Often, the passion required to produce great art--great music--comes at the cost of a hard life. This, arguably, is one reason so many great musicians have met their demise at a young age. We've all wondered, at one point or another, what could have been, or what would be different, if Kurt Cobain or, say, John Lennon were still alive. We'd have a musical landscape completely alien to what we have now, and one that would be impossible to imagine. But thanks to the efforts of Sachs Media and their talents in CGI, we can at least imagine how some of them would look today if they were still around.
People Used CGI Technology to Show Us What Rock Stars Would Look Like TodayPublished 11 months ago
Here, below, is perhaps one of the last photos taken of the King of Rock before he died at the relatively young age of 42. Elvis Aaron Presley was born on the 8th of January, 1985, which would make him 83-years-old this 2019.
Few would question that during his younger days, Elvis was a handsome man. Even less would question whether his looks had spiralled downward later on in life. Many argue that it was the deadly combination of drugs and an unwavering commitment to keep performing despite his worsening health that did him in.
On the left is the King of Rock in his prime, and on the right is how he'd look if he were still alive today. The resemblance, of course, is uncanny. The CGI experts at Sachs Media studied how Elvis had aged over the years to come up with a good estimate of how he would look in his 80s.
As one can notice, he has aged and wrinkled in all the right places, making this a wonderful approximation of how the King would look if he were around in 2019. Grandpa Elvis also has a full head of hair, as is reasonable to expect, since the King's hairline receded not an atom over the years.
The photo of John Lennon below was taken a short distance (less than two miles) from the place he was to eventually be shot and killed. This was taken in 1980, when John was 40, which will make him 82 today if he was still alive.
It's long been speculated that references to illicit drugs can be heard from Lennon's music, and many close to the singer have confirmed that he had an addiction disorder. But Lennon certainly looked like he was in the pink of health prior to being murdered by March Chapman on December of 1980. One can reasonably opine that had Lennon survived that ordeal, he would be looking good even today.
Lennon's eyes almost perfectly reflect all the wisdom he would have been able to gather as a 79-year-old. During his time, he was, for a lot of people, a modern day philosopher, after all. What's interesting is that this is also perhaps the only photo of Lennon without glasses after 1967.
This new--but old--Lennon looks to be way past his days of revolutionary protest, and seems to have eschewed the trippy kind of fashion the 70s was known for. He now looks more like a school professor than a rock star. In any case, the CGI artists have been kind to him by giving him a mane that at 79 shows little signs of aging.
Janis Joplin produced only two albums, before dying of a drug overdose on October 4, 1970, and yet, through her bluesy and raspy voice, was able to musically influence generations even to this day. The photo below was taken a few months before she passed away.
Janis Joplin, like Jimi Hendrix, died at the considerably young age of 27. Also, like Hendrix, Joplin was rarely sober, and was not infrequently under the influence of drugs and alcohol--most of the time, even by both. She would have been 76 years old this year, if she were alive.
She was one of the most successful female rock stars of her time, and was even arguably the first female in history to hit rock star status. The CGI photo of her on the right has her wearing the same 70s-style beaded necklace she was known to wear at her performances.
She looks happy in this CGI rendition, smiling as though all those years of partying are but a vague memory. In life, though, Joplin admits that she was lonely, saying one time: "onstage, I make love to 25,000 people - then I go home alone."
Sobriety was such a rarefied occasion for Jim Morrison that his life has become one of the biggest perpetrators of the stereotype that great music can scarcely be conceived by a sober mind. He was born on December 8, 1943, and would thusly be 79 today, if he were still alive.
The photo above was taken slightly before all the drugs Jim consumed would start to take its toll on his physical appearance. He would, later on in life, gain a lot of weight and sport a beard that would conceal the youthful appearance he was known to have.
Known as the lead singer of the Doors, Jim Morrison, like Hendrix and Joplin, would eventually die at the ripe young age of 27. This CGI rendering of what Morrison would’ve looked like if he was still alive today has him looking infinitely more mature, in age and in mind, compared to the wild young man whose performances enthralled a generation.
Jim, here, is depicted as a smiling 76-year-old. In reality, though, Jim was said to have rarely smiled, and would have probably been caught smiling more often than he would have been caught sober. The CGI artists retained his beard, which might be something many would rather they did without, considering the more famous photos of Morrison show him without one.
The photo is of Kurt Cobain performing for MTV Unplugged and was when his band, Nirvana, was at the pinnacle of creative and commercial success. Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, which would make him 52 today, and our youngest rock star on this list.
