Keep Me In Your Heart: The Last Songs of 30 Legendary Artists

Central Press/Getty Images / Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images / Express/Getty
Central Press/Getty Images / Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images / Express/Getty

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY BRYAN WAWZENEK AND PUBLISHED BY ULTIMATE CLASSIC ROCK ON NOVEMBER 12, 2018.

Endings are difficult. Whether you’re expecting a slow fade to black or you get startled by an abrupt cut, finality can be hard to accept. It's no different in rock ’n’ roll. Each song in the list below is an ending, as we remember the last songs of 30 legendary artists.

“That’s it!” Janis Joplin laughed, and it was. “I ain’t too old to die,” Bon Scott sang, and he wasn’t. Rock history is littered with musicians who died young and many of the last recordings on this list preceded a death, from Jimi Hendrix’s “Belly Button Window” to Led Zeppelin’s “I’m Gonna Crawl.” Some artists’ final studio work was done in the service of a friend (Tom Petty, Lou Reed) while others were collaborations (Lemmy Kilmister, Chris Cornell).

Of course, some of these songs aren’t the result of a rock star’s death at all. When bands break up—from the Beatles to Cream to the Police—there has to be one, last recording. And then there are musicians, such as Billy Joel, who attempt to retire from the studio, even as they continue to perform.

Some of these last hurrahs rank with the artist’s best-known material (the Doors and Roxy Music went out with classics) and others are covers: The Band and Jerry Garcia said goodbye with tributes. Some acts delivered definitive final statements about their group (Pink Floyd) or even life itself (Warren Zevon), while others provided resonant insight into their last year of life on the planet (Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain).

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