Rock Stars Who Cheated Death More Than Once

Being a rock star is actually a lot of work. Even after you've made it and you're no longer struggling just to get your friends to show up at your open mic, it's not just riding around in private jets and limousines. There are grueling tours that require you to spend months at time doing nothing but rehearsals, sound checks, and travel. There's the physical toll of essentially running a marathon every night as you perform for hours after spending the day getting ready to perform. And then there's the mental toll of always being on, always running at full tilt for people who paid good money to see you — often while still being expected to produce new material so you can keep this exhausting cycle going indefinitely.

So it's not surprising that plenty of rock stars run into health trouble, whether it's artificially induced through substance abuse or stems from being worn down by their career choice. It's not even surprising when a rock star dies young. It's a little surprising when they cheat death, coming close to an early grave but somehow sidestepping it — and it's downright amazing if they do so twice. The rock stars who cheated death more than once are part of an exclusive club they might not have wanted to join — and hopefully won't join again.

Bret Michaels' body is trying to kill him

Most of us are pretty friendly with our bodies, the thing we live inside and rely on for transportation and the ability to play video games. The one thing most of us can rely on in this life is that our bodies share our desire to stay alive, and they work hard to defeat infections and clot wounds in order to achieve this.

Unless you're Bret Michaels, lead singer of Poison (and recently the Banana on The Masked Singer). Not only has Michaels dealt with diabetes his entire life, but the year 2010 specifically wasn't a great one for him in terms of longevity. That was the year he experienced not one but two close calls with death within a matter of weeks. First, as People reports, Michaels suffered terrible stomach pain while on tour. When he broke out into a high fever, he was rushed to the hospital, where doctors performed emergency surgery to remove his appendix. If he'd waited any longer, he might not have lived long enough to experience his second brush with death.

As Vanity Fair details, a few weeks later, Michaels suffered a brain hemorrhage that required him to go into surgery again. The initial prognosis was pretty grim, making Michaels' survival of the experience pretty epic.

Keith Richards was electrocuted and poisoned

When you see the words "Keith Richards" and "cheated death," you might assume you know what's coming: something about drugs, something about how Keith Richards is an immortal vampire who can't be killed by normal means. But! You'd be wrong. This time.

Keith Richards, lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones and legendary hard-partying rock star, has indeed come close to death several times — but not necessarily because of substances. As The Huffington Post recounts, Richards thinks he's come close to death "a dozen or so times," but one that really stands out is when he was literally electrocuted onstage at Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium in 1965. A microphone stand wasn't properly grounded, and when Richards set his guitar against it, there was an explosion of sparks, and Richards was knocked off his feet. He was rushed to the hospital, where a doctor unhelpfully told everyone that "they either wake up or they don't."

Years later, Richards found himself in Switzerland, doing drugs with some people (which might be the most rock star sentence ever written) when someone slipped strychnine into his dope (as people do). Strychnine will definitely kill you if you take too much of it. According to The Guardian, Richards slipped into a coma and claims he couldn't move or speak but could hear everyone freaking out about having killed one of the most famous rock stars in the world.

Jonathan Davis: Asthma and a Blood Disease

Jonathan Davis fronted one of the most innovative rock bands in history, Korn. Combining hip-hop, heavy metal, and attitude, the nu metal sound that Korn helped to create and popularize changed rock music forever. Davis might be a famous rock star, but his first brush with death came long before he took the stage.

As The Guardian reports, Davis suffered from severe asthma as a child. In the wake of his parents' divorce, he began cycling in and out of hospitals as a result. Davis is clear-eyed about his battle with the disease, saying, "I was supposed to die." In fact, a really bad asthma attack when he was just five years old almost killed him. To this day, he can be spotted using an oxygen tank at live performances.

Davis' second brush with death happened in 2006. As Kerrang notes, he began experiencing some horrifying symptoms — severe bleeding from his gums and elsewhere and terrible bruising — after taking an antibiotic while on tour. He made his way to a doctor in London, who diagnosed him with immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a blood infection causing a dangerously low platelet level. Davis, who is a very physical performer who often "head bangs" onstage, could have easily caused himself a brain aneurysm as a result of the condition.

Steven Tyler almost overdosed many times

It's not shocking to hear that Steven Tyler, the lead singer for legendary rock band Aerosmith, was a pretty heavy drug user in his time. As IFC reports, Tyler himself estimates he spent tens of millions of dollars on illegal substances over the course of his life. His drug habit, along with the drug habits of several bandmates, almost ruined their career, leaving them almost unable to function by the early 1980s. Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry were known as "The Toxic Twins," and their drug abuse consumed their lives and almost ended their careers.

