As a 27 club , and Club 27 or 27 Club in inconsistent demarcation a number of well-known musicians is called, who died at the age of 27 years. Rock and blues musicians in particular are counted as members .
It began with the death of Brian Jones († 1969), who became the first "member" of the club. In the early 1970s, the musicians Jimi Hendrix († 1970), Janis Joplin († 1970) and Jim Morrison († 1971) died. After the suicide of Kurt Cobain († 1994), the concept of "Klub 27" became well known. Since the death of Cobain, the “club” has been quoted again and again in dozens of music magazines and specialist journals as well as in the daily press. With the death of the singer Amy Winehouse († 2011), the "Klub 27" gained renewed attention. Other musicians are also occasionally added, for example Robert Johnson († 1938).
In the broadest sense, the club also includes other notable artists who died at that age; however, these do not count as "main members".
Several exhibitions have already been dedicated to the club, and in addition to the sale of merchandising products, novels, films and plays have also taken up the topic. Various theories and speculations entwine around the causes of early death and possible connections. Other sources refer to an accumulation of musician's deaths at the age of 27 as a myth, based on selective perception .
Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison died between 1969 and 1971, and also within a period of exactly two years due to the days of death of Jones (July 3, 1969) and Morrison (July 3, 1971). But in the general public no connection was made between the common age of death. The connection was noticed every now and then, but remained more of a side note. It was only with the death of Kurt Cobain, almost two and a half decades after the others, that the idea of Club 27 spread to the public. The Hendrix and Cobain biographer Charles R. Cross makes the growing importance of the media - namely the Internet , television and magazines - and an interview response from Cobain's mother jointly responsible for this. This had told a reporter for the Aberdeen newspaper The Daily World :
“Now he's gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club. "
“Now he's left us and joined this stupid club. I told him not to join this stupid club. "
Cross suspects that she was referring to Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison's common age of death, other authors share his view. In contrast, Josh Hunter and Eric Segalstad, authors of a non-fiction book on the "27ers", assume that Cobain's mother was referring to a tragic excerpt from the family history: Two uncles and one great-uncle of Kurt had all died by suicide.
The quote was published in the April 18, 1994 issue of Newsweek , distributed worldwide by the Associated Press , discussed by radio DJs , and echoed on internet forums and later on blogs . Theories developed here such as that Cobain deliberately chose to commit suicide at the age of 27 in order to be able to join the club.
Musicians of "Klub 27"
The "Klub 27" has not experienced a generally accepted definition since Cobain's death, so that different views exist as to who is among its members. Before Winehouse's death, the five other aforementioned musicians were usually mentioned, for example in articles in the daily newspapers Hamburger Abendblatt , Rheinische Post and The Daily Telegraph , the news magazine Focus or websites such as MSN , TMZ.com and UpVenue . Variations of this group have - to the exclusion of Jones - only four members or take on additional members , for example with Robert Johnson .
According to an alternative approach, all known musicians who died at the age of 27 are included. This age of death should especially common among successful musicians to various sources, but this is under investigation highly controversial.
Musicians who are usually counted as "Club 27"
The following six musicians are always or mostly referred to as members:
|photo||Surname||Date of death||Age||Official cause of death||Role in music|
|Brian Jones||3rd July 1969||27 years and
|drowned in a swimming pool,
exact circumstances of death have not been established
|Founding member of the Rolling Stones , guitarist and multi-instrumentalist|
|Jimi Hendrix||September 18, 1970||27 years and
|choked on vomit
after an overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills
|Rock guitarist, singer and songwriter|
|Janis Joplin||4th October 1970||27 years and
|Heroin overdose||Lead singer and songwriter for several rock and blues bands|
|Jim Morrison||3rd July 1971||27 years and
exact circumstances of death have not been established
|Singer, songwriter and video director for The Doors|
|Kurt Cobain||April 5, 1994||27 years and
|Heroin-influenced suicide with a gun||Singer, songwriter and guitarist from Nirvana|
|Amy Winehouse||July 23, 2011||27 years and
|Alcohol poisoning||Soul singer and songwriter|
More musicians who died at the age of 27
The list below provides an overview of a number of musicians who died at the age of 27 and were counted as Club 27 by various sources.