He was definitely one of the most influential musicians of his generation, and was a pioneer of the "grunge" movement, a rock genre and subculture that came out of the Seattle area during the mid-80s. Like many on this list, Cobain died when he was 27, but unlike them, it was because of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Cobain had eyes as blue as the sky that many say can be seen to reflect all the pain he was carrying inside, if one looked closely enough. The man was a tortured soul. One doesn't see this in the CGI rendering on the right, but, nevertheless, it does uncannily resemble the blue-eyed, blonde-haird, gravelly-voiced rock star that enraptured a generation.
Some people don't give Cobain much credit for his guitar skills, as most of his songs make use of only 3 to 4 chords. But whatever the case may be, he put his heart into his music, infusing it with the raw energy and youthful abandon that young people found captivating at the time, so much so that Rolling Stone's magazine included him in its list of “Top 100 guitarists of all time.”
Born on February 6, 1945, Bob Marley would be 77 if he were alive today. And he probably would still be alive today had he heeded the medical advice he was given about his cancer prior to its spreading to the rest of his body.
The photo above was of one of his last shows, where Marley and the Wailers brought down the house in Madison Square Garden. It will only be a few days later when Marley would collapse in Central Park.
Marley loved football, and would often play it with his friends. In fact he played it often that if he were alive today, he should be in relatively good health. Unfortunately, it is also arguably his love for football that did him in; as his cancer stems from an old toe injury that he attributes to playing the game.
Marley's passing was a sad day for humanity, as he was a champion of spreading love and human equality. The difference between young and old marley above are the wrinkles--else, they look eerily the same, with the Marley-esque dread locks and goatee.
Dennis Wilson, of Beach Boys fame (he was one of the band's founders), was born on December 4, 1944. If he was alive today, he would be 78--and, like many on this list, would still be young enough to rock.
The Beach Boys were always assumed to be surfer dudes on the basis of their songs that don't infrequently reference the surfing spirit of the 1960s. What many don't know, however, is that none of them, aside from Dennis Wilson, actually surfed. The photo above captures Wilson in one of his more battered states. He struggled like hell with substance abuse that he was often too smashed to play and would often miss tours. The band eventually had enough and gave him the boot.
Dennis Wilson was always known to be an attractive man--i.e., before all the partying began to take a physical effect. If we were to assume that he didn't drown on that fateful night of 1983, and we were to further assume that he would have been able to clean himself up of his substance abuse issues, then there would be no reason to assume he wouldn't look like the CGI rendering of himself on the right.
And he looks just like what one reasonably assumes old men who've spent their youth at the beach would look like. Happily, the CGI artists rendered him without the beard, just like he was during his more glorious days as a Beach Boy. Another bit of not completely unrelated trivia about Wilson is that he had a short and bizarre friendship with Charles Manson, who is history's most infamous cult leader.
Keith Moon, member of The Who, and who is no doubt rightly considered as one of the best drummers in history, was born on August 23 of 1946, making him 76 today, if he were alive. The photo below, taken of Moon less than a year before he died, shows him in good health.
The Who, a British rock group, was perhaps one of the most influential and commercially successful bands of the mid-60s. They've sold out concerts, music festivals and over a hundred million worth of albums.
Many would find it ironic that Moon died from overdosing on a drug that was supposed to combat the effects of alcoholism. He was, after all, a severe alcoholic, and the drug he took to combat the substance's effects were 32 times the prescribed dosage. Moon was subsequently found dead the next morning.
Moon's CGI rendering on the right looks to be very well done. He has the distinctive nose that Moon was known for. The CGI artists also rendered him sporting the same hairstyle that he has in the picture on the left. His eyes, however, betray a life of sorrow, sloping downward as they do--maybe because of all those years of guilt over accidentally killing Neil Boland, who was his driver and bodyguard.
Jimi Hendrix, the guitarist who had the wickedest solo the world has ever seen, died at the young age of 27. Hendrix was born on November of 1942, which would make him 80-years-old --young enough to still be rocking.
It's unfortunate that Hendrix didn't live long enough in the spotlight for one to be able to reasonably guess what the trajectory of his aging will be. What's certain, however, was that he was rarely sober, as he consumed barbiturates and alcohol like a child consumes candy.
Jimi Hendrix is widely considered to be one of the most influential musicians in history, so if he were alive today, he would have had more years of churning out great music that would have influenced even more people. In any case, this CGI rendering of him did a good job matching his nose and lips--it even, nicely by my account, assumes Hendrix would've sported the same goatee after all these years.
