“Andy Rourke and Other Rock Idols: Tragically Humanized by Cancer”

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Rockers are often viewed as immortal beings who only leave due to their addictions or because they get tired of living. However, the truth is that they are exposed to life’s tragedies like anyone else. The recent death of Andy Rourke, former bassist for The Smiths, who died at the age of 59 from pancreatic cancer, is a sober reminder of this fact. Pancreatic cancer has also taken great musicians such as George Harrison and Luis Alberto Spinetta. Other famous musicians who have died from cancer include Jon Brookes, Joe Cocker, Gregg Allman, Neil Peart, David Roback, and Eddie van Halen.

The death of David Bowie was a great loss to the music industry. The “rock chameleon” passed away on his 69th birthday, just two days after the release of his twenty-fifth studio album, “Blackstar,” The album was accompanied by a jazz quartet and received widespread praise from fans and critics. Bowie was diagnosed with liver cancer 18 months before his death, but he kept it almost a secret. He gave clues to the world in the video for “Lazarus,” the second single he released before the release of his last album.

Little Richard, whose real name was Richard Wayne Penniman, was a historic pioneer in the music industry. He was revered by musicians like the Beatles and Rolling Stones, as he had a great energy on stage, performing on the piano and fueleing rock, soul, funk, blues, and hip hop. Penniman was a Pentecostal minister in the 1960s and also acted occasionally before he died in 2020 at the age of 87 from bone cancer.

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Lemmy Kilmister was Motörhead by definition and one of the greats of heavy rock. He was known for his love of video games and of drink, anarchy, and brutal honesty. He passed away due to terminal prostate cancer 2 days after his 70th birthday in 2015.

Adam “MCA” Yauch was a rapper, bassist, and director of several videos for the Beastie Boys. His emotional guidance was critical to the band’s success. Yauch was a Buddhist and dedicated a significant portion of his life to fighting for the Tibetan independence movement, with the organization of the Tibetan Freedom Concerts, a series of presentations with prominent artists in various parts of the world between 1996 and 2012. He died at the age of 47 in May 2012 due to parotid cancer.

Santa Sabina was one of the few groups in the region with an “MTV Unplugged,” but their lead singer, Rita Guerrero, was always the best kept rock secret in Latin America. Guerrero added all the histrionics of her theatrical work and her particular soprano voice to the band. She was a cultural manager and fighter for social causes such as the one led by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Unfortunately, at the age of 46, she lost the battle against breast cancer in 2011.

Finally, there are some musicians who overcame the battle against cancer. David Mustaine, the leader of Megadeth, managed to beat throat cancer after almost a year of treatment in 2020. Bruce Dickinson, the singer of Iron Maiden, was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2015, but overcame it. Rob Halford, the lead singer of Judas Priest, defeated prostate cancer in 2021, which was detected during the pandemic. Draco Rosa was able to overcome non-Hodgkin lymphoma, first in 2011 and later with a relapse two years later, which led to a double bone marrow transplant. Like any battle, some die, while others manage to defeat the enemy.

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