Famous Musicians Who Were Murdered

Source: Mike Prior / Redferns via Getty Images

Peter Tosh
> Death: Tortured and shot in 1987
> Genre: Reggae
> Instrument: Vocals, guitar, keyboards

An early reggae star as part of The Wailers — along with Bob Marley — Tosh was a singer and multi-instrumentalist who went on to have a successful solo career. He was killed when three men — led by an ex-con whom Tosh had once befriended — burst into his home in Kingston, Jamaica, demanding money. When Tosh denied having any at hand, the men tortured him, as well as several of his friends and associates who had come by the house and were also taken captive. The invaders eventually opened fire, killing Tosh and two of his friends and wounding four others.

Source: Courtesy of Amazon

Blaze Foley
> Death: Shot in 1989
> Genre: Country, Americana
> Instrument: Vocals

A legendary figure on the Austin music scene, singer-songwriter Foley was the subject of a 2018 biopic called “Blaze,” directed by Ethan Hawke, and was the title character in the Lucinda Williams song “Drunken Angel.” Foley was shot by the son of a close friend after he’d accused the young man of stealing his father’s welfare and pension checks.

Source: Archive Photos / Moviepix via Getty Images

Tupac Shakur
> Death: Shot in 1996
> Genre: Rap, hip-hop
> Instrument: Rapping, vocals

A rapper with an almost mythic posthumous reputation and a promising actor, Shakur is one of the best-selling recording artists in history. Embroiled in a hip-hop rivalry that pitted East Coast and West Coast artists and labels against each other, Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. His killer has never been caught.

Source: skinnylawyer / Flickr

The Notorious B.I.G.
> Death: Shot in 1997
> Genre: Rap, hip-hop
> Instrument: Rapping, vocals

The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls (and born Christopher Wallace) was a major hip-hop star, named Rapper of the Year by Billboard in 1995. He and Tupac Shakur (see above) had been friends, but were feuding in the mid-1960s as part of an East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry. Wallace was briefly suspected of having had a hand in Shakur’s death, and six months after the latter was shot, Wallace himself was killed in a drive-by shooting, in Los Angeles.

Source: Courtesy of A Jaki Byard Discography

Jaki Byard
> Death: Shot in 1999
> Genre: Jazz
> Instrument: Piano

An elder statesman of avant-garde and post-bop jazz with an encyclopedic knowledge of piano styles, as well as a teacher at the New England Conservatory of Music, Byard was shot at the age of 76 at his home in Queens under mysterious circumstances. There was no indication that anyone else had been in the room with him when he died and the gun used was never found.

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