When I heard last week that bassist Hugh Hopper had died, I did what I always do when I musician I admired passes away: I spent the day listening to his music.
Eventually I wound up listening to tracks from Soft Heap, the band Hopper formed with fellow Soft Machine alum Elton Dean, along with Alan Gowen and Pip Pyle from National Health (Hugh + Elton + Alan + Pip = HEAP). Gowen died in 1981, Dean and Pyle in 2006, and now Hopper — despite releasing only one record, the band was extinct.
Which got me to thinking: How many other bands have disappeared due to the death of all of the founding members? For the sake of argument, a band has at least three members and is no more than 50 years old. So far, I have only been able to come up with one answer: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, which disappeared with the death of Mitch Mitchell last November.
What about bands with only one surviving member? Two come immediately to mind: the Ramones (Tommy) and the Bar-Kays (James Alexander wasn’t on the plane that crashed and killed the rest of the band and Otis Redding). Up the number of survivors to two and you can add the Who and the Beatles to the list.
I’m sure I’m missing other answers. Let me know in the comments.