Hendrix's hair doesn't seem to have receded all that much, but he now seems to have a much thinner afro than what he's known for--he definitely looks great for a man in his 70s. No doubt he'd still be rocking if he were alive today--I mean, if the Rolling Stones can still do it, then Jimi, if he were alive, would be able to, too.
There seems to be a lot of drummers on this list - Karen Carpenter, pictured below, is the third on this list. She was half of the vocals as well as the drummer for the brother and sister duo the Carpenters. Unlike her fellow drummers on this list, however, Karen died from complications due to an eating disorder.
Carpenter would be photographed later on in life looking really thin and frail-looking, due to the eating disorder from which she was suffering. She was a very attractive woman and had a smile that arrested and went perfectly well with her distinctly soft musical style. Years of suffering from anorexia, however, put so much stress on her heart, that at a young age of 32, it conked out.
She was born in the 2nd of March, 1950, and would be 68 today. If she were still alive, it's possible she'd still be rocking the stage--her brother who forms half of the band The Carpenters is still alive, after all, and still has his foot in the music industry in one way or another.
This CGI rendering of Karen Carpenter beautifully captures the smile that was her main legacy. She interestingly looks healthier as a 68-year-old compared to how she looked during her later years, when the effects of anorexia started taking its toll. While her death was undoubtedly tragic, it had one positive consequence, which is that it brought more public awareness to eating disorders.
Bobby Darin, the guy who was known to be adept at playing a multitude of different instruments, and whose performances spanned many genres--from jazz to pop, to rock and country music--was born on the 14th of May, 1936. He would be 86 today, if he were still alive.
Darin was said to have had health complications his entire life. In fact, after having contracted rheumatic fever as a young kid, he ominously surmised that he was cursed with but a short time in this world, so much so that the expectation of a short life motivated him to rise as fast as he could in the music industry. He died on December 20, 1973.
A visit to the dentist usually evokes more fear in us than is warranted. But in Bobby Darin's case, any fear he might have had would have been justified, as his visit to the dentist turned out to be a fatal mistake. Darin already had heart complications during his fateful visit to the dentist. He developed sepsis after failing to take antibiotics to protect his heart during the procedure. He had surgery to repair his heart, but, unfortunately, it wasn't successful.
Darin was a heartthrob during his time. He had that boyish smile and that classic, 50s-style good looks. The CGI artists who made this rendering of Darin on the right have successfully transferred Darin's youthful grin to an 82-year-old version of himself. Also, he still has that 1950s dapper look he was known to have. Despite that his hairline receded and is now all wrinkled up, the twinkle in his eyes remain, signifying a life well-lived.
Cass Elliot, who was also affectionately referred to as 'Mama Cass,' was a member--and lead singer--of the non-comformist pop group The Mamas and the Papas. She was a large woman--weighing north of 200 pounds--and had a matching powerful voice that distinguished her from other musicians of the time.
Born on September 19, 1941, "Mama Cass" Elliot would be 81 now if she were still alive. She would live a long life of substance abuse. Although she would eventually recover, she was still left severely overweight, and would eventually die of heart failure.
An old myth had been perpetuated that Elliot died from choking on a ham sandwich. The prosaic truth of the matter, however, is that she died of a heart attack in her sleep.
The CGI rendering of Cass Elliot looks odd in that it seems she wasn't given a chin. But the CGI artists assumed that if she were still living, it's likely she'd still be overweight.
Randy Rhoads didn’t quite make it to the ranks of the 27 clubs, passing away at the tender age of 25 years old. Even with his limited time on this earth, the famed guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne still went down in history as one of the most prominent musicians with a six-string.
Rhoads had a difficult relationship with the rock & roll legend and bandleader himself, Ozzy Osbourne. Before his untimely death on March 19, 1982, Rhoads had already made the decision to leave the band and get his degree in music (with a focus on classical guitar) from UCLA. Rhoads actively took lessons from classical guitarists while on tour.
While on tour in Florida, Ozzy Osbourne’s bus stopped temporarily to fix a problem with the air conditioning. Just the night before Osbourne had said to Rhoads (about the guitarist's drinking habits), “You’ll kill yourself, you know? One of these days.”
While Osbourne was sleeping on the tour bus, their driver snuck onto a “borrowed” plane for a joy ride and, out of boredom, decided to try “buzzing” the bus to wake up Osbourne. With Rhoads on board the plane, the driver made two successful passes by the bus. On the third try, however, one wing of the plane clipped the bus, causing it to spiral out of control and crash into a mansion nearby. The plane burst into flames and killed everyone inside.
