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27 Club

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27 Club graffiti in Tel Aviv depicting several members of the club.

The 27 Club is a list of popular musicians, artists, or actors who died at age 27. It originated with an unsupported claim of a "statistical spike" for the death of musicians at that age, but this has been repeatedly disproved by research.

It remains a cultural meme, documenting the deaths of celebrities, some noted for their high-risk lifestyles. Names are often put forward for inclusion, but because the club is entirely notional, there is no official membership.

Cultural phenomenon

The 27 Club is a list of popular musicians, artists, actors and athletes who have died at age 27,[1] often as a result of drug and alcohol abuse, or violent means such as homicide, suicide, or transportation-related accidents.[2] The deaths of several 27 year-old popular musicians between 1969 and 1971 led to the belief that deaths are more common at this age. Statistical studies have failed to find any unusual pattern of musician deaths at this age, comparing it to equally small increases at ages 25 and 32, with a 2011 BMJ study noting instead that young adult musicians have a higher death rate than the rest of the young adult population, concluding "Fame may increase the risk of death among musicians, but this risk is not limited to age 27."[3][4][5]

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.[6][7][8][9] 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 wrote, four years before the BMJ study was published, "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."[10]

History

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 1994 death of Kurt Cobain at age 27, that the idea of a "27 Club" began to catch on in public perception.[10]

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, 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.[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".[10]

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.[16] Three years earlier, she had expressed a fear of dying at that age.[17]

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 "members" of the 27 Club.[18] 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.[19] Likewise, Jean-Michel Basquiat has been included in 27 Club lists, despite the relative brevity of his music career and his prominence as a graffiti artist and painter.[20][21]

Scientific studies

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.[3] A 2015 article in The Independent also provided statistical evidence that popular musicians are not more likely to die at the age of 27.[22]

References in music

The theme is referenced in the song "27 Forever" by Eric Burdon, on his 2013 album 'Til Your River Runs Dry.[23]

The name of the song "27 Club" by letlive. off their album The Blackest Beautiful is derived from the club.[24]

Magenta's eighth studio album, The Twenty Seven Club, directly references the club. Each track is a tribute to a member of the club.[25][26]

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.[27]

On his song "Brand Name" from the album GO:OD AM, Mac Miller says "I'm hoping not to join the twenty-seven club."[28] Miller himself died on September 7, 2018, at the age of 26.[29]

The song "Colors" by Halsey references the club with the lyric, "I hope you make it to the day you're 28 years old".[30]

The song "27 Club" by Ivy Levan released as a promotional single for her debut album No Good released in 2015 is a reference to the club.[31]

"Uno" by Rex Orange County refers to the club in the last line of the song; "And every now and then I think about the fact that I'd become a legend if I died at 27."[32]

Adore Delano released a song called "27 Club" in her third studio album Whatever (2017). Delano was 27 years at the time of release.[33]

