Membership Into Club 27 Is Forever

Amy Winehouse, the talented but exceedingly troubled British singer whose multiplatinum album Back to Black earned her five Grammy Awards, was found dead on July 24 2011 in her London apartment.The family said in a statement released August 23, 2011, Amy Winehouse had no illegal drugs in her system when she died, that toxicology tests showed “alcohol was present,” but it hasn’t yet been determined if it contributed to her death.

She was 27, the same age as Janis JoplinJim MorrisonJimi Hendrix,Brian JonesKurt Cobain and blues icon Robert Johnson when they permanently exited this world . Amy’s  death prompted  the US and International communities to check, once again what is known as rock music’s infamous “27 Club” An eerily growing group of entertainers that died or chose to die at age 27.

The 27 Club is a pop culture name for a group of significant rock, pop and blues musicians who have all died at the age of 27. Whilst it is always tragic when someone dies at such a young age, when it happens to a famous rock star in unusual or shady circumstances, it becomes part of the fabric of rock n roll folklore.

Is there something about age 27, maybe a breaking point for some, or is it just a coincidental exit point for troubled overwhelmed musicians?

Is the isolation that comes with being a superstar performer an overwhelming depressant within itself? Possibly the demands of a rigorous studio, promotion, tour environment closes in and 27 is the pinnacle of it all decided mostly by a tormented soul, for some and a culmination of self perpetuating destructive circumstances for others

There undoubtedly seems to be a pattern at hand and one common denominator present in one or the other: Whether the incredible amount of musical talent, a definite self-destructive flair and possible drug or alcohol addiction, or the conspiracy theories spun off from the deaths.

Some write the coincidences off as fate, some ponder the conspiracies. Although I personally don’t see broad-based conspiracy. Certain cases such as Jimi Hendrix’s girlfriend’s inconsistent details about the night of his death, or maybe the unsubstantiated allegations that Brian Jones was killed by a builder that was renovating his house. Then there is the one that feebly tries to hold Courtney Love responsible for the demise of Kurt Cobain. These are personal conspiracy theories are born of each one’s unique circumstances and thrive on the subjective nature of their supporters. Let’s look at some of the early members of the 27 Club

Brian Jones, Founder of The Rolling Stones died July 3rd 1969, drowned in his swimming pool at his East Sussex home. His main instruments were the guitar and the harmonica, but he played a variety of other instruments. His innovative use of traditional or folk instruments, such as the sitar and marimba, was integral to the changing sound of the band.He was originally the leader of the group, but Mick Jagger and Keith Richards soon overshadowed him, especially after they became a successful songwriting team. Jones developed a serious substance abuse problem over the years and his role in the band steadily diminished. He left the Rolling Stones in June 1969 to be replaced by guitarist Mick Taylor.

Jones died less than a month later in his own swimming pool. Recently Jones’ death has looked increasingly suspicious with a key witness and number of people who analyzed the case claiming a builder renovating his house murdered him. Eerily, two of the 27 Club paid tribute to Jones a matter of months before they died themselves. Jimi Hendrix dedicated a song to him on US television and Jim Morrison wrote a poem, “Ode to L.A. While Thinking Of Brian Jones, Deceased”.


Jimi Hendrix, Early on September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died in London. He had spent the latter part of the previous evening at a party and was picked up at close to 03:00 by girlfriend Monika Dannemann and driven to her flat at the Samarkand Hotel, 22 Lansdowne CrescentNotting Hill. From autopsy data and statements by friends about the evening of September 17, it has been estimated that he died sometime after 03:00, possibly before 04:00, but also possibly later, though no estimate was made at the autopsy, or inquest.Dannemann claimed in her original testimony that after they returned to her lodgings the evening before, Hendrix, unknown to her, had taken nine of her prescribed Vesparax sleeping pills. The normal medical dose was a half to one tablet as stated in the literature, but Hendrix was unfamiliar with this very strong Belgian brand. According to surgeon John Bannister, the doctor who initially attended to him, Hendrix had asphyxiated in his own regurgitation, mainly red wine that had filled his airways.

This statement, though, was written in January 1992, while Bannister was being investigated for malpractice and fraud (unconnected to Hendrix), to Shapiro a co-author who had published Electric Gypsy, a book in which Bannister had been accused of malpractice by Monika Dannemann in not performing a tracheotomy. He appears to have used the amount of wine in his system as a reason for not performing a tracheotomy. He was reprimanded for two counts of medical malpractice, and struck off the medical register on 28 April 1992 for fraud.

