n’roll icon of all time (with the exception of Hendrix).
He was the spokesman for a generation. He lived a difficult life and decided to take Neil Young’s advice and burn out instead of fade away. To this day Kurt Cobain is still a hero to millions of people who feel his pain and angst.
But look at Cobain’s career. He put out 2 great albums and a great acoustic one, then burnt out. Brilliant. You can’t write a more perfect ending.
So if you want to encase your reputation in mythology you should die young*.
Chris Martin should have died before X&Y was released if he wanted to be immortalized.
Axl Rose should have died after ‘Use your Illusion.’
And Justin Timberlake should be thanking his lucky he didn’t die during N’Sync, or he would be remembered as a hack.
Agree, disagree, but you know its true.
But remember that for this to work you must have made an universally acclaimed piece of music that has changed the trajectory of your popular music.