Sobriety and a comeback solidified Aerosmith's legacy, but Tyler isn't shy about the true cost of that rock 'n' roll lifestyle. He once told Howard Stern that he died as a result of drug overdoses "three or four times." During one of these brushes with death, he turned blue, and his friends placed him in a tub of cold water to revive him. As Tyler told Stern, these experiences didn't scare him so much as convince him that there was an afterlife, telling Stern that he's absolutely a religious guy, in part due to his near-death experiences.

Johnny Cash battled hotel rooms and ostriches

Johnny Cash was a rebel his entire life. The Man in Black didn't do anything by half measures, whether it was his live performances, his drug abuse — or his brushes with death, which have to be some of the strangest stories in rock history. Maybe history, period.

First, there was the time he nearly froze to death ... while sleeping indoors in his hotel room. As the Ames Tribune reports, this was during Johnny's pill-popping heyday in the 1960s. Stopping in Iowa one winter, Cash stripped down for bed, opened the windows, and then passed out on top of the covers. When he didn't answer his door, people broke into the room and found him cold as ice, nearly frozen to death.

Later, in 1981, Cash had a second brush with death, this time involving an ... ostrich. According to Cash: The Autobiography (via Far Out Magazine), the incident involved an ostrich named, of all things, Waldo. Cash kept a small zoo of exotic animals on his property in Tennessee, and a harsh winter had caused several ostriches to die, including Waldo's mate, who would not go into the barn and thus froze to death. Afterward, Waldo attacked Cash and would have killed him if his metal belt buckle hadn't protected him from the worst. It might seem crazy until you learn that ostriches are actually the largest birds in the world, and quite strong. Although attacks on humans are rare, if you ever see an ostrich giving you the stinkeye, take a lesson from Johnny Cash and run.

Meat Loaf, a shot put, and a heart attack

Death by shot put isn't a common cause of death in this world — especially not for rock stars. But as Rolling Stone reports, famous singer Meat Loaf actually credits his career to almost being killed by a shot put that hit him in the head while he was in high school. The injury was near-fatal and almost certainly would have been if Meat Loaf hadn't been standing more than 60 feet away from the athlete who launched the 12-pound projectile. The singer claims he couldn't sing at all before the injury but woke up afterward with the famous voice we all know.

Then Meat Loaf, who has always been a big man and who always puts on energetic performances, collapsed onstage in 2003. According to Rolling Stone, the singer actually suffered a heart attack right in the middle of his performance and had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The doctors discovered that he was suffering from Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a heart condition that often shows no symptoms before prompting a heart attack.

Meat Loaf didn't die that day, but he continues to have issues. The Washington Post notes that he's collapsed onstage during performances several times, usually blaming his asthma for making him light-headed.

Ozzy Osbourne almost died from a crash -- and a manicure

When you think of "rock stars who probably died a few times," the name Ozzy Osbourne probably comes to mind. This is the guy who once bit the head off of a bat during a concert, after all. Someone with that kind of impulse control and legendary drug use has probably flatlined on a few ER tables, right?

Maybe, but the two times that Ozzy barely avoided the Big Sleep had nothing directly to do with drugs or culinary choices. The first time involved something as boring as an all-terrain vehicle accident. As The Guardian reports, Ozzy was tooling around his property on a quad-bike when he lost control and crashed — with the bike landing on top of him. ABC News adds that the accident required emergency surgery, and Ozzy was in a coma for eight days, near death.

After surviving that horrific experience, Ozzy had a second brush with death in 2018 after getting a manicure. As Page Six reports, he contracted a really bad infection after having his nails trimmed and getting a cut on his thumb — and after (another) emergency surgery, doctors told him that if the infection had spread to his blood, he would certainly have died. Who knew manicures were so rock 'n' roll?

Nikki Sixx enjoyed two drug overdoses

Nikki Sixx is probably more famous as a rock star-level party animal than he is as the bassist and main songwriter for the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe. When you're known as the most dedicated partier and drug-user in Mötley Crüe, you know you've got a problem.

In fact, after the band's tell-all memoir, The Dirt, was made into a hit Netflix movie, everyone now knows that Sixx literally died briefly in 1987 when he overdosed on heroin. As Rolling Stone reports, he was dead for about two minutes before EMS workers revived him in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Reportedly, it took two adrenaline shots to convince his heart to get moving again.

