The city of Austin, Texas, unveiled a statue of country music legend Willie Nelson on April 20, and the 78-year-old musician was on hand to enjoy the ceremony. Too often, music stars are only honored in such fashion after their death. And what fun is that? Here are 10 interesting statues or sculptures around the world honoring music legends who met their demise much too early.
10. Freddie Mercury
Queen’s lead singer, who died in 1991, would probably be surprised to see how his lyrics from songs like Bohemian Rhapsody and We Will Rock You have been memorialized through not just classic rock radio but in commercials and movies. A statue of Mercury unveiled in 1996, overlooking Lake Geneva in Montreaux, Switzerland, is a popular shrine for Mercury fans. Mercury and his fellow band mates were regulars in the area during their heyday, and owned Mountain Studios there. Today, the town hosts a memorial day each September to honor Farrokh Bulsara — better known by his stage name, Freddie Mercury.
9. Bon Scott
The lead vocalist and songwriter for many of AC/DC’s biggest early hits, Scott died after a night of partying in February 1980. In the years since, he’s earned honors at or near the top of several rock polls for the greatest rock vocalist of all time. The above statue of him sits at Fisherman’s Wharf in Fremantle, Western Australia, where he spent much of his life.
8. Phil Lynott
Although Lynott is the most obscure musician on this list, you’ve undoubtedly heard a song he wrote, The Boys Are Back in Town, a top 40 U.S. hit in 1976 that lives on today on classic rock radio. Lynott publicly battled drug and alcohol problems before dying at age 36 in 1986 from heart failure and pneumonia. In 2005, the Irish rocker was honored with a bronze statue on Harry Street in Dublin.
7. Otis Redding
In a just world, soul and R&B legend Otis Redding would have lived long enough to see his seminal song, (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, become a classic. Instead, just two days after he finished recording the song in 1967, the 26-year-old Redding died in a plane crash in Wisconsin. The above sculpture sits in Gateway Park in Macon, Georgia.
6. Stevie Ray Vaughan
Widely regarded as one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Stevie Ray Vaughan conquered drug and alcohol problems in the mid-1980s, but lost his life at age 35 in 1989 in a helicopter crash following a concert. Born in Dallas, Vaughan moved to Austin, Texas, as a teen where he began his rise to fame. His statue sits along a greenway on the Colorado River — not the same Colorado that carved the Grand Canyon — about a quarter mile from the city’s famous Congress Avenue Bridge.
5. Buddy Holly
It seems hard to believe that Buddy Holly was only 22 years old when he died in the infamous 1959 plane crash in Iowa that also claimed the life of fellow musicians Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (aka “The Big Bopper.”) Despite his brief career, the young guitar player and vocalist influenced some of the seminal musicians in rock history, including the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. Holly’s hometown of Lubbock, Texas, erected a life-size bronze sculpture of the musician in the early 1980s, but it found a new home in 2011, moving to the Buddy and Maria Elena Holly Plaza, located near the Buddy Holly Center at the corner of Crickets Ave. and 19th St.
The Texas native enjoyed a meteoric rise in the pop music world before being shot to death by the president of her fan club a couple of weeks shy of her 24th birthday in 1995. She remains one of the most influential and best-selling Latin artists of all time. Today, the city of Corpus Christi, Texas has honored her with a museum, an auditorium bearing her name, and a life-size statue at the corner of North Shoreline Boulevard and Peoples Street.
3. Jimi Hendrix
The sculpture shown above was unveiled in 1997 on Broadway Avenue in the Capital Hill/Broadway area of Hendrix’ hometown of Seattle and is a popular tourist site. Another notable Hendrix sculpture is on the Isle of Wight, scene of one of the legendary guitar player’s greatest performances at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival. He died 18 days later at age 27.
2. Elvis Presley
Memphis, Tennessee, already has the ultimate shrine to Elvis Presley — his former home of Graceland — in Memphis, Tennessee, but this bronze sculpture on Memphis’ famous Beale Street is a real crowd pleaser … with no admission fee.
1. John Lennon
There are several statues of the late John Lennon around the world, but the most intriguing sits on a park bench in Havana, Cuba, where Lennon and the Beatles were revered. None other than Cuban leader Fidel Castro dedicated the Lennon sculpture in 2000. Lennon most recently was honored with the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Monument in Liverpool, England, on what would have been his 70th birthday in 2010.