27 Club

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The 27 Club is a term that refers to a number of popular musicians who died at age 27,[1] often as a result of drug and alcohol abuse, or violent means such as homicide or suicide.[2] The number of musicians who have died at this age and the circumstances of many of those deaths have given rise to the idea that premature deaths at this age are unusually common.

The "club" has been repeatedly cited in music magazines, journals and the daily press. Several exhibitions have been devoted to the idea, as well as novels, films and stage plays.[3][4][5][6][7] There have been many different theories and speculations about the causes of such early deaths and their possible connections. Cobain and Hendrix biographer Charles R. Cross writes "The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27."[8]

However, a study 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. Although the sampled musicians faced an increased risk of death in their 20s and 30s, this was not limited to the age of 27.[9] Informal research using an automated query across Wikipedia data (via DBpedia) in 2012 effectively reached the same conclusion: "There may well be a 27 Club of accursed musicians, but the 74 Club is more popular.".[10]


Jim Morrison, lead singer of the rock band the Doors.

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,[11][12] but it was not until the death of Kurt Cobain, about two and a half decades later, that the idea of a "27 Club" began to catch on in public perception.[8]

According to Hendrix and Cobain biographer Charles R. Cross, the growing importance of the media—Internet, television and magazines—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.[13] Other authors share his view.[14] On the other hand, Josh Hunter and 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, who all committed suicide.[15] 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".[8]

In 2011, seventeen years after Cobain's death, Amy Winehouse died at the age of 27, and there was a large amount of media attention devoted to the club once again.[16] Three years earlier, she had expressed a fear of dying at that age.[17]

References in music

The song "28" by John Craigie off his album Montana Tale, is about the club. The three verses refer to the deaths of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain respectively.

The theme is referenced in the song "27 Forever" by Eric Burdon, on his 2013 album 'Til Your River Runs Dry.[18]

The name of the song "27 Club" by letlive. off their album The Blackest Beautiful is derived from the club.[19]

The song title "27" by Fall Out Boy from their album Folie à Deux is a reference to the club. The song explores the hedonistic lifestyles common in rock and roll. Pete Wentz, the primary lyricist of Fall Out Boy, wrote the song because he felt that he was living a similarly dangerous lifestyle.[20]

