Mix together celebrity, artistry, and a little bit of macabre, and you will have a conspiracy that will endure despite research disproving it time and again. The infamous 27 club – what is it, and who are its members?
Source - (The Lantern)
Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse – all of them have more in common than their music career. Behind the glitz and glamour, all suffered and all died of unnatural causes at the age of 27. It was the death of Cobain that led media to create the link between the troubled celebrities and their untimely death, and the attention to the 27 club revived after Amy Winehouse died in 2011. In 2017, the suicide of Korean music star Kim Jong-hyun, again brought attention to the club.
Though ‘membership’ of the club is determined only by public perception, all members hold some common threads – an overwhelming majority are musicians, though some, such as Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin and rugby player Aaron Hernandez are also counted. Almost all of them led troubled lives, surrounded in a haze of mental distress, drugs, and legal and social controversy that often haunts those in the throes of superstardom.
Source - (The Jesuit Post)
The intense interest and tragic nature of the club has also prompted official, scientific studies, which have found that on average, musicians are not at an increased risk of death at the age of 27. However, they are vulnerable in their 20s and 30s. The rational findings suggest that it is not the spiking in the number of deaths, but the way they are perceived, that actually led to the creation of the club. When Brain Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison all died at the age of 27 between 1969-71, the coincidence sparked a widespread conversation in the media. All of them were massively popular, at the height of their music success, and had died under unnatural circumstances involving drugs. The deaths were seen as a stark reminder of the dark side of the music industry then, and brought forth the troubling personal lives that were often a hallmark of musicians at that time.
It was the death of Nirvana member Kurt Cobain by suicide that finally sealed the 27 Club into public memory. Cobain’s mother was stated as saying ‘Now he's gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club.’ Though it is believed that she actually meant the club of their family members who had committed suicide, the wider public assumed she meant the 27 trio of Joplin, Hendrix and Morrison. Amy Winehouse’s demise from drug overdose again brought attention to the club, especially since she had expressed a fear of dying at 27.
Source - (Pinterest)
Though scientific evidence has dismissed the club as being statistically significant, the unusual and tragic nature of the club means that it still endures. However, just because the club doesn’t mean something numerically doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean something culturally – the overwhelming number of drug overdoses and occasional suicides are a grim reminder that even stardom cannot protect you from inner daemons, and speaks volumes of the pressure and loneliness that these performers face, who are often at odds with the larger corporate music structure that wrings them dry.