1. Nirvana - "You Know You're Right"
We all remember where we were when we heard of Kurt Cobain's suicide. If you're of the right age and were into that sort of music anyway. It was a monumental moment for music in the 90's, love them or hate them Nirvana changed the way music looked and sounded. Period. "You Know You're Right" was recorded about 4 months before Cobain's death and went unreleased until 2002 for the Nirvana Greatest Hits Record. Courtney Love refused to let the song be released and it was only after Grohl and Noveselic bought out her rights to the songs that the major majority got to hear it.
2. Queen - "Too Much Love Will Kill You"
Queen recorded this very prophetic song in 1988 and decided to keep it off the album they were working on and shelf it. Freddie Mercury would later announce to the world on November 23 1991 that he was suffering from AIDS and a day later he was gone. During those next difficult years Queen's remaining members happily remembered Mercury through his music and found this gem left behind. Feeling the fans would enjoy it, they included it on 1995's Made In Heaven.
3. Tupac - "Changes"
To the casual fan this is probably Tupac Shakur's best known song. The truth is Shakur loved his art so much that he literally left behind countless hours of unreleased music after his death in 1996. There's a skit in the lost 3rd season of Chappelle's Show that pokes fun at this actually. Pretty funny stuff. Earlier this year Tupac was featured as a hologram and joined Snoop Dogg on stage at Coachella music festival. If any of the entrants on this list wound up faking their deaths and turn up alive...i'm betting on Tupac.
4. Elliott Smith - "Coast To Coast"
Smith's depression was no secret. Just listen to his albums and you're brought into a darkness that seems unbearable. Obviously his sadness wasn't perpetual, but you didn't put on an Elliott Smith record and dance around the room. On Oct 21, 2003 Smith stabbed himself in the chest twice and died later in the hospital. He left behind the haunting and poetic From A Basement On The Hill which was finished by friends and family and released in 2004.
5. Selena - "Dreaming Of You"
Oh Selena...I would call this a guilty pleasure but how can I? She was a true talent and the song is delightful, eclipsed only by the fact that she never saw the success it had. 2 Weeks before the song's release Selena was murdered by the woman who once ran her fan club. I firmly believe that the Latin Music revival we saw in the late 90's would have come much earlier if Selena hadn't...well any way.
6. Otis Redding - "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay"
A plane crash took Otis Redding when he was only 26. It still baffles me that a voice with so much soul, grit and passion came from a man who was just 26 years young. He recorded "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" just three days before his death. He would never know the amount of smiles this song brought or hearts it touched. The LP The Dock Of The Bay was universally praised by critics and went on to win two Grammys in 1968.
7. Joy Division - "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
This song to this day is still the British post-punk standard that all songs of the genre are compared to. Joy Division's singer Ian Curtis was known for his isolated lyrics about death, sadness and rejection. He married young and after the divorce he hanged himself in his parent's kitchen. He was only 23. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" hit it's peak on the UK charts after Curtis' death. The phrase "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is on his tombstone.
8. Lynyrd Skynyrd - "What's Your Name"
Perhaps one of the biggest tragedies to befell the Rock world was the plane crash that claimed the lives of three of Lynyrd Skynyrd's founding members. Ronnie Van Zant, Cassie Gaines and Steve Gaines all lost their lives when the small engine plane they were in crashed in South Carolina. The album Street Survivors had been released three days prior and had to have it's cover changed as it portrayed the band surrounded by flames. "What's Your Name" was the record's first single.
9. Jeff Buckley - "Forget Her"
Buckley's 1994 album Grace is such a masterpiece that even the songs that were cut from it are great. If you haven't heard Grace, I highly recommend it. It's one of the most important albums from the 90s. "Forget Her" was finally included on the 2004 re-release of the album. Released seven years after Jeff Buckley's accidental drowning in 1997.
10. Bran Van 3000 - "Astounded"- feat. Curtis Mayfield
Not to worry BV3000 fans. To my knowledge all of the members of the Canadian techno group are alive and well. Sadly, one of soul's most recognizable voices is not. Curtis Mayfield contributed the vocals to this song in 1999 and it was the last piece of music he laid down before his death later that year. Mayfield's resolve is the stuff of legend. His contributions to the Motown movement and funk music are countless and even after he was paralyzed in 1990 after a part of the stage rigging fell upon him, he was a beacon of inspiration. "Astounded" would later be released in 2001.
Thanks as always!