By Noah Hubbell
By Leslie Simon
By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
By Josiah M. Hesse
The laws of probability and rock tradition dictate that 2006, like every year before it, will not end without a notable musical death or two. Eventually, all of our rock heroes end up in the Afterlife All-Star Band.
Those who went to the after-party in 2005 -- including Luther Vandross, Link Wray, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and R.L. Burnside -- were mostly aged, disease-stricken or both, so rock eulogists had only to pull their obituaries from a file and fill in the dates. This year, I predict the Grim Reaper will harvest some younger souls along with the oldsters who are running out of chances.
Toby Keith: No longer satisfied by writing fist-pumping war anthems, the country jingoist will enlist in the Army so he can personally put a boot up the ass of…well, someone. He'll promptly be killed by an Iraqi who recognizes the singer's voice from the song played during his terrifying interrogation: "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue."
Michael Jackson: Every day brings more pathetic news about the fallen King of Pop. Now he's reportedly bankrupt and hiding in Bahrain, gulping painkillers and tranquilizers by the handful. There's a damned good chance he'll go to the real Neverland this year.
Courtney Love: The violence-prone Nirvana widow was released early from her umpteenth drug-rehab program last month and is back on the streets again. The long-awaited Kurt and Courtney reunion tour could be scheduled for 2006.
David Crosby: After his 2004 arrest for weapons and pot, I can't help but wonder how long his eleven-year-old replacement liver will hold out.
B.B. King: The string-bending blues ambassador is eighty and diabetic, a combination of age and ailment that bodes ill for the Beale Street Blues Boy King.
Eminem:Fresh out of rehab for addiction to sleep medication, the rapper announced on a Detroit radio station his recent reconciliation with ex-wife Kim Mathers. Remarrying the woman who inspired his most heartfelt murder-fantasy songs might be the worst possible way to begin the long road to sobriety.
James Brown: The 72-year-old funk-and-soul pioneer has been treated for prostate cancer after fifty years of hard living and even harder working. How much longer before he gives it up and turns it loose?
R. Kelly: After 2005's "Sex Weed," the accused Teen Beat fan and urophiliac will realize that he's completely exhausted his supply of double entendres and reach for his Beretta one last time, thus sparing the world from Trapped in the Closet, parts 13-24.