But as Newsweek reports, that was actually the second time Sixx nearly succumbed to a drug overdose. Sixx's heroin habit was already well-known (and a real professional problem for the band) by 1983, and at the end of a tour with Cheap Trick, Sixx found a drug dealer who helped him inject a dose — and Sixx collapsed. His heartbeat was so faint that the dealer assumed he was dead, and Sixx regained consciousness to find he was being carried to a dumpster for disposal.

Charlie Puth almost toured himself to death

These days, musicians are typically more worried about their social media presence than partying like rock stars, but that doesn't mean they can't have an exciting brush with death. Or two. For example, consider Charlie Puth.

As E! Online reports, the singer was totally and completely unprepared for just how hard life is when on a lengthy concert tour. He neglected his own health and didn't know how to live a healthy lifestyle while racing around the world to perform, which resulted in a series of serious illnesses — serious enough that the singer almost died twice from his symptoms. As J-14 reports, Puth wound up in the hospital, where doctors told him that his immune system had crashed because he'd never been allowed to recover from his initial illness due to the tour's punishing schedule. That meant he was chronically unwell, resulting in not one but two near-fatal collapses.

These near-death experiences prompted Puth to replace his team, bringing his sister on to manage the rest of his tour. With someone who cared in charge, Puth was able to regain some balance and now knows how to tour in a healthy and safe way.

Alice Cooper almost hanged himself and also survived a crash

Alice Cooper is a rock icon. With his dark eye makeup and crazy stage show, he's one of the most recognizable rock stars of all time. While Cooper's not known as a particularly crazy party guy, that hasn't stopped him from nearly dying twice — once when an elaborate stage act went terrifyingly wrong.

In 1988, Cooper was on tour and designed a scene where he would appear to hang himself for shock value. According to The Independent, Cooper consulted with the famous magician James Randi to design a wire harness that would support his weight so he could safely mime hanging himself. But Cooper skimped on maintenance: He used the rig over and over again, until one night, he put the rope over his head — and the wire snapped. Cooper almost literally hanged himself onstage, but luckily, the rope slipped, and Cooper only blacked out and suffered a fall.

More recently, Billboard reports that Cooper was involved in a horrific car crash in 2018. While home in Arizona, Cooper was involved in a head-on collision with another car. Both vehicles were totaled — but miraculously, Cooper walked away without a scratch. Weirdly, the accident occurred just a few weeks after Cooper had experienced a full-on false alarm nuclear attack alert while vacationing in Hawaii — and just before his birthday. As the rocker quipped, "Somebody was trying to keep me from getting to 70."

Bono Almost Died in a bike crash -- and from a mystery illness

U2 was once the biggest band in the world, with massive albums, humongous world tours, and huge, chart-topping hit songs. But they were also consummate professionals, and you didn't hear much about near-fatal escapades during their heyday. For lead singer Bono, that came much more recently.

First, as Page Six reports, Bono was biking in New York City's Central Park in 2014 when he was involved in a high-speed crash with another bicyclist. The crash sent him to the hospital, where it was touch-and-go for a while. The New York Post speculates that U2's 2017 song "Lights of Home," in which Bono sings "I should be dead," is actually about this accident.

A few years after the bike crash, Bono announced that he'd almost died during the making of U2's album Songs of Experience. In a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, the singer alluded to an "extinction event" for him that was "physical" but refused to elaborate on the specifics of his health crisis. Bono also noted that his own attitudes toward health and mortality probably contributed to it, mentioning that his longtime friend and bandmate The Edge "has this thing that he says about me, that I look upon my body as an inconvenience."

Elton John attempted suicide and battled an infection

The success of any songwriter is usually due to their ability to channel their own experiences into song. Elton John is one of the most successful songwriters in rock history, and many of his greatest hits are melancholy wonders exploring real emotional pain. That emotional pain led John to attempt suicide.

As Ultimate Classic Rock reports, in 1975, John was riding the first wave of his celebrity. He was a best-selling musician, he was world-famous — and he was miserable. He hosted a party at his home and then suddenly walked out to the pool area, announced he'd taken "85 Valiums," and dived into the water. He almost succeeded — he had to be dragged out, and his stomach had to be pumped.

Over the years, John found a measure of happiness and eventually became sober. But in 2017, death once again came looking for him. As Today reports, John was diagnosed with prostate cancer — but that isn't the brush with death. He underwent surgery to remove the cancer, which was successful. But then he suffered a post-surgery infection, which sent him back to the hospital and nearly killed him. John says it took seven weeks for him to recover from the infection.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).