|Surname||Date of death||Official cause of death||Role in music|
|Alexandre Levy||January 17, 1892||unknown||Composer, pianist and conductor|
|Louis Chauvin||March 26, 1908||syphilis||Ragtime pianist and composer|
|Robert Johnson||August 16, 1938||unexplained||Blues musician|
|Nat Jaffe||August 5, 1945||high blood pressure||Swing pianist|
|Jesse Belvin||February 6, 1960||traffic accident||R&B singer, pianist and songwriter|
|Doug Watkins||5th February 1962||traffic accident||Hardbop bassist, founding member of the Jazz Messengers|
|Rudy Lewis||May 20, 1964||unexplained , possibly drug overdose||Member of the R&B band The Drifters|
|Joe Henderson||October 24, 1964||Heart attack||Gospel singer|
|Malcolm Hale||October 30, 1968||Carbon monoxide intoxication from defective gas oven||Member of the folk - pop group Spanky and Our Gang|
|Alexandra||July 31, 1969||traffic accident||Schlager and chanson singer, guitarist and composer|
|Alan Wilson||3rd September 1970||Barbiturate overdose||Founding member of the blues rock band Canned Heat|
|Arlester "Dyke" Christian||March 13, 1971||shot||Member of the funk band Dyke & the Blazers|
|Linda Jones||March 14, 1972||diabetes||Soul singer|
|Leslie Harvey||May 3, 1972||Electric shock from the microphone||Member of the blues rock band Stone the Crows|
|Ron McKernan||∗March 8, 1973||Gastrointestinal bleeding||Founding member of the rock band Grateful Dead|
|Roger Lee Durham||July 27, 1973||Riding accident||Member of the radio band Bloodstone|
|Wallace Yohn||August 12, 1974||Plane crash||Member of the rock band Chase|
|Dave Alexander||February 10, 1975||Pulmonary edema as a result of alcohol abuse||Bass player for the rock band The Stooges|
|Pete Ham||April 23, 1975||suicide||Member of the rock band Badfinger|
|Gary Thain||8th December 1975||Drug overdose||Member of the hard rock band Uriah Heep|
|Helmut Köllen||May 3, 1977||Carbon monoxide poisoning from running car engine||Member of the rock band Triumvirate|
|Debbie Weems||February 22, 1978||Drug overdose, likely suicide||Actress and singer in the children's show Captain Kangaroo|
|Chris Bell||December 27, 1978||traffic accident||Singer, guitarist and songwriter for the rock 'n' roll band Big Star|
|Jacob Miller||March 23, 1980||traffic accident||Lead singer of the reggae band Inner Circle|
|D. Boon||December 22, 1985||traffic accident||Lead singer and guitarist of the punk rock band Minutemen|
|Alexander Bashlatov||17th February 1988||Fall out of the window, unexplained, possibly suicide||influential representative of Russian rock music|
|Pete de Freitas||June 14, 1989||traffic accident||Drummer for the rock band Echo & the Bunnymen|
|Mia Zapata||July 7, 1993||strangled||Lead singer of the punk rock band The Gits|
|Kristen Pfaff||June 16, 1994||Drug overdose||Bass player of the grunge band Hole|
|Randy Walker||November 30, 1995||shot||Rapper known as "Stretch"|
|Patrick "Fat Pat" Hawkins||February 3, 1998||shot||rapper|
|Freaky Tah||March 28, 1999||shot||Rapper with the hip-hop group The Lost Boyz|
|Sean McCabe||August 28, 2000||choked on vomit after an alcohol overdose||Member of the punk band Ink & Dagger|
|Rodrigo Alejandro Bueno||June 24, 2000||traffic accident||Argentine cuarteto singer|
|Maria Serrano Serrano||November 24, 2001||Plane crash||Member of the pop group Passion Fruit|
|Jeremy Ward||May 25, 2003||Drug overdose||Member of the rock band The Mars Volta|
|Bryan Ottoson||April 19, 2005||Drug overdose||Guitarist of the metal band American Head Charge|
|Valentín Elizalde||November 25, 2006||shot||mexican singer|
|Damien Morris||December 19, 2007||traffic accident||Lead singer of the Australian death metal band The Red Shore|
|Orish Grinstead||April 20, 2008||Cancer and other diseases||Soul singer and founding member of the band 702|
|Elizabeth Amirian||February 12, 2009||raped and murdered by her fiancé||Singer-songwriter|
|Lily Tembo||September 14, 2009||gastritis||Zambian singer and radio host|
|Nate niec||October 6, 2009||Motorcycle accident||Bass player in the punk bands No Holds Barred and Das Maniacs, among others|
|Richard Turner||August 11, 2011||Swimming accident||British jazz trumpeter|
|Nicole Bogner||5th January 2012||illness||Austrian former singer of the symphonic metal band Visions of Atlantis|
|Kim Jong-hyun||18th December 2017||Suicide by carbon monoxide intoxication||South Korean singer of the K-pop band SHINee|
|Fredo Santana||19th January 2018||Cirrhosis of the liver from drug abuse||american rapper|
|Samson Wieland||November 9, 2018||unknown||Member of the hip-hop duo SAM and songwriter for Matthias Schweighöfer|
Other musicians from Club 27 who died at a different or uncertain age
According to various sources, Frederick Heath, better known under the pseudonym "Johnny Kidd", front man of the rock 'n' roll band Johnny Kidd & the Pirates , is counted to the wider circle of Club 27. However, Heath died in a traffic accident on October 7, 1966, almost three months before his 27th birthday. According to other sources, Heath had reached the age of 30 by the time he died.
