1. Amy Winehouse
This British pop icon was incredibly successful during her short career. Born in northern London, Amy Winehouse was heavily influenced by jazz, as several of her uncles were professional jazz musicians. After a successful U.K. debut, her hard-partying lifestyle led to suggestions from those close to her that she enter a rehab program. Winehouse refused and responded with her hit single “Rehab” on her “Back to Black” album.
Though the record went platinum and earned her five Grammy awards, over the next four years Winehouse created very little music and her drug abuse was beginning to take its toll. Amy Winehouse was found dead in London on July 23, 2011 after consuming a fatal amount of alcohol. She was only 27 years old.
2. Michael Jackson
The King of Pop is quite possibly the most successful performer of all time. Bursting onto the pop scene in 1968 when he was just ten years old, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 released four singles that peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970. Jackson soon went solo, but his career reached new levels when he released his 1982 album “Thriller,” which has become the bestselling album of all time with over 50 million copies sold.
In 2009, Jackson was found dead at his home in Los Angeles from an overdose of prescription drugs. At the Grammy Awards Ceremony in 2010, his children accepted a lifetime achievement award in his honor.
3. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston is undoubtedly one of the most admired pop singers ever. She produced numerous chart topping hits, including her heartbreaking cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”By the time she was 22, she had released her debut album, “Whitney Houston.” Her first no. 1 hit off the album was “Saving All My Love for You,” which marked the beginning of a record streak of seven straight singles to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Sadly, Whitney developed a drug habit in the mid-‘90s, and in 2012, she was found dead at the age of 49 in her Beverly Hills hotel room from an accidental drowning caused by heart disease and drug use.
The amount of success Aaliyah experienced at such a young age was nothing short of incredible. Born in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Detroit, Michigan, she used family connections to secure a Las Vegas performance with Gladys Knight at only 11 years old. Her debut album quickly reached platinum status on the success of two singles, “Back & Forth” and “At Your Best (You Are Love),” while her follow-up record went double platinum.
Shortly after the release of her self-title third album, she flew down to the Bahamas to film a video for the single “Rock the Boat,” but on the flight back to the mainland, the small, twin-engine plane she was riding crashed shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board. The R&B community was in disbelief.
5. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was a member of the R&B group TLC, where she was the most outspoken member. Born in Philadelphia, Lopes formed TLC in 1991 with fellow members, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas. They released “Crazysexycool” in 1994 and sold more than 11 million copies in the U.S. The album contained three number one hits, “Creep,” “Red Light Special,” and “Waterfalls.”
Four years later, TLC released another album titled “Fanmail,” winning two Grammys and eventually prompting “Left Eye” to embark on a solo project. Lopes’s solo album, “Supernova,” was set to debut in 2001, her death in a tragic car accident while on vacation in Honduras at the age of 30 prevented the album from ever receiving a formal release.