27 Club

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27 Club graffiti in Tel Aviv depicting several well-known members of the club. Left to right: Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse.[1]

The 27 Club is an informal list consisting mostly of popular musicians, artists, actors, and other celebrities who died at age 27.[2][3][4][5][6] Although the claim of a "statistical spike" for the death of musicians at that age has been refuted by scientific research, it remains a cultural phenomenon, documenting the deaths of celebrities, many noted for their high-risk lifestyles. Because the club is entirely notional, there is no official membership.

Cultural phenomenon

Beginning with the deaths of several 27-year-old popular musicians between 1969 and 1971, dying at the age of 27 came to be, and remains, a perennial subject of popular culture, celebrity journalism, and entertainment industry lore.[2][3] This cultural phenomenon, which came to be known as the "27 Club," attributes special significance to popular musicians, artists, actors, and other celebrities who died at age 27, often as a result of drug and alcohol abuse or violent means such as homicide, suicide, or transportation-related accidents.[7] Several exhibitions have been devoted to the idea, as well as novels, films and stage plays.[8][9][6][10] The cultural phenomenon also gave rise to an urban myth that celebrity deaths are more common at 27, a claim that has been refuted by statistical research.[11][5]

History

Jim Morrison, lead singer of the rock band the Doors and among the first people associated with the 27 Club

Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison all died at the age of 27 between 1969 and 1971. At the time, the coincidence gave rise to some comment,[12][13] but it was not until Kurt Cobain's 1994 death, at age 27, that the idea of a "27 Club" began to catch on in public perception.[14] Blues musician Robert Johnson, who died in 1938, is one of the earliest popular musicians to be included in lists of 27 Club members.[15]

According to Hendrix and Cobain's biographer Charles R. Cross, the growing importance of the media—Internet, magazines, and television—and the response to an interview of Cobain's mother were jointly responsible for such theories. An excerpt from a statement that Cobain's mother, Wendy Fradenburg Cobain O'Connor, made in the Aberdeen, Washington, newspaper The Daily World—"Now he's gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club."—referred to Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison dying at the same age, according to Cross.[16] Other authors share his view.[17] On the other hand, Eric Segalstad, writer of The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll, assumed that Cobain's mother referred to the death of his two uncles and his great-uncle, all of whom had also committed suicide.[18] According to Cross, the events have led a "set of conspiracy theorists [to suggest] the absurd notion that Kurt Cobain intentionally timed his death so he could join the 27 Club".[14]

In 2011, seventeen years after Cobain's death, Amy Winehouse died at the age of 27, prompting a renewed swell of media attention devoted to the club once again.[19] Three years earlier, she had expressed a fear of dying at that age.[20]

An individual does not necessarily have to be a musician to qualify as a "member" of the 27 Club. Rolling Stone included television actor Jonathan Brandis, who committed suicide in 2003, in a list of 27 Club members.[15] Anton Yelchin, who had played in a punk rock band but was primarily known as a film actor, was also described as a member of the club upon his death in 2016.[21] Likewise, Jean-Michel Basquiat has been included in 27 Club lists, despite the relative brevity of his music career, and his prominence as a painter.[22]

Scientific studies

According to music biographer Charles R. Cross, "The number of musicians who passed away at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. Though humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27."[14]

Despite the cultural significance given to musician and celebrity deaths at age 27, the claim that they are statistically more common at this age is an urban myth, refuted by scientific research.[2]

A study by university academics published in the British Medical Journal in December 2011 concluded that there was no increase in the risk of death for musicians at the age of 27, stating that there were equally small increases at ages 25 and 32. The study noted that young adult musicians have a higher death rate than the general young adult population, surmising that "fame may increase the risk of death among musicians, but this risk is not limited to age 27". The selection criteria for the musicians included in the study, based on having scored a UK No. 1 album between 1956 and 2007, excluded several notable members of the 27 Club, including Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Pete Ham, and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.[11]

A 2014 article at The Conversation suggested that statistical evidence shows popular musicians are most likely to die at the age of 56 (2.2% compared to 1.3% at 27).[5]

In popular culture

Music

Video games

  • In the 2016 video game Hitman, one of the in-game missions, Club 27, involves killing an indie musician who is celebrating his 27th birthday.[42]

Comics

Identified members

Because the 27 Club is entirely notional, there is no official membership. The following table lists people described as "members" of the club in reliable published sources, in the opinion of their respective authors.

