artists / composers 'on fire'
i read some comments from david bowie where he sounded amazed he lived through the 70s. but then i think his output in the 70s was his best, and that of a man on creative fire..just listen to his live output (nassau 76, santa monica 72) and he's clearly in flames on stage, and his studio work (station to station, ziggy, heroes) is further proof. and i think of other artists who hit this sort of peak, but my list is short:
dylan (pre motorcycle crash)
neil young (until late 70s)
david byrne (Talking Heads, through mid-80s)
sting (police thru blue turtles)
and maybe joni mitchell (though i'm not sure she cuts it)
(notably or not, believe all of the above were total coke addicts when they were on fire, fwiw).
note: i'm not talking talent (hendrix had talent, as did garcia, lennon/mccartney, sinatra, others), or people who enjoy the creative process (zappa, marley, waits), or mere pretenders who gave up the arts for drugs too soon (syd barrett). i'm talking talent that's frightening as it consumes the person and comes close to destroying them (as their fellow performers / friends note in personal comments that go public ex-post). non-stop performing / writing / touring which comes to define them...all consuming, and burning them out from the inside. but golly, what output!
(and bonus points for dying young during this period; its better to burn out than fade away...)