Identified members

Name Date of birth Date of death Official cause of death Fame Age 27 Club
references
Alexandre Levy November 10, 1864 January 17, 1892 Unknown Composer, pianist and conductor 27 years, 98 days [34]
Louis Chauvin March 13, 1881 March 26, 1908 Neurosyphilitic sclerosis Ragtime musician 27 years, 13 days [34][35]
Robert Johnson May 8, 1911 August 16, 1938 Poisoning (strychnine [unattributed]) Blues singer and musician 27 years, 100 days [34][35][36][20][37][21][38]
Nat Jaffe January 1, 1918 August 5, 1945 Complications from high blood pressure Swing jazz pianist 27 years, 216 days [34]
Jesse Belvin December 15, 1932 February 6, 1960 Traffic collision (car) R&B singer, pianist and songwriter 27 years, 53 days [34][35][20]
Rudy Lewis August 23, 1936 May 20, 1964 Drug overdose Vocalist of the Drifters 27 years, 271 days [37]
Joe Henderson April 24, 1937 October 24, 1964 Heart attack R&B and gospel singer 27 years, 183 days [39]
Malcolm Hale May 17, 1941 October 30, 1968 Poisoning (carbon monoxide) Original member and lead guitarist of Spanky and Our Gang 27 years, 166 days [34][20]
Dickie Pride October 21, 1941 March 26, 1969 Drug overdose (sleeping pills) Rock and roll singer 27 years, 156 days [40]
Brian Jones February 28, 1942 July 3, 1969 Drowning[41] (coroner's report states "death by misadventure")[42] Rolling Stones founder, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist 27 years, 125 days [34][35][20][37][21][43][38]
Alexandra May 19, 1942 July 31, 1969 Road accident German schlager vocalist 27 years, 73 days [44][45]
Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson July 4, 1943 September 3, 1970 Drug overdose (barbiturate), possible suicide Leader, singer and primary composer of Canned Heat 27 years, 61 days [34][35][20][37][21]
Jimi Hendrix November 27, 1942 September 18, 1970 Asphyxiation[46] Pioneering electric guitarist, singer and songwriter for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys 27 years, 295 days [34][35][20][37][21][43][38]
Janis Joplin January 19, 1943 October 4, 1970 Drug overdose (probably heroin)[47] Lead vocalist and songwriter for Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band 27 years, 258 days [34][35][20][37][21][48][38]
Arlester "Dyke" Christian June 13, 1943 March 13, 1971 Murdered Frontman, vocalist and bassist of Dyke and the Blazers 27 years, 273 days [34]
Jim Morrison December 8, 1943 July 3, 1971 Heart failure[49][38] Singer, lyricist, and leader of the Doors 27 years, 207 days [34][35][20][37][21][43]
Linda Jones December 14, 1944 March 14, 1972 Complications from diabetes Soul singer 27 years, 91 days [50]
Leslie Harvey September 13, 1944 May 3, 1972 Electrocution Guitarist for Stone the Crows and brother of Alex Harvey 27 years, 233 days [35][20][21]
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan September 8, 1945 March 8, 1973 Gastrointestinal hemorrhage Founding member, keyboardist and singer of the Grateful Dead 27 years, 181 days [34][35][20][37][21][38]
Roger Lee Durham February 14, 1946 July 27, 1973 Fell off a horse and died from the injuries Singer and percussionist of Bloodstone 27 years, 163 days [34][20]
Wallace "Wally" Yohn January 12, 1947 August 12, 1974 Plane crash Organ player of Chase 27 years, 212 days [34]
Dave Alexander June 3, 1947 February 10, 1975 Pulmonary edema Bassist for the Stooges 27 years, 252 days [34][35][20][37][21]
Pete Ham April 27, 1947 April 24, 1975 Suicide by hanging Keyboardist and guitarist, leader of Badfinger 27 years, 362 days [34][35][20][37][21][38]
Gary Thain May 15, 1948 December 8, 1975 Drug overdose (heroin) Former bassist of Uriah Heep and the Keef Hartley Band 27 years, 205 days [34][35][20][37]
Cecilia October 11, 1948 August 2, 1976 Traffic collision (car) Singer 27 years, 296 days [51][52]
Helmut Köllen March 2, 1950 May 3, 1977 Poisoning (carbon monoxide) Bassist for 1970s prog rock band Triumvirat 27 years, 62 days [34][20]
Chris Bell January 12, 1951 December 27, 1978 Traffic collision (car) Singer-songwriter and guitarist of power pop band Big Star and solo 27 years, 349 days [34][35][20][38]
Zenon De Fleur September 9, 1951 March 17, 1979 Traffic collision (car) and subsequent medical complications Guitarist for the Count Bishops 27 years, 189 days [53][54]
Jacob Miller May 4, 1952 March 23, 1980 Traffic collision (car) Reggae artist and lead singer for Inner Circle 27 years, 324 days [35][37]
D. Boon April 1, 1958 December 22, 1985 Traffic collision (van) Guitarist, lead singer of punk band Minutemen 27 years, 266 days [34][35][20][21]
Alexander Bashlachev May 27, 1960 February 17, 1988 Fall from a height, probable suicide Poet, rock musician and songwriter 27 years, 266 days [51]
Jean-Michel Basquiat December 22, 1960 August 12, 1988 Drug overdose (Speedball) Painter and graffiti artist; formed the band Gray 27 years, 234 days [20][37][21]
Pete de Freitas August 2, 1961 June 14, 1989 Traffic collision (motorcycle) Drummer for Echo & the Bunnymen 27 years, 316 days [34][35][20][37]
