Is There A Kalamazoo Music Curse?
A story posted here last week about the death of singers Bobby Hatfield and famed tenor Richard Tucker prompted a note from reader dmbauer, who wrote:
"I am a long-time rocker from Battle Creek and saw your article about the two singers that died in Kazoo. I have always thought Kalamazoo had a rock curse Harry Chapin played Wings Stadium. Three months later dies in (a) car crash. I believe Elvis’s next to last show was Kazoo as was Stevie Ray Vaughan’s. Wings Stadium announced Lynard Skynard coming to town and a couple of weeks later plane crashes. Just my two cents."
The most recent is Stevie Ray Vaughan whose death also the closest to a performance in Kalamazoo. Vaughan and his band Double Trouble played the Kalamazoo County Fair (yes, it was that long ago, and here's some bootlegged audio) on Friday night, August 24th, 1990. Two nights at Alpine Valley (East Troy, Wisconsin) followed that. After an all-star jam with Eric Clapton, Vaughan got on a helicopter to take him to an airport in Chicago but the helicopter crashed into a ski hill as it was leaving the venue early Monday morning, August 27th.
(Stevie Ray Vaughan via YouTube)
Elvis Presley did two shows in Kalamazoo in the last year of his life. He performed at Wings Stadium in November of 1976, and on April 26, 1977. This is some bootlegged audio from that show, and if you read the comments, the Kalamazoo Gazette review mentioned "Elvis the Portly"; and that added heft could have contributed to his death. The King of Rock and Roll died less than four months later, on August 16th, 1977.
Harry Chapin being a part of this possible curse is a stretch at best. He performed at Wings Stadium on February 20th, 1977 and died over four years (not three months) later, on July 16th, 1981, in a car crash in New York.
Another band that some think might belongs in this story is Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band was scheduled to play at Wings in November of 1977, but a fatal plane crash in October of that year changed everything. Information on exact dates and other details is anecdotal, but being on the tour schedule doesn't necessarily qualify them for the curse, or does it?
Like the "celebrities die in threes" curse, you may put some stock in this, or maybe it's a coincidence. After all, everybody dies somewhere; you just hope the weather is good so people show up for the funeral. But the opposite argument is the Stones, and specifically, Keith Richards. who has played a Gibson guitar (among several brands) and has been to 225 Parsons Street, and yet he and they are still among us.