First the column heading in the World Almanac states, "Years of Life Expected at Death." I took the trouble to go to the library to confirm that it did not say "Average Age at Death." There is a big difference. Life expectancy is just that, an expectation, or an estimate of future deaths. "Average Age at Death" is a simple average of past ages of death. The difference is what has happened in the past and what is expected to happen in the future.

Second, rock still has only been around about half a lifetime so many rock stars are still young. Because rock stars generally begin their rock careers at a young age not many have reached old ages yet. So most of those who have died can not help but have died young since the group in general is very young. How many rock stars on the list died of old age?

For example the average at death among people born in the year 1966 can not possible be more than 32 (in 1998) while the life expectancy at birth for people born in 1965 is 72.89* years for males and 80.39* years for females. Does this make 1966 an accursed year, perhaps because it contains three sixes (one of which is upside down)?

The important lesson to learn here is to not trust every statistic you hear. People tell mislead and tell lies through statistics all the time. The web page I referred to is just an illustrated example.

*: Life expectancies taken from 'Life Tables for the United States Social Security Area 1900-2080.' by the Office of the Actuary, Social Security Administration, SSA Pub. No. 11-11536.

Michael Shackleford, A.S.A.