Chris Austin February 24, 1964 March 16, 1991 Plane crash Country singer and guitarist/fiddle player for Reba McEntire 27 years, 20 days [55]
Dimitar Voev May 21, 1965 September 5, 1992 Cancer Poet, founder of the Bulgarian new wave band New Generation 27 years, 107 days [56]
Mia Zapata August 25, 1965 July 7, 1993 Murdered Lead singer of the Gits 27 years, 316 days [34][35]
Reggie Lewis November 21, 1965 July 27, 1993 Cardiac arrest Boston Celtics (#35) small forward 27 years, 248 days [57]
Kurt Cobain February 20, 1967 April 5, 1994 c. Suicide by gunshot[58] Founding member, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for Nirvana 27 years, 44 days c. [34][35][20][37][21][48][38]
Kristen Pfaff May 26, 1967 June 16, 1994 Drug overdose (heroin) Bass guitarist for Hole and Janitor Joe 27 years, 21 days [34][35][20][37][21]
Richey Edwards December 22, 1967 February 1, 1995 Disappeared; officially presumed dead November 23, 2008 Lyricist and guitarist for Manic Street Preachers 27 years, 41 days [34][20][21]
Stretch April 8, 1968 November 30, 1995 Murdered Rapper 27 years, 236 days [59][60]
Fat Pat December 4, 1970 February 3, 1998 Murdered American rapper and member of Screwed Up Click 27 years, 61 days [34][35]
Freaky Tah May 14, 1971 March 28, 1999 Murdered American rapper and member of the hip hop group Lost Boyz 27 years, 318 days [34]
Kami February 1, 1972 June 21, 1999 Subarachnoid hemorrhage Drummer for Malice Mizer 27 years, 140 days [61]
Rodrigo Bueno May 24, 1973 June 24, 2000 Traffic collision (car) Cuarteto singer 27 years, 31 days [51]
Sean Patrick McCabe November 13, 1972 August 28, 2000 Asphyxiation Lead singer of Ink & Dagger 27 years, 289 days [34][35][20]
Maria Serrano Serrano November 26, 1973 November 24, 2001 Plane crash (Crossair Flight 3597) Background singer for Passion Fruit 27 years, 363 days [34]
Jonathan Brandis April 13, 1976 November 12, 2003 Suicide by hanging Film and television actor 27 years, 213 days [18]
Jeremy Michael Ward May 5, 1976 May 25, 2003 Drug overdose (heroin) The Mars Volta and De Facto sound manipulator 27 years, 20 days [34][35][20]
Pat Tillman November 6, 1976 April 22, 2004 Friendly Fire Arizona Cardinals (#40) safety and U.S. Army Ranger 27 years, 168 days [62]
Davor "Moskri" Bobić November 24, 1977 August 25, 2005 Drug overdose Original member and lead rapper of Prti Bee Gee 27 years, 274 days [63]
Bryan Ottoson March 18, 1978 April 19, 2005 Drug overdose (prescription medication) Guitarist for American Head Charge 27 years, 32 days [34][35][20]
Valentín Elizalde February 1, 1979 November 25, 2006 Murdered Mexican banda singer 27 years, 297 days [34]
Damien "Damo" Morris May 22, 1980 December 19, 2007 Traffic collision (bus) Member of Australian deathcore band The Red Shore 27 years, 211 days [64]
Orish Grinstead June 2, 1980 April 20, 2008 Kidney failure Founding member of the R&B group 702 27 years, 323 days [65]
Elizabeth "Bispy" Amirian January 20, 1982 February 12, 2009 Murdered Singer-songwriter 27 years, 23 days [64]
Lily Tembo November 20, 1981 September 14, 2009 Gastritis Zambian pop singer 27 years, 298 days [35]
Nate Niec March 3, 1982 October 6, 2009 Road accident Bassist of numerous punk rock bands 27 years, 217 days [64]
Achik Spin July 1, 1982 April 17, 2010 Road accident Member of the Malaysian pop group Spin 27 years, 290 days [66]
Amy Winehouse September 14, 1983 July 23, 2011 Alcohol poisoning[67] Singer-songwriter 27 years, 312 days [35][20][37][21][43][38]
Richard Turner July 30, 1984 August 11, 2011 Cardiac arrest Trumpet player, collaborator with Friendly Fires[68] 27 years, 12 days [35]
Nicole Bogner March 22, 1984 January 6, 2012 Undisclosed illness Singer for Visions of Atlantis 27 years, 290 days [69]
Sahara Davenport December 17, 1984 October 1, 2012 Heart failure Drag queen, singer, television personality, and classically trained dancer 27 years, 289 days [70]
Soroush "Looloosh" Farazmand October 31, 1986 November 11, 2013 Murdered Guitarist of Iranian-American band The Yellow Dogs 27 years, 11 days [71]
Slađa Guduraš August 11, 1987 December 10, 2014 Road accident Bosnian pop singer and actress 27 years, 121 days [72]
Tomas Lowe December 5, 1988 February 13, 2016 Road accident Bassist for Viola Beach 27 years, 70 days [73]
Thomas Fekete July 1, 1988 May 31, 2016 Cancer Guitarist for Surfer Blood 27 years, 335 days [74]
Anton Yelchin March 11, 1989 June 19, 2016 Accidental blunt traumatic asphyxia[75] Actor, Chekov in the Star Trek reboot series, guitarist for The Hammerheads 27 years, 100 days [76][19]
Aaron Hernandez November 6, 1989 April 19, 2017 Suicide by hanging New England Patriots (#85, #91) tight end and murderer 27 years, 164 days [77]
Kim Jong-hyun April 8, 1990 December 18, 2017 Suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning[78] Lead vocalist and lyricist for Shinee 27 years, 254 days [79][80]
Fredo Santana July 4, 1990 January 19, 2018 Liver failure[81][82] American rapper 27 years, 199 days [83]

See also

References

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