1. Jerry Garcia. It was fitting that the man who specialized in 15-minute guitar solos would die in his sleep.
2. Selena. The assassination of Tejano's once and future queen transformed Selena into a momentary superstar and the eternal martyr. She was number one with a bullet, quite literally: In death, she did what she might never have done in life--cross over. Little matter that Dreaming of You was loaded with lightweight, middle-brow fluff--Selena was going to be big by becoming Mariah Carey--some of it was quite brilliant ("God's Child," a haunting duet with David Byrne), and some of it was just plain remarkable no matter the circumstances.
3. Eazy-E. Screw the moment of silence, let's have a blast of machine-gun fire for the ho-hoppin' gangsta who probably ended up killing more people in real life than he did in his rhymes.
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4. Shannon Hoon. Heroin silenced the mighty horn of bebop pioneer Charlie Parker. What did you think it was going to do to a guy whose career was overshadowed by a chubby 12-year-old girl in a bee costume?
5. The Courtney mystique. If Hole's Live Through This had been released in 1995, following a solid year of blabbermouthing and Lollapalooza antics, it wouldn't make hardly any Top 10 lists, let alone be the consensus Album of the Year according to critics. The Vanity Fair cover girl has talent--for what, she hasn't yet decided.
6. Bob Stinson of the Replacements and Sterling Morrison of the Velvet Underground. They were forever lurking in the background, playing second guitar to Paul Westerberg and Lou Reed. But these two--one man who provided the chaos, another who kept it in check--defined their bands from the inside. Stinson, who kicked his drug habit the hard way after years of self-abuse, brought to the Replacements a sloppy and delirious charm; without him, the band lost its humor, its spirit, its reason to exist. As for Morrison, his delicately crafted guitar sound gave the VU a firm center when it sometimes sounded as though the whole fragile frame would collapse in feedback and fury.
--Michael Corcoran and Robert Wilonsky