People identified as being in the 27 Club

Name Date of death Official cause of death Fame Age 27 Club
Levy, AlexandreAlexandre Levy January 17, 1892 Unknown Composer, pianist and conductor 27 years, 98 days [21]
Chauvin, LouisLouis Chauvin March 26, 1908 Neurosyphilitic sclerosis Ragtime musician 27 years, 13 days [21][22]
Johnson, RobertRobert Johnson August 16, 1938 Poisoning (strychnine [unattributed]) Blues singer and musician who recorded a very influential set of 29 songs. 27 years, 100 days [21][22][23][24][25][26][27]
Jaffe, NatNat Jaffe August 5, 1945 Complications from high blood pressure Swing jazz pianist 27 years, 216 days [21]
Belvin, JesseJesse Belvin February 6, 1960 Traffic collision (car) R&B singer, pianist and songwriter 27 years, 53 days [21][22][24][25]
Rudy Lewis May 20, 1964 Drug overdose Vocalist of the Drifters 27 years, 271 days [24][26]
Joe Henderson October 24, 1964 Heart attack R&B and gospel singer 27 years, 183 days [28]
Malcolm Hale October 31, 1968 Poisoning (carbon monoxide) Original member and lead guitarist of Spanky and Our Gang 27 years, 166 days [21][25]
Pride, DickieDickie Pride March 26, 1969 Drug overdose (sleeping pills) Rock and roll singer 27 years, 156 days [24]
Jones, BrianBrian Jones July 3, 1969 Drowning[29] (coroner's report states "death by misadventure")[30] Rolling Stones founder, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist 27 years, 125 days [21][22][24][25][26][27][31]
Wilson, Alan "Blind Owl"Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson September 3, 1970 Drug overdose (barbiturate), possible suicide Leader, singer and primary composer of Canned Heat 27 years, 61 days [21][22][24][25][26][27]
Hendrix, JimiJimi Hendrix September 18, 1970 Asphyxiation[32] Pioneering electric guitarist, singer and songwriter for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys 27 years, 295 days [21][22][24][25][26][27][31]
Joplin, JanisJanis Joplin October 4, 1970 Drug overdose (probably heroin)[33] Lead vocalist and songwriter for Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band 27 years, 258 days [21][22][24][25][26][27][34]
Arlester "Dyke" Christian March 13, 1971 Murdered Frontman, vocalist and bassist of Dyke and the Blazers 27 years, 273 days [21]
Morrison, JimJim Morrison July 3, 1971 Heart failure[35] Singer, lyricist, and leader of the Doors 27 years, 207 days [21][22][24][25][26][27][31]
Jones, LindaLinda Jones March 14, 1972 Complications from diabetes Soul singer 27 years, 91 days [24]
Harvey, LeslieLeslie Harvey May 3, 1972 Electrocution Guitarist for Stone the Crows and brother of Alex Harvey 27 years, 233 days [22][25][27]
McKernan, Ron "Pigpen"Ron "Pigpen" McKernan March 8, 1973 Gastrointestinal hemorrhage Founding member, keyboardist and singer of the Grateful Dead 27 years, 181 days [21][22][24][25][26][27]
Roger Lee Durham July 27, 1973 Fell off a horse and died from the injuries Singer and percussionist of Bloodstone 27 years, 163 days [21][25]
Wallace Yohn August 12, 1974 Plane crash Organ player of Chase 27 years, 212 days [21]
Alexander, DaveDave Alexander February 10, 1975 Pulmonary edema Bassist for the Stooges 27 years, 252 days [21][22][24][25][26][27]
Ham, PetePete Ham April 24, 1975 Suicide by hanging Keyboardist and guitarist, leader of Badfinger 27 years, 362 days [21][22][24][25][26][27]
Thain, GaryGary Thain December 8, 1975 Drug overdose (heroin) Former bassist of Uriah Heep and the Keef Hartley Band 27 years, 207 days [21][22][25][26]
CeciliaCecilia August 2, 1976 Traffic collision (car) Singer 27 years, 296 days [36][37]
Köllen, HelmutHelmut Köllen May 3, 1977 Poisoning (carbon monoxide) Bassist for 1970s prog rock band Triumvirat 27 years, 62 days [21][25]
Bell, ChrisChris Bell December 27, 1978 Traffic collision (car) Singer-songwriter and guitarist of power pop band Big Star and solo 27 years, 349 days [21][22][24][25]
Zenon De Fleur March 17, 1979 Traffic collision (car) and subsequent medical complications Guitarist for the Count Bishops 27 years, 189 days [38][39]
Miller, JacobJacob Miller March 23, 1980 Traffic collision (car) Reggae artist and lead singer for Inner Circle 27 years, 324 days [22][26]
Boon, D.D. Boon December 22, 1985 Traffic collision (van) Guitarist, lead singer of punk band the Minutemen 27 years, 266 days [21][22][24][25][27]
Bashlachev, AlexanderAlexander Bashlachev February 17, 1988 Fall from a height, probable suicide Poet, rock musician and songwriter 27 years, 266 days [36]
Basquiat, Jean-MichelJean-Michel Basquiat August 12, 1988 Drug overdose (Speedball) Painter and graffiti artist; formed the band Gray 27 years, 234 days [24][25][26][27]
de Freitas, PetePete de Freitas June 14, 1989 Traffic collision (motorcycle) Drummer for Echo & the Bunnymen 27 years, 346 days [21][22][24][25][26]
Dimitar Voev September 5, 1992 Cancer Founder of the Bulgarian group New Generation 27 years, 107 days [40]
Zapata, MiaMia Zapata July 7, 1993 Murdered Lead singer of the Gits 27 years, 316 days [21][22][24]
Cobain, KurtKurt Cobain April 5, 1994 c. Suicide by gunshot[41] Founding member, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for Nirvana 27 years, 44 days c. [21][22][24][25][26][27][34]
Pfaff, KristenKristen Pfaff June 16, 1994 Drug overdose (heroin) Bass guitarist for Hole and Janitor Joe 27 years, 21 days [21][22][24][25][26][27]
Edwards, RicheyRichey Edwards February 1, 1995 Disappeared; officially presumed dead November 23, 2008 Lyricist and guitarist for Manic Street Preachers 27 years, 41 days [21][24][25][27]
Pat, FatFat Pat February 3, 1998 Murdered American rapper and member of Screwed Up Click 27 years, 61 days [21][22]
Tah, FreakyFreaky Tah March 28, 1999 Murdered American rapper and member of the hip hop group Lost Boyz 27 years, 318 days [21]
KamiKami June 21, 1999 Subarachnoid hemorrhage Drummer for Malice Mizer 27 years, 140 days [42]
Bueno, RodrigoRodrigo Bueno June 24, 2000 Traffic collision (car) Cuarteto singer 27 years, 31 days [36]
Sean Patrick McCabe August 28, 2000 Asphyxiation Lead singer of Ink & Dagger 27 years, 289 days [21][22][24][25]
Maria Serrano Serrano November 24, 2001 Plane crash (Crossair Flight 3597) Background singer for Passion Fruit 27 years, 363 days [21]
Ward, Jeremy MichaelJeremy Michael Ward May 25, 2003 Drug overdose (heroin) The Mars Volta and De Facto sound manipulator 27 years, 20 days [21][22][24][25]
Bryan Ottoson April 19, 2005 Drug overdose (prescription medication) Guitarist for American Head Charge 27 years, 32 days [21][22][25]
Elizalde, ValentínValentín Elizalde November 26, 2006 Murdered Mexican banda singer 27 years, 297 days [21]
Winehouse, AmyAmy Winehouse July 23, 2011 Alcohol poisoning[43] Singer-songwriter 27 years, 312 days [22][24][25][26][27][31]
Richard Turner August 11, 2011 Cardiac arrest Trumpet player, collaborator with Friendly Fires[44] 27 years, 12 days [22]
Nicole Bogner January 6, 2012 Undisclosed illness Singer for Visions of Atlantis 27 years, 290 days [45]
Soroush "Looloosh" Farazmand November 11, 2013 Murdered Guitarist for the Yellow Dogs 27 years, 11 days [46][47]
Slađa Guduraš December 10, 2014 Road accident Bosnian pop singer and actress 27 years, 213 days [48]

