Rock 'n' Roll's 27 Club: Musical Icons Who Died At the Age of 27
The 27 Club is a term coined after fans noticed an alarming number of musicians lost their lives at the age of 27. These deaths are spread so far apart that it has become one of the most elusive and remarkably tragic coincidences in rock 'n' roll history.
With time, however, people began to notice that it wasn't just musicians. Today, the 27 Club consists of many young actors and artists that have lost their lives due to different things from addiction to suicide to freak accidents.
Still, this piece is limited to ten musical icons who unfortunately made it into the 27 Club.
Had Johnson been alive, he would have turned a hundred and ten this May. Johnson was not your average bluesman, though. The artist only recorded 29 songs in his lifetime, but his work has been so influential that he became one of the most studied country blues singers of all time.
His influence can even be felt in the works of legendary guitarists like Eric Clapton and Keith Richards.
Johnson is also popular for something other than his music—an alleged deal with the devil. According to an article from NPR, Johnson was not very good with the guitar when he played in Mississippi, his birth state, in his early years.
However, in a span of six months and a trip to Arkansas, he had mastered the guitar, leading people to give rise to the urban legend. The singer died under mysterious circumstances at 27. Some speculate that he was poisoned, but his death certificate cited syphilis as the cause.
Jones is a man who needs no introduction, but we'll give him one nonetheless. Jones was the founding guitarist of the iconic rock band Rolling Stones. Need we go on?
Even though it's been over five decades since his passing, his death remains controversial. The guitarist had a history of asthma and substance abuse. Just a few weeks after he was ejected from his band, he mysteriously drowned in the swimming pool of his own residence.
The death was officially ruled as a misadventure by the coroner, but very little else is known of the incident. He, too, died at the young age of 27.
Alan Wilson was a celebrated guitarist, singer, harmonica player, and primary songwriter in Canned Heat. The musician died on September 3, 1970, due to an overdose of barbiturates.
Reportedly, Wilson suffered from depression and had attempted suicide before. So it cannot be said with certainty that the musician took his own life.
Jimi Hendrix is another icon who is a member of the 27 Club. According to Rolling Stone, the musician took nine sleeping pills and died as he choked on his own vomit.
He left behind a "suicide note" of sorts in the form of a poem that spanned multiple pages.
The poem is in possession of Eric Burdon, who refuses to show it to anyone. However, he did go on record to state that Hendrix did not commit suicide in a conventional way but rather choose to exit when he wanted to.
Joplin is often celebrated as America's first female rockstar. Beyond her music, she was known for her instinctive and outspoken liberalism, especially regarding race, which contrasted very much with her peers.
The music icon died of an accidental heroin overdose at 27. In an article for The New York Times, Joplin was described as a tomboy who knew early she was different. The article also noted that she had intimate relationships with both men and women.
The Guardian once wrote that Jim Morrison was a man who was spectacularly good at being a rockstar but catastrophically bad at the rest of life, and it appears so.
The Doors' frontman can be directly attributed to some of the biggest hits of the 1960s and was without a doubt a musical genius. However, he was an alcoholic with a long history of substance abuse.
The musician was found dead in a bathtub in Paris by his girlfriend Pamela Courson on July 3, 1971, at 27. He died less than four months after he stepped aside from the limelight and moved to Paris with his girlfriend.
Another member of the 27 Club, Pete Ham, was a Welsh singer best known as the lead vocalist and composer for the 1970's rock band Badfinger.
According to the BBC, the artist discussed his financial problems with bandmate Tommy Evans the night before committing suicide in 1975.
The report also stated that Ham was expecting a child with his girlfriend and wanted money to give them a good life. The night before he took his own life, the last thing he told Evans was,
I know a way out.
Grunge rock icon Kurt Cobain died on April 5, 1994, at age 27. His body was found by Gary Smith, an electrician who was installing a security camera in his residence.
Cobain is believed to have committed suicide. A month prior to his death, Cobain put himself in a coma when he consumed champagne mixed with a drug called Rohypnol. He also had a problem with heroin.
Cobain had threatened to kill himself before. The police were called to his residence, and they confiscated four guns from his possession. He even checked into rehab for a while. But on March 30, 1994, he walked away from the clinic only to be found dead less than a week later.
Randy “Stretch” Walker
Randy Walker was a member of New York City-bred Hollis, Queens hip-hop and production act Live Squad. He had made a name for himself because of his affiliation with Tupac Shakur in the early '90s.
The rapper was killed in a fatal high-speed car chase in Queens on November 30, 1995, at 27. Reportedly, he was being chased by three armed men in a car. Four shots had been fired, out of which two hit the rapper on the back. He died from those injuries.
Winehouse, a Grammy Award-winning singer, was found dead in her flat in Camden, North London, on the afternoon of July 23, 2011.
Winehouse had 416mg of alcohol per deciliter in her blood, which was enough to make her comatose and depress her respiratory system. The first respondents found her fully clothed with a laptop on her bed and empty bottles of vodka on the floor. She, too, was 27 years old.