Rolling Stone music magazine published a list that also included Don Drummond of The Skatalites , singer-songwriter Tim Buckley and Pennywise bassist Jason Thirsk . However, none of them died at the age of 27: Drummond committed suicide at 37, Buckley was 28 when he died of a drug overdose, and Thirsk was fatally drugged when he was shot.
Richey James Edwards , guitarist and lyricist for the rock band Manic Street Preachers , disappeared without a trace on February 1, 1995 and was also 27 years old. Although there are many indications of a suicide, Edwards could not be found to this day. On 23 November 2008, he was for " presumed dead (German:" presumed dead ")," explains . Based on the day of his disappearance, he is also regularly assigned to "Club 27".
Some non-musicians from other artistic fields who died at the age of 27 are also counted by certain sources as "Club 27" or at least named in parallel to those who died there.
- Georg Trakl (1887–1914), poet
- Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988), graffiti artist
- Jonathan Brandis (1976-2003), actor
- Dash Snow (1981–2009), photographer and artist
- Justin Mentell (1982-2010), actor
- Anton Yelchin (1989–2016), actor
- Benjamin Keough (1992-2020), actor
Similarities between the musicians
After Cobain's death in 1994, “Klub 27” in the narrower sense of the word - consisting of Jones, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison and Cobain - was often portrayed as a group of musicians who had a number of things in common. In addition to the age of death, the sources often mention the excessive lifestyle of the artists, their extraordinary musical influence and the causes and circumstances of the respective deaths. After Winehouse's death, she too was included in the analysis of similarities, particularly with regard to intoxicant abuse.
Special musical meaning
The musicians and their respective bands are among the most influential in rock history. Jones was the lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones , one of the most commercially successful rock bands ever. Hendrix's guitar playing had a lasting influence on the development of rock history. Joplin is one of the central figures of the hippie era. Morrison's band The Doors was style-defining for the 1960s. Cobain helped with Nirvana the grunge to its peak period and brought the indie rock to mainstream . The music magazine Rock Hard therefore called the band the "most important rock band of the 90s". Jeremy Simmonds, the author of Number One in Heaven: The heroes who died for Rock 'n' Roll , counts these musicians among the US-American heritage artists because of their importance : “ Someone who's made a real difference to rock'n'roll. Hendrix, Joplin, The Doors, Nirvana, The Stones - these are all bands and individuals whose music was truly great. "(German:" Someone who changed rock 'n' roll very decisively. Hendrix, Joplin, The Doors, Nirvana, The Stones - all bands and individuals whose music was outstanding. ")
Intoxicants as a common cause of death
As a common feature of these deaths, it is pointed out again and again in presentations by “Club 27” that they can all be traced back to the abuse of alcohol or other addictive substances. At Hendrix, harder drugs were initially suspected to be the cause of death ; however, it was later discovered that he had consumed alcohol and sleeping pills and had choked on his vomit. At Joplin, an overdose of heroin and alcohol was certified as the official cause of death. Cobain had killed himself with a shot in the head. However, the autopsy found sedatives and heroin in his body in such a high dose that it would also have led to his death quickly. The deaths of Jones and Morrison have not been conclusively clarified, but it can be assumed that drugs were involved in them too. Jones was known for his drug use and is believed to have taken alcohol and sedatives the night of his death as well. His drowning could be due to an asthma attack under the influence of these intoxicants. Morrison also used heroin regularly. His body was not autopsied only because the investigators were certain that an autopsy would confirm the suspicion of an overdose. Such an investigation was only required in the case of suspected murder. Instead, “heart failure” was succinctly recorded as the cause of death.