Name Date of birth Date of death Cause of death Fame Age Sources
Alexandre Levy November 10, 1864 January 17, 1892 Not recorded Composer, pianist and conductor 27 years, 68 days [44]
Louis Chauvin March 13, 1881 March 26, 1908 Neurosyphilitic sclerosis Ragtime musician 27 years, 13 days [44]
Rupert Brooke August 3, 1887 April 23, 1915 Sepsis Poet 27 years, 263 days [45]
Robert Johnson May 8, 1911 August 16, 1938 Unknown Blues singer and musician 27 years, 100 days [44][46]
Nat Jaffe January 1, 1918 August 5, 1945 Complications from high blood pressure Swing jazz pianist 27 years, 216 days [44]
Jesse Belvin December 15, 1932 February 6, 1960 Car accident, suspected foul play R&B singer, pianist and songwriter 27 years, 53 days [44][47]
Rudy Lewis August 23, 1936 May 20, 1964 Drug overdose Vocalist of the Drifters 27 years, 271 days [48]
Joe Henderson April 24, 1937 October 24, 1964 Heart attack R&B and gospel singer 27 years, 183 days [49]
Malcolm Hale May 17, 1941 October 30, 1968 Carbon monoxide poisoning Original member and lead guitarist of Spanky and Our Gang 27 years, 166 days [44]
Dickie Pride October 21, 1941 March 26, 1969 Drug overdose Rock and roll singer 27 years, 156 days [50]
Brian Jones February 28, 1942 July 3, 1969 Drowning Rolling Stones founder, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist 27 years, 125 days [44][51][52][53]
Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson July 4, 1943 September 3, 1970 Drug overdose Leader, singer and primary composer of Canned Heat 27 years, 61 days [44]
Jimi Hendrix November 27, 1942 September 18, 1970 Asphyxia due to drug use Pioneering electric guitarist, singer and songwriter of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys 27 years, 295 days [44][54]
Janis Joplin January 19, 1943 October 4, 1970 Drug overdose Lead vocalist and songwriter of Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band 27 years, 258 days [44][55][56]
Arlester "Dyke" Christian June 13, 1943 March 13, 1971 Murder Frontman, vocalist and bassist of Dyke and the Blazers 27 years, 273 days [44]
Jim Morrison December 8, 1943 July 3, 1971 Heart failure Singer, lyricist, and leader of the Doors 27 years, 207 days [44][57]
Leslie Harvey September 14, 1944 May 3, 1972 Electrocution Guitarist in several Scottish bands, most notably Stone the Crows. 27 years, 232 days [44][58]
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan September 8, 1945 March 8, 1973 Gastrointestinal hemorrhage Founding member, keyboardist and singer of the Grateful Dead 27 years, 181 days [44]
Roger Lee Durham February 14, 1946 July 27, 1973 Horseriding accident Singer and percussionist of Bloodstone 27 years, 163 days [44]
Pamela Courson December 22, 1946 April 25, 1974 Drug overdose Long-term companion of Jim Morrison and heir to his estate 27 years, 124 days [15][59][60]
Wallace "Wally" Yohn January 12, 1947 August 12, 1974 Plane crash Organ player of Chase 27 years, 212 days [44]
Dave Alexander June 3, 1947 February 10, 1975 Pulmonary edema Bassist of the Stooges 27 years, 252 days [44]
Pete Ham April 27, 1947 April 24, 1975 Suicide Keyboardist and guitarist, leader of Badfinger 27 years, 362 days [44]
Gary Thain May 15, 1948 December 8, 1975 Drug overdose Former bassist of Uriah Heep and the Keef Hartley Band 27 years, 205 days [44]
Cecilia October 11, 1948 August 2, 1976 Car accident Singer 27 years, 296 days [61][62]
Helmut Köllen March 2, 1950 May 3, 1977 Carbon monoxide poisoning Bassist of 1970s prog rock band Triumvirat 27 years, 62 days [44]
Chris Bell January 12, 1951 December 27, 1978 Car accident Singer-songwriter and guitarist of power pop band Big Star and solo 27 years, 349 days [44]
Zenon De Fleur September 9, 1951 March 17, 1979 Car accident Guitarist of the Count Bishops 27 years, 189 days [49][63]
D. Boon April 1, 1958 December 22, 1985 Car accident Guitarist, lead singer of punk band Minutemen 27 years, 266 days [44]
Alexander Bashlachev May 27, 1960 February 17, 1988 Defenestration, possible suicide Poet, rock musician and songwriter 27 years, 266 days [61]
Amar Singh Chamkila July 21, 1960 March 8, 1988 Murder Singer, songwriter, musician, and composer 27 years, 231 days [64]
Jean-Michel Basquiat December 22, 1960 August 12, 1988 Drug overdose Painter and graffiti artist; formed the band Gray 27 years, 234 days [48]
Pete de Freitas August 2, 1961 June 14, 1989 Motorcycle accident Drummer of Echo & the Bunnymen 27 years, 316 days [44]
