Singers and Musicians Who Died at 27

Singers and Musicians Who Died at 27

These are the real rock n' rollers. The 27 Club refers to a group of singers and musicians who all died at the age of 27. Whether they were rumored to have signed a deal with the devil or just had too much to handle, their contributions to music will never be forgotten.
There is a part of you that loves being miserable. Life becomes easy when you acknowledge it. ~ Anonymous

I read this quote on some sidey post card a few years ago; and it immediately came back to me as I read about the "Curse of 27" concept. The first thought that came to my mind was that members of the 27 Club probably lived by this quote. Though the word 'miserable' kind of pokes. They didn't really lead a miserable life, not consciously or by choice at least; and yet their lives turned out to be full of pain and misery. You read about the musicians who died at 27 and you can't help feeling this pang in the chest. Do you feel sad or pity for them? Not exactly. Do you feel hatred? Not that either. But something just aches deep inside. These are the people who led a true rock n' roll life. Kurt Cobain is one of the later members of the club, but if the former members of the 27 club would have read his suicide note they would have probably lit up their lighters when they came to the end of it... "it's better to burn out than to fade away".

Curse of 27 - Most Iconic Members

The Curse of 27 - or the 27 Club, or the Forever 27 Club - refers to a club of persons (singers and musicians mostly, all dead) belonging to the music industry, who died at the age of 27 years. The club includes many people from the music industry - right from its alleged first member Robert Johnson (1911 - 1938) to the latest Amy Winehouse (1983 - 2011). Here is a brief account of some of its most iconic members. In the context in which this club was formed, the following members are those music-makers whose lives epitomized the rock n' roll life, who perfectly fit the image. They are the 'originals'.

~ Kurt Cobain ~ ("Come As You Are", "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "All Apologies")

Born: 20 February 1967
Died: 5 April 1994
Cause of Death: Suicide

Kurt Cobain is probably the best thing to have ever happened to grunge music. Lead singer and guitarist of the most popular grunge band Nirvana, Kurt went through a troubled childhood. Many believe he never really fully recovered from his parents' divorce (they divorced when he was 8 years old). Originally a very energetic, excited, happy and positive child, Kurt's life was full of angst in the later years. He was married to Courtney Love and was father of Frances Bean Cobain at the time of his death. Kurt suffered from a chronic stomach pain that was the cause of much emotional distress to him. He developed a habit for heroin after having consumed the drug for three days continuously to find that it relieved him of the stomach ache. In his suicide note, he said he didn't feel for music the way he used to before, which is held as the motive behind his suicide, apart from his health condition and his failing marriage.

~ Amy Winehouse ~ ("Rehab", "Tears Dry On Their Own", "Stronger Than Me")

Born: 14 September 1983
Died: 23 July 2011
Cause of Death: (unexplained)

Best known for her contralto voice and superb blending of music genres such as jazz, soul and R&B, Amy Winehouse is the latest member to have been included in the 27 Club. Her accomplishments include being the first British female artist to win 5 Grammys, winning the BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist (2007), winning the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song among many other. The artist is also known for her famous beehive hairstyle and her 'Cleopatra-inspired' make-up style. Amid many personal difficulties such as being a manic depressive, engaging in violence with husband Fielder-Civil, drug problems and the like, Amy managed to pave the way for unconventional female artists such as Lady Gaga. Her is a musical genius that got wasted in a life of immense emotional turmoil. Her death was mourned by many artists like U2, Nicki Minaj, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga through the tributes they paid her.

~ Jimi Hendrix ~ ("Hey Joe", "Foxy Lady", "All Along The Watchtower")

Born: 27 November 1942
Died: 18 September 1970
Cause of Death: Asphyxiation

One of the early musicians to have been known for abuse of psychedelic drugs like LSD, Jimi Hendrix is regarded as the best electric guitarist in the history of music. Having brought the wah-wah pedal to mainstream rock music, he has been represented at the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame in US. Hendrix achieved many a critical, famous and prestigious honors of the music industry, and is probably the only artist whose debut album was included in the National Recording Registry, United States. It is quite surprising how many of Hendrix's albums were released after his death rather than when he was alive. Jimi Hendrix was dating Monika Dannemann at the time of his death. He asphyxiated on his own vomit after having consumed a fatal overdose of Vesperax sleeping pills.

