Losing young talent is the most tragic thing for the industry. And many musicians, actors and artists have died very young before their time. The 27 Club is an informal list that honors such young artists who lost their lives at 27 years of age.
The list initially included musicians but has since increased to include other artists as well. The list includes those whose lives were lost either due to drug overdose, suicide, accidents, or homicide. The 27 Club became a popular urban phenomenon when many well-known musicians died at 27 years between 1969 and 1971. Today we will take a look at some of the most famous names who are a part of this unfortunate list.
Described as ‘the first ever rock star’, Robert Johnson is known for his skills as a guitarist and blues singer. However, his death remains a big mystery since it was never reported publicly. Johnson died at 27 years of age in 1938. Experts clash over the cause of Johnson’s death. Some think that he suffered from congenital syphilis that led to his death, while others think he had Marfan syndrome. Many are also of the opinion that Robert Johnson was poisoned. However, like most of his life, his death is also a mystery.
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Founder of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones is crucial in the development of the music industry as we know it today. Unfortunately, Brian Jones died at just 27 in his Cotchford Farm home. Jones died due to drowning in his swimming pool. An autopsy revealed that his heart and liver were severely damaged due to drug and alcohol intake in the past.
Nicknamed Blind Owl, Alan Wilson is best known for his band Canned Heat. Alan Wilson was one of the biggest names in the music industry. However, he was found dead in 1970 near Bob Hite’s house. Wilson was found in his sleeping bag on the hillside behind Hite’s Topanga Canyon home. He died of accidental barbiturate poisoning. Although it is not certain whether it was a suicide or accidental death since no suicide note was found. Wilson died just 14 months after Brian Jones.
One of the greatest guitarists of all time and a highlight of The 27 Club, Jimi Hendrix’s death was a tragic one. He died in 1970 at the age of 27. Hendrix is said to have spent the last day of his life with Monika Dannemann. She is the one who later found him in her apartment in an unresponsive state. Hendrix was pronounced dead due to asphyxiation by his own vomit. Dannemann later said that Hendrix had taken nine of her prescribed sleeping tablets. Hendrix’s death comes just two weeks after Alan Wilson’s.
Another prominent name in the music industry, Janis Joplin is known for her songs like ‘Down on Me’, ‘Ball and Chain’, ‘Summertime’, and ‘Mercedes Benz’. The singer died at 27 years of age after an accidental heroin overdose. Joplin was found dead in her hotel room at the Landmark Motor Hotel in 1970. And thus she became a member of The 27 Club.
Jim Morrison is undoubtedly a big influence in the music industry. The singer is part of the Doors rock band. Jim Morrison was part of a lot of controversies throughout his life. He slipped deeper into alcoholism. His death was a big mystery since no autopsy was conducted. Jim Morrison made it to the 27 Club after he died unexpectedly in Paris in 1971.
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan
Ron McKernan suffered from a genetic condition called primary biliary cholangitis. The Grateful Dead band member had a drinking problem which led to his death. His health deteriorated due to alcohol intake and liver problems. McKernan died of a hemorrhage in March 1973.
The ‘No Matter What’ singer is best known as part of the rock band Badfinger. However, after Warner Bros sued the band’s manager, Stan Polly, Badfinger faced major losses. Pete Ham lost all his money due to Polly and with a new home and child on the way, he slipped into depression. Pete Ham took his life in April 1975. His suicide note blamed Polly for his death. The singer was said to have shown signs of mental illness in the months leading up to his death. The ‘Day After Day‘ and ‘Baby Blue‘ singer lost his life at 27.
Nirvana’s co-founder, lead vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter, Kurt Cobain died by suicide at the age of 27. Another big and tragic loss of the music industry, Kurt Cobain had been suicidal for quite some time after he was diagnosed with bronchitis and severe laryngitis. He attempted suicide previously but was saved. However, on 8 April 1994, Cobain’s body was found in his Lake Washington Boulevard home along with a suicide note making him a member of the 27 Club.
Amy Winehouse‘s death in 2011 solidified the 27 Club even further. Her loss was a tragic shock to the whole music industry. The ‘Rehab‘ singer was found dead in her apartment by her bodyguard. The official reason for her passing was due to alcohol intoxication. Winehouse had more than five times the permitted levels of alcohol in her blood at the time of her death. The tragic loss of the ‘Stronger Than Me‘ singer was felt throughout the music industry.
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