Rock Death in 2003

Exhuming and scoring last year's pop-music demises

PC: 8, FC: 1, M:1. Total: 10

D.O. Cannon, 26, Queens rapper signed to Murder Inc. Shot three times in the chest and leg in New York.

PC: 3, FC: 6, M: 1. Total: 10

Earl King, 69, New Orleans R&B legend, composer of "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)" and "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights." Diabetes complications.

PC: 8, FC: 1, M: 1. Total 10

Floyd Tillman, 88, electric guitar pioneer and the composer/performer of the very first country cheating hit ("Slippin' Around.") Tillman also wrote "It Makes No Difference Now." Leukemia.

PC: 8, FC: 1, M: 1. Total: 10

Nina Simone, 70, barbed-tongued jazz, blues and soul chanteuse. Died in sleep of undisclosed cause.

PC: 9, FC: 1, M: 1. Total 11

Wesley Willis, 40, mentally ill Casio maestro, writer of bizarre songs, indie rock icon. Leukemia.

PC: 5, FC: 5, M: 1. Total: 11

Camoflauge, 21, Savannah, Georgia, rapper. Shot twice in the presence of his toddler son while standing in front of his Pure Pain recording studio.

PC: 3, FC: 6, M: 2*. Total: 11

* Extra point rewarded for ironic studio name

June Carter Cash, 73, musician and wife of Johnny Cash. Heart surgery complications.

PC: 7*, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 11

* Extra point awarded for keeping Johnny alive all these years

Matt Davis, 26, Ten Grand singer-guitarist. Seizure.

PC: 3, FC: 6, M: 2. Total: 11

Ronnie Dawson, 64, rockabilly legend. Oral cancer.

PC: 6, FC: 5, M: 1. Total: 12

Soulja Slim, 25, New Orleans rapper, formerly signed to No Limit. Shot twice in the face and five times in the chest in front of his mother's house.

PC: 5 , FC: 6, M: 1. Total: 12

Johnny Paycheck, 64, honky-tonker extraordinaire, respiratory illnesses.

PC: 7 , FC: 2 , M: 4*. Total: 13.

*Extra points for surviving an explosion a few years back in his hospital-room oxygen tent brought on by his lighting a cigarette inside. And he's also the only guy on the list to have been tried and convicted for shooting a man in the head after an argument over the best way to cook venison.

Sam Phillips, 80, Sun Records honcho, the long-bearded patriarch of rock and roll. Respiratory failure.

PC: 10, FC: 2, M: 1. Total: 13

Ty Longley, 31, Great White guitarist. Perished in club fire, along with 85 fans.

PC: 1, FC: 2*, M: 10. Total: 13

*Points docked in spite of relative youth for playing with Great White.

Celia Cruz, 77, salsa queen. Brain tumor.

PC: 10, FC: 3, M: 1. Total: 14

Spekt 1, 23, up-and-coming San Francisco Bay Area rapper. Run over twice by a Chevy Tahoe.

PC: 1, FC: 5, M: 9. Total: 15

At last, a rapper comes up with a new way to die.

Howie Epstein, 47, former bass player with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Apparent heroin overdose. Arguably the most famous of the classic rockers to die in 2003 dies the ultimate classic rock death.

PC: 6, FC: 1*, M: 9. Total: 16

* Points docked for being an ex-Heartbreaker at time of death.

Johnny Cash, 71, American icon. Country and rock legend. Managed to stay contemporary for almost 50 years. Diabetes-related illnesses.

PC: 10, FC: 6, M: 1. Total: 17

Warren Zevon, 56, acerbic singer-songwriter. Lung cancer.

PC: 8, FC: 5, M: 5*. Total: 18

*Extra points for continuing to smoke heavily even after diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

Gary Stewart, 58, honky-tonk great, known for "Backsliders' Wine," "Out of Hand" and "She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles)." Self-inflicted gunshot wound.

PC: 7, FC: 4, M: 8. Total: 20

Jeremy Michael Ward, 27, Mars Volta and De Facto "sound manipulator." Apparent drug overdose.

PC: 4, FC: 7, M: 9. Total: 20

Matthew Jay, 24, British pop/folk singer-songwriter. Defenestration.

PC: 4, FC: 7, M: 9. Total: 20.

Though little known on these shores, Jay was signed to Capitol and was often likened in the British music press to David Gray and Badly Drawn Boy; he had toured with Starsailor, Shelby Lynne, Dido and the Doves. On September 24, Jay jumped or fell from his seventh-story apartment window in Nottingham, England. The press release his label sent to the media tends to support the former supposition: "His act would appear to have been an impulsive gesture following a professionally difficult year and, perhaps, a difficult day."

The Exploding Hearts, various ages, Portland, Oregon-based punk band. Van wreck. Three of the four members of this rising group were killed while on tour after one of their members fell asleep at the wheel, hit the median, overcorrected and rolled the van.

PC: 5, FC: 8*, M: 10*. Total: 23

* Extra points given for future contributions since several of the members might have made something of themselves; extra points for manner since multiple members died.

Elliott Smith, 34, punk-folk singer-songwriter, Academy Award nominee, Generation X's Nick Drake. Self-inflicted knife wound in chest.

PC: 6, FC: 9, M: 10*. Total: 25

* Extra points for grisliness of suicide method

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