Like Rhoads, Tupac also missed the mark for the 27 club and left the world behind at just 25 years old. In those 25 years, however, Tupac accumulated an impressive resume that would put all of ours to shame. He released 11 albums that skyrocketed to platinum status and landed major roles in close to 10 films.
In his personal life, Tupac had a more convoluted history. For one thing, he was known to flash gang signs and call himself the THUG. He also was an outspoken advocate for violence and faced multiple sexual assault convictions. On the other hand, he also stood firmly behind civil rights and women’s rights movements.
Born on June 16, 1971, Tupac would have been 48 years old today if he were still alive. We’d like to envision him with his signature bandana over his head, perhaps with a thinner and more cut jawline. There’s no way for us to tell if Tupac would have aged gracefully (if graceful is even the right word to describe him).
Maybe somewhere down the line, he would have returned to his days of advocating for activism through peace and poetry. He also may have continued putting his energy into his militant take on civil rights, which could have aged his physical appearance and made him look much older.
A native of Lubbock, Texas, Buddy Holly was born on September 7, 1936. Passing away at the painfully young age of 22, Holly surpassed even Tupac and Randy Rhoads as one of the youngest musicians to die at an early age. Though he was young, Holly pulled his musical influences from classic groups such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton.
Rocking his signature horn-rimmed glasses, Holly is credited with developing the modern rock n’ roll band set up as we know it - two guitars, a drummer, and a bass player. Holly very well may have created big strides in the music industry if he, along with fellow music sensations Richie Valence and the Big Bopper, had not died in a tragic plane crash.
Holly got his start performing country, gospel, and blues music - until rock ‘n’ roll caught his interest. His big break came when he opened for Elvis Presley in 1955, and from there, he was all about pushing the boundaries with rock. Holly’s fresh-faced look makes it hard to imagine him at an older age, but this rendering adds in a receding hairline and stained teeth, due to his known smoking habit.
In 1959, Holly was in a major rush to catch the next leg of his Midwest tour. Despite being in the middle of a snowstorm, he decided to charter a plane anyways. This decision would take his life, along with the pilot and 2 other musicians on board, as the plane crashed just after takeoff on February 3, 1959.
You could say that Lynyrd Skynyrd was flying sky high in their fame - before their frontman literally fell from the sky. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant performed the group’s biggest hits, including “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “That Smell.” His bandmates also claimed he was clairvoyant in some ways.
Born on January 15, 1948, Van Zant was exactly 29 years old before he died. Strangely enough, he often told his bandmates and family that he wasn’t going to make it to 30. They begged him not to speak of himself in that way, but it seems that his self-fulfilling prophecy really did come true on October 20, 1977, while flying high above Mississippi.
The night before October 20, the plane that Lynyrd Skynyrd was about to board started to shoot ten-feet flames out of its engines. The problem was fixed in a hurry, and as it would soon become evident, the issue was not fixed at all. However, Van Zant insisted on flying anyways in order to make it to the next venue in time to perform.
Partially through the flight, the plane ran out of fuel and glided for several minutes before crashing straight into the Bayou of Gillsberg, Mississippi. Van Zant died on impact, along with five others on board the plane. There’s no doubt that, if he was alive today, 81-year-old Van Zant would still be rocking fans around the world with the signature sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
While he may not be the most technically skilled musician on this list nor the oldest, Sid Vicious certainly left his mark on the punk rock scene. The poster child of the late 70s was known for rocking messy hair, sloppily painted nails, and the words “Gimme a Fix” carved on his chest.
And maybe part of his sudden rise to fame was just having the right look - the bass guitarist for the Sex Pistols didn’t even know how to play guitar until right before he landed the gig. After two days of studying Ramone’s album night and day, he somehow mastered (in a loose sense of the word) the instrument that would land him in the spotlight.
Vicious had the looks, no doubt, but he’s more known for sporting a distorted grimace that could either be interpreted as a smile or a frown. Maybe some years down the line, his crooked expression would leave some noticeable lines on Vicious’ face.
This imagining of the “old Sid Vicious” also accounts for his battle with drugs. Vicious’ girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, introduced him to heroin - a choice that would cause both their lives to quickly spiral out of control. Spungen was found dead of an apparent stab wound in the New York hotel room she was sharing with Vicious. He was arrested and then released on bail on May 25, 1977. Following rehab and two months of staying clean, Vicious succumbed to the drug and overdosed at the young age of 21. He would be 62 years old today, if he were still alive.