~ Janis Joplin ~ ("Piece of My Heart", "Cry Baby", "Me and Bobby McGee")

Born: 19 January 1943
Died: 4 October 1970
Cause of Death: Heroin overdose

Having Featured in Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, Janis Joplin was initially the lead singer of the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, and later pursued a solo career. She rose to fame in both phases of her music career. Janis drove a Porsche 356C that was much famed for the psychedelic way in which it was painted - with vibrant colors. Janis died only a little more than two weeks after the demise of Jimi Hendrix... one can only imagine what a devastating shock her death must have been to all music aficionados all over the world. To lose two of its most beloved and revered artists must have been too much of a shock for the music fraternity. Janis was said to have one of the most original voices. A long long time after her death, Janis was taken into the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame in 1992 and was also awarded the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement in 2005.

~ Brian Jones ~ (slide guitar in "I Wanna Be Your Man", accordion in "Backstreet Girl", harmonica in "Stoned")

Born: 28 February 1942
Died: 3 July 1969
Cause of Death: Drowned

The founder member of The Rolling Stones, Brian Jones exited the band, as he exited his family after having disgraced out of school. It is believed Brian spent quite a few nomadic years in Europe and Scandinavia, where he would perform with his guitar on the streets. Mick Taylor replaced Brian as his substance abuse habit got out of control. Brian Jones knew how to play an unbelievable collection of different instruments - guitar, harmonica, keyboard, clarinet, banjo, piano, saxophone, sitar, cello to name a few. The Rolling Stones was born out of respondents to an ad Brian had placed in a newspaper, inviting musicians to form an R&B band. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards met Brian at one of his performances with Paul Jones... and rest is history. Brian Jones died by drowning in his swimming pool. He was dating Anna Wohlin at the time.

~ Jim Morrison ~ ("The End", "Love Me Two Times", "Break On Through")

Born: 8 December 1943
Died: 3 July 1971
Cause of Death: Heart failure

Jim Morrison worked with all possible varieties of 'rock' - psychedelic rock, blues rock, rock n' roll, acid rock as well as hard rock. The most definitive incident of Morrison's life was a car accident he witnessed at the age of 4 years, when he was driving with his family through the desert. Jim referred to the incident in many of the songs in his musical career. Lead singer and lyricist of the band The Doors, Jim Morrison died of a heroin overdose, it is said. Jim has been included in the Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Times. Jim was married twice, once in a common-law marriage with Pamela Courson, and then with Patricia Kennealy. Morrison was also a great poet, and known for impromptu improvisations of lyrics of many of the songs of The Doors when they were live in concert. The stone laid on his grave reads "ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ" which is interpreted as "true to his spirit"... which is pretty much how Jim lived and how his music was.

~ Robert Johnson ~ ("Crossroad", "Love In Vain", "Sweet Home Chicago")

Born: 8 May 1911
Died: 16 August 1938
Cause of Death: Strychnine poisoning

Though he enjoyed little commercial success, Robert Johnson is hands-down regarded as one of the greatest and most significant influences in the blues genre of music. There are very little documented references that would tell us anything about Johnson's life as such. The fact that he was an itinerant musician who performed mostly on street corners and in nightclubs, and the fact that he died at such an early age, only add to the lack of information. Legend has it that Robert Johnson was in fact the Faust who sold his soul for his musical talent and genius. References of this can be found in Johnson's own songs. Few of his songs have been regarded as iconic ones to have shaped the genre of rock n' roll music. The singer is said to have met his end in drinking from a strychnine poisoned whiskey bottle.

Few Other Members of the 27 Club
  1. Linda Jones
  2. Lesley Harvey
  3. Richard Turner
  4. Alexandre Levy
  5. Rudy Lewis
  6. Chris Bell
  7. Pete Ham
  8. Brian Ottoson
  9. Jesse Belvin
  10. Louis Chauvin
The lives of these and 24 more musicians have been chronicled in the book "The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll" written by Eric Segalstad. The book explores the history and impact of rock n' roll music through the lives and experiences of these 34 musicians, who all died at 27 and are hence members of the 27 Club. It saddens you deeply to learn what became of these great musicians and how their lives ended. Had they lived longer, our lives would have been better enriched by their music. But these are people who would have rather died than doled out music that they didn't believe in. And so be it. R.I.P.
Advertisement