Murder theories and other speculations
Another connection that is regularly drawn between these musicians is death "under mysterious circumstances". While the officially established cause of Joplin's death is widely recognized, at least Jones, Hendrix, Morrison, and Cobain are openly discussing other possibilities. It is said that Brian Jones was murdered by contractor Frank Thorogood . According to Stephen Wolley's film Stoned , Thorogood stood on his deathbed in the 1993 murder. The case was then re-examined by the police, but the official cause of death was not changed. With regard to Hendrix, it is speculated, among other things, that he was murdered by his manager . In addition, Scotland Yard investigated again in 1993 with no result against the woman in whose hotel room Hendrix had died. There are several theories about Jim Morrison's death . The common starting point is the lack of an autopsy. Biographers, for example, raise the possibility that Morrison was the victim of a conspiracy or just faked his death. Various theories of murder were also developed on the death of Kurt Cobain . According to the most famous one - presented for example by Nick Broomfield's documentary Kurt & Courtney - Cobain's wife Courtney Love is said to be responsible for the death of the musician. In addition, the theory mentioned at the beginning is sometimes put forward that Cobain killed himself with the intention of getting into "Club 27". Indeed, Cobain knew that Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison were all only 27 years old and, as a child, had mistakenly believed that they had all died of suicide. As a 14-year-old, he told school friends that he wanted to become a famous musician and then kill himself like Jimi Hendrix. He later also stated that he did not want to turn thirty. These statements are used to support the theory. However, according to Cross, such statements are not uncommon for boys of this age and neither Cobain's suicide note nor his behavior shortly before the suicide point to Club 27. In addition, Cobain had made several suicide attempts before he turned 27.
Explanatory approaches for the number 27
Especially if “Klub 27” is understood according to the broader definition, which includes all famous musicians who died at the age of 27, the question arises why the age of death should be the decisive criterion for defining the group. This question is treated differently: On the one hand, it is claimed that it occurs particularly frequently with successful musicians; various theories try to explain this supposed peculiarity. On the other hand, the number 27 is interpreted as a coincidence; it is also possible to put together "clubs" with other death ages. In scientific studies, a statistically significant accumulation of deaths in 27-year-old musicians could not be proven. Club 27 is therefore a term mainly coined by the media.
Age of death theories
In descriptions of Club 27 it is regularly suggested that an exceptionally high number of important musicians died at this age. For example, Charles R. Cross said: “ [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. ”(German:“ [The] number of musicians who died at 27 is really amazing in comparison. Although people die equally at all ages , there is a statistical peak for musicians who die at 27. ”) There is no such statistical increase in the general population, only among musicians. And Michael Pilz wrote for Die Welt that Club 27 was not a myth, scientists had looked into it and found that pop stars would often die at 27 “purely statistically”. However, both authors do not give any figures or the statistics they rely on. A study by Liverpool John Moores University published in the British Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in 2007 found that rock stars die earlier than the rest of the population and that the probability of death is particularly high in the first five years of fame. In the 1960s and 1970s the difference was even greater than at the beginning of the 21st century.
Various assumptions have already been made about the cause of the death of many 27-year-old music stars. For example, the reason given is their excessive lifestyle, which is often associated with phrases such as " Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young " (German: "Live fast, love intensely, die young") or " Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll " (German: "Sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll") is circumscribed. World author Pilz concludes from this that musicians “either die at 27 of their occupational diseases or say goodbye to deadly habits” and then live significantly longer. The Rolling Stone supports this theory by stating that the causes of death of the musicians who died at the age of 27 are mostly "tragic": "Heroin, alcohol, sleeping pills or a crude combination of them."
Borwin Bandelow , a specialist in neurology and psychiatry, suspects that the borderline syndrome is the cause of the excessive lifestyle of many Klub 27 artists. This syndrome manifests itself primarily through impulse control disorders and often occurs together with self-harming behavior and suicidality . In addition, he sees a connection between this personality disorder and the age of death, as he observed in a study that borderline disorders reach their severest severity at an average age of 26.9 years.
In search of an explanation, Christian Koch consults the so-called Quarterlife Crisis for the British lifestyle magazine Stylist . With reference to a neuroscientist and psychiatrist as well as a quarter-life crisis specialist, he comes to the conclusion that this crisis of meaning that overtakes people in their mid-twenties has more of an impact on rock stars because they are less known to be outdoors. This leads to a low vitamin D level in the body, which makes musicians more susceptible to depression and thus to suicide and alcohol or drug abuse. Alternatively, according to Koch, it could also be a case of a self-fulfilling prophecy : Even the knowledge of Club 27 leads to fears and self-destructive behavior. The suicide rate is therefore increasing in people who receive special media attention.
