Music Dorkery

New Study Claims That Metal Musicians and Rappers Have Lower Life Expectancies Than Performers of Other Genres


I know we have a lot of Australian readers, so I gotta ask you folks: what up with your schools being all anti-metal n’ shit?!?

First, there was the infamous 2011 study by the University of Melbourne’s Dr. Katrina McFerran, which claimed that “Heavy metal music has negative impacts on youth,” and that “Young people at risk of depression are more likely to listen habitually and repetitively to heavy metal music.” Now, a new study conducted by Dianna Theadora Kenny, Professor of Psychology and Music at the University of Sydney, examines the lifespans of musicians in different genres… and concludes that metallers have the lowest life expectancy of any musician in any genre, save for rappers.

Kenny admits that these results are due in part to the fact that “musicians who are dying youngest belong to newer genres (electronic, punk, metal,rap,hip-hop) that have not existed as long as genres such as jazz, country, gospel and blues… [because] they have not had the same opportunity to live a full lifespan.” In other words, because there have been more jazz musicians over time than there have been metal musicians, their average lifespan is higher. Still, she thinks that’s only part of the picture, presumably because, for example, the average lifespan of a hundred jazz musicians who died very young would still not exceed the average lifespan of twenty-five metal musicians with died very old.

So what does Kenny think accounts for the statistical divide? She doesn’t offer any psychological explanation, but she does offer this:

“For male musicians across all genres, accidental death (including all vehicular incidents and accidental overdose) accounted for almost 20% of all deaths. But accidental death for rock musicians was higher than this (24.4%) and for metal musicians higher still (36.2%).

“Suicide accounted for almost 7% of all deaths in the total sample. However, for punk musicians, suicide accounted for 11% of deaths; for metal musicians, a staggering 19.3%. At just 0.9%, gospel musicians had the lowest suicide rate of all the genres studied.”

Kenny goes on to assert that “Many musicians from younger genres… appear unlikely to live long enough to acquire the illnesses of middle and old age.”

Although I’d direct Kenny towards her earlier point about metal being a young genre (the original members of Black Sabbath, largely considered to be the first metal band, are not only still alive — they’re all under seventy)… I’m also sad to say that I don’t find this that hard to believe. I mean, look at the most notable deaths in the metal world over the course of the past two years: Jeff Hanneman died at age forty-nine from alcohol-related cirrhosis, Dave Brockie died at age fifty from an accidental heroin overdose, Wayne Static died at age forty-nine from mixing alcohol with prescription meds… metal dudes definitely love to party, and partying can, and often does, have serious consequences.

So does this mean that Dr. Katrina McFerran’s 2011 study was correct — that metal is, indeed, harmful to youth? I don’t buy that for a second… but I do buy the whole “it’s more likely to attract depressed people” part. Metal is dark as fuck! Of course it attracts the depressed! But it also acts as an outlet for those people to vent their negative emotions. My point being: okay, our musicians might have a high death rate, but I’d wager the death rate would be even higher if metal didn’t exist.

Below are some nerdy charts for you to pore over before heading to our comments section to bitch about this study and/or my interpretation of the study. You can also read the whole study here.age of death and musical genre cause of death by genre

[via Dangerous Minds; thanks to Charlie for the tip]

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