What is it about celebrities that allows them to make such an impact on our lives? Despite generally never having met him, the world collectively mourned Prince after his recent death. It makes no sense, yet the grief is still real. As one Twitter user so eloquently summed it up: "We don't cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves."
Art is a way to work through, understand, and share the human experience and the often wacky world we all live in together. As such, artists can have a huge impact on our minds and souls. Their works speak to us and connect us with others who feel the same. Check out the last photos of these 20 celebrities that left this Earth all too early.
Prince's death this April shocked the world; the photo on the right was taken just a few days before that.
2. Freddie Mercury
The incredibly talented singer-songwriter was just 45 when he passed away due to pneumonia, a complication of AIDS.
3. Christopher George Latore Wallace, AKA The Notorious B.I.G
This picture was taken the same night that Biggie was killed in a drive-by shooting at just 24 years of age. His murder remains unsolved.
4. David Bowie
When Bowie lost his fight with cancer earlier this year, the world was taken by surprise. Although he battled liver cancer for 18 months, he had not made his illness public. His death came just two days after the release of Blackstar, his twenty-fifth album.
5. Kurt Cobain
This photo is one of the images that was released by the Seattle Police Department as part of the inquiry into Cobain's death. The police ruled it a suicide, although many have doubted that assertion, even twenty-plus years later.
6. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Hoffman's death is another that seemingly no one saw coming. After many years of sobriety, he relapsed shortly before his death, due to a drug overdose. This photo was taken shortly before he was found in his apartment.
7. Heath Ledger
Just as everyone was feverishly awaiting Ledger's turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight, the news of his death broke. This photo was taken on the set of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Ledger's last movie, which was still in production at the time of his death. There was much speculation about the cause of death, but the overdose of prescription medication has since been deemed accidental.
8. Abraham Lincoln
The former President sat for this portrait shortly before he was infamously assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre. Although Booth fled, he was found and fatally shot 12 days later.
9. Elvis Presley
This photo shows the King driving home the night he died. The rock and roll icon was found unresponsive at his home at the age of 42. His funeral procession was incredible, with about 80,000 lining up to watch. However, some conspiracy theorists hold on to the hope that his death was faked, a diversion to allow him to retire in peace. So, the question remains: has Elvis really left the building?
10. Marilyn Monroe
Few people are more easily recognized than Marilyn Monroe. The actress and model is one of the biggest pop culture icons of all time. Sadly, she suffered from frequent depression and had overdosed several times before her unexpected death due to barbiturate poisoning, which was mostly likely intentional. This photo was taken by LIFE Magazine photographer Allan Grant, and is the last known picture of the beauty.
11. Princess Diana
Princess Diana's death was mourned by millions of people around the world. This was the last picture taken of her before her death, although she can barely be seen in the backseat. The paparazzi's unrelenting pursuit of the Princess was believed to have caused the car crash that resulted in her death.
12. Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix, photographed here with his favorite guitar, "Black Betty," just a few days before his death, has been called "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music." Much of how the pioneering musician spent his final days is still unknown, but the legacy he left on the world is clear.
13. Tupac Shakur, AKA 2Pac
In this photo, 2Pac sits in the car with Suge Knight. Later the same night, he was the victim of a drive-by shooting. He made it to the hospital and was placed in a medically-induced coma before dying several days later. The legendary West Coast rapper, activist, and poet is widely considered one of the most influential rappers of all time.
14. Amy Winehouse
During her short life, Winehouse became famous for her stunning voice, blue-eyed soul music ... and tumultuous personal life. Her substance abuse was no secret, and the singer also spoke openly about her experience living with mental health issues. This is one of the last pictures of the singer before her death due to alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27. Strangely, Winehouse had expressed a fear of dying at 27 previously, fueled by the superstitious belief in the "27 Club," a term that describes the prevalence of popular musicians who died at the age of 27. Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison are a few of the most famous people to "join the club."
15. John Lennon
Photographer Paul Goresh took the last known photos of John Lennon as he was leaving The Dakota, Lennon's apartment building, hours before his death. Eerily, this photo features Lennon signing an autograph for Mark Chapman (in the background), who would murder Lennon not much later. When Goresh later heard that Chapman had shot Lennon, he said, "I immediately realized who it was. You can't imagine the disgust and anger I felt."
16. Steve Irwin
"The Crocodile Hunter" was tragically killed by a stingray while filming for a documentary series. This photo of Irwin with marine biologist Christ Jones was taken shortly before he went into the ocean to snorkel.
17. Robin Williams
The man who made us all laugh for decades left us heartbroken after his death in 2014. Although it was not known at the time, Williams had been diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson's disease and Lewy body disease, a type of dementia associated with Parkinson's. His suicide was initially attributed to his depression, but his doctors and widow later revealed that the rapidly progressive dementia "was the critical factor," explaining that "if Robin was lucky, he would've had maybe three years left." This is the last known photo of the actor, taken at a party the day before his passing.
18. Jim Morrison
In this photo, the poet, singer-songwriter, and rock icon Jim Morrison can be seen enjoying one of Paris's many cafe patios with his girlfriend Pamela Courson just five days before his still-mysterious death. No autopsy was performed and, although the official cause of death has been listed as heart failure, many still have questions about Morrison's death. He was quickly buried at the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, where his grave is one of the city's most visited sites.
19. The Challenger Crew
Everyone watched in horror as the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart just 73 seconds into its flight; an estimated 17% of Americans watched the destruction of the shuttle live. Tragically, all seven members of the crew were killed, including Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher in space. Here, the crew can be seen making their way to the launch pad.
20. Whitney Houston
Houston was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, but that didn't exempt her from dealing with extensive personal troubles. Her troubles with drug addiction were well known, although that didn't make her sudden death any less shocking. The singer can be seen here getting into a car shortly before her death.
Be sure to SHARE these celebrity photos with your friends and family!