Four Artists Who Died Before Playing Houston

amy_winehouse july 26.jpg
theindependent.co.uk
When Amy Winehouse died Saturday, almost everyone noted how the troubled British soul singer had joined the "27 Club," the list of legendary musicians who passed away at that age that also includes Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, bluesman Robert Johnson and Texas' own Janis Joplin. There are many others... so many that the 27 Club has its own Wiki page.

Winehouse also joined another club that may be even smaller: Artists who passed away before they ever had a chance to perform in Houston. The only U.S. cities she ever did play were New York, L.A., Austin at SXSW 2007, and Lollapalooza and Coachella that year. Winehouse had planned a more extensive tour of the States for later on in '07 - Houston wasn't on that itinerary, either - but it got postponed and later canceled, and she never performed in America again.

It took a good bit of research to put together the rest of this list. For one thing, 27 is pretty old in touring years, since most artists start down that road in their early 20s or even earlier. The other is that for all the griping we do about losing shows to Austin and Dallas, Houston is still a pretty big city and major tour market, so most acts with any kind of draw wind up routed through here sooner or later, and usually sooner. Provided they live long enough.

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The other reason is that, despite what you may have heard, the Internet is far from a reliable record-keeping resource. In two days of research, Rocks Off was unable to come up with conclusive information one way or the other about several other artists who died relatively young and whom we suspect may never performed in the Bayou City: Johnson; Latino rock and roller Ritchie Valens; singer-songwriter softie Jim Croce; rap loose cannons Eazy-E and Ol' Dirty Bastard.

To give you an idea what a tough time we had, while we were researching this article, we were able to cross off two more from the "maybe" list: Minutemen bassist D.Boon, who played at Lawndale before the December 1985 van accident that claimed his life, even though agit-folkie Billy Bragg was unable to make it due to visa issues. Rocks Off contributor and "punk professor" David Ensminger sent us the flyer you see at right and says the show was in 1984 ("methinks").

Meanwhile, we were almost positive Tupac Shakur had never performed in Houston. We even had one of our operatives reach out to Bun B, who said he didn't think so either. However, Digital Underground did open Public Enemy's "Fear of a Black Planet" tour at the Summit in August 1990. It's unclear whether Shakur performed with the Oakland-based "Humpty Dance" crew at that show, but since he was a roadie for DU before joining the group, there's a good chance 'Pac was at least in the building. Also on the bill were Ice Cube and Big Daddy Kane - what a show that must have been.

The following three, though, we're almost 100 percent certain went to their graves without ever getting a chance to entertain (or enrage) a Houston audience. If you can think of others, or can confirm any of the other names we listed above, do be a love and let us know in the comments.



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11 comments
Chris D
Chris D

    I saw N.W.A. twice at the Summit in 1989 and Eazy E was there. The first time was a bill headlined by Guy and MC Hammer. I think Tone Loc and Toni Tony Tone were there too...The second time, NWA headlined over Sir Mix a Lot, Too Short , and some other ones...       Tupac WAS at that DU show...He didnt actually rhyme, but he and the group were humping blow up dolls during the song "Freaks of the Industry" if that counts... But I remember he was advisetised to play this club called Boomerang in 1993 or so...Dont know if it ever actually happend though...

YankeeDoodle
YankeeDoodle

Well, being the ultimate poser, I know it's probably not by chance that a strikingly beautiful female Jewish artist from London would pass on playing a big show in Houston.  I just hope I don't turn up dead one day myself for spurning the emotionally handicapped garbage heap we call home.

JensenLee
JensenLee

Jim Croce’s potential as a musician seemed unlimited when he was killed in a plane crash in July 1973. The characters in songs like “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” and “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” were based on people Croce had met. Rockaeology at http://bit.ly/eFGFPL has more about the real Leroy Brown, whom Croce met while serving in the National Guard. Fed up with the Guard, Brown went AWOL and had to be brought back in handcuffs. Croce also describes the origin of one of his most memorable lines: “Meaner than a junkyard dog.”

Tabmgmt
Tabmgmt

Billy Bragg did not end up playing with the Minutemen at Lawndale, as he tried to sneak out of the UK with a tourist visa and the UK immigrations dept recognized him and did not let him board the plane, so I found out a few hours before the show that Billy Bragg was not going to perform, but no one asked for a refund, as they were all there to see the Minute Men and the Minutemen rocked as usual. The Minutemen flyer was made by me or Gene B.

unclelijah
unclelijah

Let's also not forget, in what may be Houston's most significant contribution to 90's rock music, that Shannon Hoon bought the drugs that killed him in Houston

unclelijah
unclelijah

Buckley actually played the UAB twice. The second time was in April of 1995 (I believe). He also played an in-store at Cactus in December of 94. I was at all 3.

I don't remember Big Daddy Kane at that PE show. Kid and Play were there tho, I also remember DU and the Cube (w/YoYo)

Craigley
Craigley

Meh.  Lilly Allen played Engine Room and at least she gives her undercarriage a bit of a 'how's your father' now and then.

Jeff
Jeff

I was in a band that played UAB the a week or two before Buckley in 1995. I remember seeing the poster, but I didn't really know much about him at the time, so I didn't go, unfortunately.

jayc
jayc

I was at the Buckley shows at Cactus and UAB.  missed him the next time.  I was blown away by the Cactus acoustic set I had to see him that night.

I was also at the Nirvana AstroArena show.  I was bummed with all the kids and no beer.

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