No one else at the time, the other two doctors, the ambulance men, or the police mentioned wine. The only mention of wine was by Monika much earlier, in Electric Gypsy (which Bannister had read), and that Hendrix had drunk some with food earlier that evening and also by Harvey at his, again, much earlier party, which were both several hours prior to death. The autopsy found very little alcohol in his system. The autopsy never mentioned wine, only vomited matter.

Janis Joplin, died October 4th 1970, of a heroin overdose. The only woman on the list, Joplin is known for her prodigious abuse of alcohol as well as her debilitating heroin addiction later in her short life.On Saturday, October 3, Joplin visited Sunset Sound Recorders in Los Angeles to listen to the instrumental track for Nick Gravenites‘ song “Buried Alive in the Blues” prior to recording the vocal track, scheduled for the next day.  At some point on Saturday, she learned by telephone that Seth Morgan was staying at her home and using her pool table with other women he had met that day. In the studio, she was heard expressing anger about this and about Morgan having broken a promise to visit her the previous night, although she also expressed joy about the progress of the sessions. She and band member Ken Pearson went from the studio to Barney’s Beaner for drinks. After midnight, Joplin drove him and a male fan who tagged along to the Landmark Motor Hotel.

When Joplin failed to show up at Sunset Sound Recorders for the next recording session by Sunday afternoon, producer Paul A. Rothchild became concerned. Full Tilt Boogie’s road manager, John Cooke, drove to the Landmark. He saw Joplin’s psychedelically painted Porsche 356C Cabriolet in the parking lot. Upon entering her room, he found her dead on the floor beside her bed. The official cause of death was an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol

Jim Morrison, lead singer and lyricist of the rock band The Doors died July 3rd 1971, of heart failure.  In the official account of his death, he was found in a Paris apartment bathtub by Courson. Pursuant to French law, no autopsy was performed because the medical examiner claimed to have found no evidence of foul play. The absence of an official autopsy has left many questions about Morrison’s cause of death.Morrison died on July 3rd: the same day that Brian Jones died.

Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of the grunge band Nirvana died April 5 1994, officially ruled as suicide by shotgun.On April 8, 1994, Cobain’s body was discovered at his Lake Washington home by an electrician who had arrived to install a security system. Apart from a minor amount of blood coming out of Cobain’s ear, the electrician reported seeing no visible signs of trauma, and initially believed that Cobain was asleep until he saw the shotgun pointing at his chin. A note was found, addressed to Cobain’s childhood imaginary friend “Boddah”, that said, paraphrasing, “I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing . . . for too many years now”. A high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium were also found in his body. Cobain’s body had lain there for days; the coroner’s report estimated Cobain to have died on April 5, 1994

Robert Johnson was an American blues singer and musician. His landmark recordings from 1936–1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that have influenced later generations of musicians died August 16, 1938, at the age of 27, near Greenwood, Mississippi. He had been playing for a few weeks at a country-dance in a town about 15 miles (24 km) from Greenwood. Differing accounts and theories attempt to shed light on the events preceding his death. A story often told is that one evening Johnson began flirting with a woman at a dance, the wife of the juke joint owner, according to rumor, was unaware  the bottle of whiskey she gave to Johnson had been poisoned by her husband. In another version, she was a married woman unrelated to the juke joint owner. Johnson was allegedly offered an open bottle of whiskey that was laced with strychnine.

Conspiracy theories abound about Cobain’s death, so much so that celebrated documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield even made a film, entitled Kurt and Courtney (Love, Cobain’s wife) about the Nirvana main man.

Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and depending upon what story you believe, Jim Morrison, were all heroin users. Heroin is cited as the direct cause of death in Joplin, and possible Morrison’s deaths. The cause of Winehouse’s death is yet to be determined as of this broadcast. All of these artists with the exception of Robert Johnson are also noted to have wrangled with personal inner issues.

Hendrix, Jones, and Winehouse all died in England. Joplin died in California, Morrison France, Johnson Mississippi.

The 27 club has led to a host of superstitions. These include the use of a white lighter being unlucky, as four of the members of the club (Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison and Cobain) were found dead with white lighters in their possession. In addition, there’s been the noted choice of musical instruments (mainly guitar) among the 27 club members.

One fact that can’t be written off as paranoid superstition is the musicians who have died at 27 is truly astounding. Although people die all the time at a variety of ages, there definitely seems to be a worryingly high instance of musicians who die at 27.



Author: Geo Gee

I'm a curious one that finds politics, social issues, and diverse progressive solutions interesting. I believe information and education are the most powerful weapons one can arm himself with. Those two dynamics alone open the doors to opportunities. I also subscribe to each one teach one for a better world for all.

3 thoughts on “Membership Into Club 27 Is Forever”

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