Doubts about a statistical abnormality
To the same extent that explanations for the phenomenon of club 27 are sought, it is questioned whether there is any statistical peculiarity at death age 27. Ultimately, according to Cross, Club 27 could also be explained as a coincidence or, if you believe in it, as a curse . Hunter and Segalstad make it even clearer that, in their opinion, Club 27 is a case of legendary formation : In contradiction to statements such as Pilz's that Club 27 is not a myth, they called their book on the subject The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll (German: Die 27er: The greatest myth of Rock 'n' Roll ). In the introduction to this work they write: “ The 27 Club is a pop culture enigma, and for those who believe in it, it is a curse that ends the lives of extremely talented musicians once they hit the age of 27. ” (German : "Club 27 is a pop culture mystery, and for those who believe in it, it is a curse that ends the lives of extremely talented musicians as soon as they turn 27.")
To make it clear that the concentration on the number 27 could also be the result of coincidence, it is argued again and again that deceased music stars with a different common death age can also be grouped. Cross mentions Lester Bangs , Bon Scott from AC / DC and Blind Lemon Jefferson , who all died at the age of 33, as well as DJ Alan Freed , Richard Manuel from the rock group The Band , Peter Tosh and Elvis Presley , all of whom are called “Klub 42 ”could sum up. Near misses are also often presented for Club 27, i.e. musicians who just missed the age of 27. In an article for the British daily newspaper The Times , Francesca Steele named Otis Redding , Paul Kossoff , Gram Parsons and Nick Drake , among others , who were only 26 years old. However, none of these groups received the attention that Club 27 receives.
A study at the University of Queensland in Australia , the results of which were published in late 2011, could not demonstrate statistical significance . There is a two to three times higher probability for musicians to die between the ages of 20 and 40, but for the exact age 27 there is no statistically conspicuous accumulation. Over 1000 musicians were examined who had at least one number one album in Great Britain between 1956 and 2007 . For each age, the number of musicians was initially determined as a basic amount, who on the one hand had already had a number 1 hit by this age at the latest, and on the other hand reached this age at all. Those musicians who died at precisely this age were determined from the respective base quantity. For the age of 27, this resulted in a base set of 522 musicians, of which 3 musicians or 0.57% deaths (namely Jones, Cobain and Winehouse). The analogous calculation showed - with 3 deaths in each case - a death rate of 0.56% at the age of 25 and of 0.54% at the age of 32, so no recognizable accumulation in 27. The authors of the study, however, show themselves the severely limited data material. Since Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison in particular did not have number one albums in the UK, their data was not part of the study.
Reception and commercialization
While the five key people in the club were already extremely successful artists during their lifetime, they became music legends posthumously at the latest. But not only the individual members, also the club itself achieved cult status over time . It is referenced in media and culture and commercialized for merchandising products such as T-shirts, posters or non-fiction books . In a paper published in 2010 hit list of the 50 worst things that can happen to the music of the American music magazine Blender took The age of 27 (German: The age of 27 ) eighth one. Fans dedicate websites to the club . Various exhibitions made the club their subject, for example the photo exhibition Forever 27 , which opened in 2008 in the London gallery Proud Camden, or the special exhibition of 2009 The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore - death and dying in rock music in Gronauer rock'n 'popmuseum .
Several fictional works take up the topic. The film The 27 Club premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008 . It revolves around a musician whose bandmate committed suicide shortly after his 27th birthday. Paul McComas' novel Unplugged from 2002 tells the story of the crisis of a rock musician who disappears at the age of 27 at the peak of her career. In May 2011, the debut novel was published 27 of Kim Frank , the singer of real , not to experience that portrays the anguish of a rock musician his 28th birthday. The cover of the book is adorned with likenesses of Jones, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison and Cobain. Ian Halperin's off-Broadway -Stück 27 Heaven shows how Kurt Cobain meets after his suicide in heaven Hendrix, Morrison and Joplin.
Club 27 was also a theme in rock music itself. For example, the single Out of Control by the Australian rock trio Tin Alley deals with the topic, as Jim Siourthas, singer and guitarist of the group, explained in an interview. The reason for writing the song was that Tin Alley drummer Peter Hofbauer almost died in a traffic accident at the age of 27.
In addition, various music stars have been reported to have voiced fears of dying at the age of 27. For example, country singer Gretchen Wilson said of the club that she was particularly happy to see more than 27 birthdays. The pop singer Britney Spears is also said to have expressed her fear to journalist Ian Halperin about dying like Joplin and Cobain at the age of 27. The British soul singer Amy Winehouse , who later actually died at the age of 27, is said to have confessed to her former personal assistant Alex Haines.
Club 27 was even used for advertising purposes. For example, the Term Life Insurance website advertises life insurances with reference to the deaths of the club.
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