The 27 Club has become one of rock & roll’s most mysterious and tragic coincidences. After Kurt Cobain died in 1994, rock fans began to associate his age with that of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, and Jimi Hendrix – though it was notable to fans in the early 1970s when those four visionaries died just two years apart. The death of Amy Winehouse at the age of 27 in 2011 brought even more attention to the significance of the age. While the club has traditionally been associated with musicians, it has grown in recent years as many young actors and artists have died as a result of everything from drug addiction to suicide to bizarre accidents.
The following are some of the sad and untimely losses of The 27 club.
The Most Remarkable Members of The 27 Club
- Kurt Cobain
On Friday, April 8th, 1994, an electrician discovered Kurt Cobain’s body. The authors of Who Killed Kurt Cobain? have a simple solution to their question: Kurt Cobain killed himself. He did it with self-inflicted harm and left written evidence of his mental state. “Suicidal people tend to want to make a statement,” Nial Stimson, Kurt’s substance abuse counselor, recalled how worried the singer was about losing his home in a lawsuit. “I just kind of felt he killed himself in his house [as if to say], “You’re not going to take my house, no matter what. . .’”
- Amy Winehouse
It’s hard to tell Amy’s state of mind when she drank her last gulps of vodka at home in London in July 2011. She had stated that she still had things she wanted to do with her life, but she seemed unable to do so. She had always been protective about her inner life while being a remarkably honest and open person in many aspects. We got the impression from our views of Amy that she was sick of her career. She had become a prisoner of her image, like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. And, as with Janis Joplin, her spouse, was noticeably absent at the end. Other people Amy had relied on were also absent, in many cases.
- Jimi Hendrix
Jimi took sleeping pills in the early hours of Friday, September 18th, 1970, while staying with a girlfriend in London. Nobody knows how many pills he took or whether he was aware of what he was doing. Vesparax, a powerful barbiturate, was the drug. Half a tablet was enough to put a man to sleep for eight hours; Jimi may have taken up to nine which led him to be a part of The 27 club. He’d been drinking as well. This was risky and reckless, but it was in character. Jimi had developed a habit of using drugs indiscriminately over his years on the road. “Jimi would take a handful of shit not even knowing what it was,” said Deering Howe, a friend of his.
- Jim Morrison
After Francis Ford Coppola used “The End” in the music for Apocalypse Now, Jim Morrison’s cult grew posthumously. Jim’s cult was fueled by the fact that he died at the same age as Brian, Jimi, and Janis. The 27 club link reinforced the idea that Jim was special, that his death was predestined, and that something weird was going on. The coincidence was made further weirder by the fact that Jim’s girlfriend died at the same age. This legend was familiar to everybody with an interest in popular music by 1994 when Kurt Cobain decided to join the club.
- Brian Jones
Jones died in 1969 at his country home in England as a result of his foolish behavior. To combine alcohol and drugs and then dive into a pool was to swim straight into death’s arms. As obvious as this may appear, Brian Jones’ death has become one of rock & roll’s most enduring mysteries, with many people disputing the official account of events. “And the mystery of his death hasn’t been solved,” Keith Richards has said. “I don’t know what happened, but there was some nasty business going on.”