40 years since her passing, no other artist in popular music has ever replicated her vocal brillianceby Paul Lever / April 16, 2018 / Leave a comment
She died, a burnt-out case, 40 years ago this week. She was 31 years old. The proximate cause of her death was a cerebral haemorrhage as a result of a fall downstairs. But her life had for a long time been a downward spiral of drink, drugs and loss of control.
Professionally it seemed to be all over. Her voice had gone (she had chain smoked for years); her weight had ballooned; her recording contract had not been renewed; her last tour, an attempted comeback, had failed. The money had run out. There was no work in sight.
Her personal life was in even worse shape. Most of her friends had despaired of her and of the mess she had made of her life. Her marriage, shaky at the best of times, had run its course: the day before her death her husband had, without telling her, flown to Australia on a one way ticket, taking with him their nine month old daughter whom she had proved incapable of looking after.
Many of the rock musicians who died young in Britain in the 1970s were the best of their generation. Keith Moon was the most inventive drummer. Jimi Hendrix the most versatile guitarist.