See also


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  2. ^ Weiss, David. "Amy Winehouse & The 27 Club". Life Goes Strong. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
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  4. ^ "The 27 Club: Why Age 27 Is Important". 
  5. ^ "The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll". 
  6. ^ "The Curse of 27: They Have Three Things in Common. Talent, Fame... and a Tragic Death at the Age of 27. the 27 Club. Forever 27.". 
  7. ^ "The 27 Club (Movie)". 
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  10. ^ Ayers, Danny (2012-03-07). "Debunking the 27 Club with SPARQL". Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. 
  11. ^ Nesta Roberts (September 10, 1971). Flower bower. The Guardian (UK). p. 13. 
  12. ^ James Riordan; Jerry Prochnicky (1992). Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison. It Books. pp. 416, 467. ISBN 978-0-688-11915-7. 
  13. ^ Charles R. Cross (2002). Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain (2nd ed.). Hyperion. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-7868-8402-5. 
  14. ^ R. Gary Patterson. Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses. p. 259. 
  15. ^ Josh Hunter; Eric Segalstad (2008). The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll. Berkeley Lake: Samadhi Creations. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-615-18964-2. Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved September 20, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and the 27 Club" (July 23, 2011). The Washington Post. July 24, 2015. 
  17. ^ "The Inquisitr: Stating the Obvious, Amy Winehouse". Inquisitr.com. December 28, 2008. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
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  19. ^ "The Blackest Beautiful". 
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  30. ^ Wyman 2002, p. 329
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