Finbarr Donnelly April 25, 1962 June 18, 1989 Drowning Singer of Five Go Down to the Sea? 27 years, 50 days [65]
Chris Austin February 24, 1964 March 16, 1991 Plane crash Country singer and guitarist/fiddle player for Reba McEntire 27 years, 20 days [66]
Dimitar Voev May 21, 1965 September 5, 1992 Cancer Poet, founder of the Bulgarian new wave band New Generation 27 years, 107 days [67]
Mia Zapata August 25, 1965 July 7, 1993 Murder Lead singer of the Gits 27 years, 316 days [44]
Kurt Cobain February 20, 1967 April 5, 1994 c. Suicide Founding member, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of Nirvana 27 years, 44 days c. [44][55][68]
Kristen Pfaff May 26, 1967 June 16, 1994 Drug overdose Bass guitarist of Hole and Janitor Joe 27 years, 21 days [44]
Richey Edwards December 22, 1967 February 1, 1995 Disappeared; later declared legally dead Lyricist and guitarist of Manic Street Preachers 27 years, 41 days [44]
Stretch April 8, 1968 November 30, 1995 Murder Rapper 27 years, 236 days [69]
Fat Pat December 4, 1970 February 3, 1998 Murder American rapper and member of Screwed Up Click 27 years, 61 days [44]
Freaky Tah May 14, 1971 March 28, 1999 Murder American rapper and member of the hip hop group Lost Boyz 27 years, 318 days [44]
Kami February 1, 1972 June 21, 1999 Subarachnoid hemorrhage Drummer of Malice Mizer 27 years, 140 days [70]
Rodrigo Bueno May 24, 1973 June 24, 2000 Car accident Cuarteto singer 27 years, 31 days [61]
Sean Patrick McCabe November 13, 1972 August 28, 2000 Asphyxia Lead singer of Ink & Dagger 27 years, 289 days [44]
Maria Serrano Serrano November 26, 1973 November 24, 2001 Plane crash Singer of Passion Fruit 27 years, 363 days [44]
Rico Yan March 14, 1975 March 29, 2002 Acute Hemorrhagic Pancreatitis Filipino actor 27 years, 15 days [44]
Jonathan Brandis April 13, 1976 November 12, 2003 Suicide American actor 27 years, 213 days [15]
Jeremy Ward May 5, 1976 May 25, 2003 Drug overdose The Mars Volta and De Facto sound manipulator 27 years, 20 days [44]
Bryan Ottoson March 18, 1978 April 19, 2005 Drug overdose Guitarist of American Head Charge 27 years, 32 days [44]
Valentín Elizalde February 1, 1979 November 25, 2006 Murder Mexican banda singer 27 years, 297 days [44]
Damien "Damo" Morris May 22, 1980 December 19, 2007 Bus accident Member of Australian deathcore band the Red Shore 27 years, 211 days [71]
Orish Grinstead June 2, 1980 April 20, 2008 Kidney failure Founding member of the R&B group 702 27 years, 323 days [72]
Jade Goody June 5, 1981 March 22, 2009 Cancer of the cervix Reality-television personality 27 years, 290 days [21][73]
Dash Snow July 27, 1981 July 13, 2009 Drug overdose Artist 27 years, 351 days [74][75]
Amy Winehouse September 14, 1983 July 23, 2011 Alcohol poisoning Singer-songwriter 27 years, 312 days [51][55][76][77]
Richard Turner July 30, 1984 August 11, 2011 Heart attack Trumpet player, collaborator with Friendly Fires 27 years, 12 days [78]
Anton Yelchin March 11, 1989 June 19, 2016 Car accident Actor, Chekov in the Star Trek reboot series 27 years, 100 days [21][79]
Thomas Fekete July 1, 1988 May 31, 2016 Cancer Guitarist of Surfer Blood 27 years, 335 days [80]
Kim Jong-hyun April 8, 1990 December 18, 2017 Suicide Vocalist and lyricist of Shinee 27 years, 254 days [81][82]
Fredo Santana July 4, 1990 January 19, 2018 Idiopathic epilepsy American rapper 27 years, 199 days [83][84]
Tyler Skaggs July 13, 1991 July 1, 2019 Asphyxia due to drug use American professional baseball starting pitcher 27 years, 353 days [76]
Benjamin Keough October 21, 1992 July 12, 2020 Suicide Elvis Presley's grandson and son of Lisa Marie Presley and brother of Riley Keough 27 years, 265 days [76]
Murda Killa [ru] March 9, 1993 July 13, 2020 Asthma attack provoked by the use of alcohol and antidepressants Russian rapper 27 years, 127 days [85]
Yoo Joo Eun [ko] May 3, 1995 August 29, 2022 Suicide Korean actress 27 years, 118 days [86]
Walkie May 24, 1995 September 30, 2022 Suicide Russian battle rapper 27 years, 129 days [87]
Yung Trappa [ru] August 14, 1995 February 2, 2023 Overdose Russian rapper 27 years, 172 days [88]

See also

Citations

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  87. ^ Соцсети сообщили о гибели рэпера Walkie в Краснодаре
  88. ^ Треки на грани и любовь по принуждению: чем запомнится умерший в Петербурге рэпер Yung Trappa

General sources