The tragic deaths of musicians and artists in the 27 club often makes them even more famous than when they were alive. Members of this club all have one thing in common - a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
This growing list dubbed a 'club' by popular culture, includes some of the most important icons that have died fateful deaths in recent decades. Here we reveal what the 27 club is, its history, and a list of its famous members.
The 27 club is the name given to the group of artists, musicians, athletes, and actors who all lost their lives at 27 years old. Drug and alcohol abuse, murders, suicides, or even catastrophic accidents occassioned most of these deaths.
Between 1969 and 1971, the deaths of musicians of that shared this age lead people to believe that 27 was cursed for rock stars living life in the fast lane. Even so, statistically speaking, apart from age and fame, no unusual pattern has been discovered that would link these deaths.
Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin all died tragically in the late 60s and early 70s. However, the most surprising part of all this is that they all died at the age of 27. Some comments were made at this point, but the real commotion started in 1994 with Kurt Cobain's death. This is when the idea of the '27 club' emerged and started gaining taking hold in popular culture.
In 2011, twenty-seven years after Kurt Cobain's death, the renowned singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, also perished at 27 from alcohol poisoning. This unfortunate event drew a new wave of attention from the media. Also, just three years prior, Amy Winehouse publicly expressed her fear of dying when she turned 27. However, you don't have to be a musician to join this club. Some articles list actors like Jonathan Brandis or the well-known painter Jean-Michel Basquiat as members of the 27 club.
As we mentioned before, big names from almost all artistic disciplines that died at 27 form a part of this group, although its main members are musicians. Right now there are more than 70 artists, musicians, actors, and world-famous athletes that fit these criteria. However, here are the most popular members:
In 1962, the Brit Brian Jones became a founding member of the Rolling Stones. Jones is probably the least famous person mentioned on this list, but he was indeed the first to die at the age of 27. His untimely death in 1969 may have caused his lack of fame since this kept him from experiencing the band's 40-year streak of success.
In the Rolling Stones' beginnings, Jones lead the group. However, he was also caught up the most in controversies ranging from his love life to drug addictions. Jones' cause of death was drowning in his mansion's pool, which was brought on by a drug and alcohol overdose. Released in 2005, the film "Stoned" recounts the life of this controversial vocalist.
Born in Seattle in 1942, Hendrix began his music career at just twenty years of age and became arguably one of the biggest rock stars of his time. Besides being one of the most famous musicians of the 20th Century, this artist also gained fame because of his premature death. Rolling Stone magazine put Hendrix at the top of their list of the best guitarists of all time. With his death shortly after Brian Jones', the idea of the 27 club curse began.
Fame at such a young age led this artist to consume alcohol and soft drugs frequently. These gateway substances led Hendrix to get involved in harder drugs. Jimi's friends confirmed that he consumed cannabis, large quantities of alcohol, LSD, and cocaine habitually.
Hendrix was found unconscious and intoxicated on September 18, 1970. He was declared dead at a London hospital an hour after he was discovered. Jimi Hendrix's cause of death was determined to be a barbiturate overdose according to the autopsy.
Joplin, another sixties counterculture music icon, is yet another addition to our list of celebrities who died at 27. She became one of the most famous rock stars of her time during her short but intense musical career.
Janis identified herself as a part of the women's liberation movement, and she was the first woman to become an internationally renowned rock star. Her radical stance made her controversial in the eyes of US politicians. On October 4, 1970, Janis Joplin was found deceased. Her cause of death was a heroin overdose likely combined with the effects of binge drinking.
Jim Morrison, the lead vocalist, and songwriter of The Doors is known for his captivating, almost poetic lyrics. From a young age, he was passionate about literature, and outside of his music, he also wrote books of poetry.
Throughout his time in the spotlight, Morrison was involved in a number of controversies since some of his acts were considered obscene or inappropriate for the period. In 1971, Morrison was the fourth musician to join the 27 club after Jones, Hendrix, and Joplin, which caused a lot of noise.
The last years of Kurt Cobain's life, the lead vocalist of Nirvana, was marked by spiraling depression and drug addiction. Cobain's suicide sets him apart from the rest of the 27 club members who died accidentally.
On April 5, 1994, Cobain was discovered dead with a bullet in his head at his Seattle mansion. This tragic event led people to think back to all of the other musicians that died tragically at 27, years prior. Cobain's death led Nirvana to break up, a band that marked the spirit of an entire generation. The media investigated his death for years, and several conspiracy theories exist surrounding this incident.
Amy Winehouse’s appearance on the music scene in 2003 was a breath of fresh air and brought many unknown genres to the forefront, like jazz, R&B, and soul. Her powerful voice, unique tone, her ability to express emotions through music, and heart-wrenching lyrics, quickly made her one of the most famous vocalists of her time.
Winehouse's one of a kind personality, destructive behavior, and emotional instability were recurring. It is worth noting that her drug consumption grew progressively - as she became more and more popular herself. Amy was the most recent artist to join the 27 club in 2011. Her cause of death was alcohol poisoning, making her yet another star to burn out far too young.
Weiss, D. (2011) Amy Winehouse & The 27 Club. Life Goes Strong. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
Wolkewitz, M.; Allignol, A.; Graves, N.; Barnett, A.; (December 20, 2011). CHRISTMAS 2011: DEATH'S DOMINION Is 27 really a dangerous age for famous musicians? A retrospective cohort study. The BMJ. 343: d7799.