This article contains opinion.
You would think that if the word “club” would follow something, it would be a very exclusive and fancy club, right?
Well this one is quite the opposite.
The 27 Club is comprised of legendary rock stars who passed away unexpectedly at age 27, leaving a musical cliffhanger on their legacies. Some notable names on the list are Jim Morrison (The Doors - 1971), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana - 1994), Amy Winehouse (2011), Jimi Hendrix (1970) and Janis Joplin (1970).
The “club” began in the early 1970s when four rock visionaries in Morrison, Joplin, Hendrix and Brian Jones all died within two years of each other. Morrison’s death was looked at especially due to the fact that his body was never seen following the announcement of his death.
Jones was the first to break on through in 1969 after a toxic mix of alcohol and drug usage led to his untimely passing.
With the most recent addition being Amy Winehouse in 2011, fans ask the question: “Why is 27 special?”
One could speculate that it would be because of their personalities, lyrics, mental states or even fame leading to their demises.
Let’s analyze the biggest names.
Morrison was a very influential part of the progressive rock movement in the 1960s.
With his sporadic stage presence, eerie tone and lyrical/poetic genius, he was a pioneer of the free-thinking movement. Always chanting to the crowds and singing about death, as he embraced the concept, Morrison was regarded as a preacher to the voiceless and a modern-day shaman to crowds.
This led to legal issues along with heavy alcohol and LSD abuse.
Morrison was found by his wife, Pamela, dead in his bathtub in June 1970 due to heart failure. What is often disregarded is that his manager, Bill Siddons, told pianist Ray Manzarek that he never saw Morrison’s body when he traveled to Paris, where Morrison went after recording the “L.A. Woman” album to write poetry.
But should we say that Morrison faked his death to escape the fame and to become a poet? Or can we conclude that drugs and alcohol led to his demise?
Like Morrison, Joplin's life was drug-fueled.
During a complicated relationship with her boyfriend, Joplin often took to heroin to escape the issues with her love life, which ultimately killed her in her hotel room in 1970.
She would often express her problems through her music as she had secret inferences to her boyfriend taking her for granted in her song “A Woman Left Lonely.”
The depression took a stronghold to her mental state, and she turned to drugs for sanctuary. However, it was drugs that took her life and her very young musical career.
Hendrix will go down as a musical god to fans all over the world.
Not only did he have the power to grab a crowd’s attention just by walking onto a stage, but he was innovative during shows, like the time he played a right-handed guitar left-handed while using his tongue to pluck strings.
But the Voodoo Child had a dark side to him. Comparing to Michael Jackson, Hendrix often found difficulty sleeping and became imprisoned in his own image.
He was prescribed the depressant, Vesparax, to help with his insomnia.
This drug could put someone to sleep for eight hours with only half a tablet. Hendrix was believed to have taken nine whole tablets, while combining it with alcohol.
His friend, Deering Howe, told Rolling Stone that “Jimi would take a handful of s**t. Not even knowing what it was.”
Another contributing factor was that he found his popularity in the psychedelic 1960s and 1970s when LSD was used more often than ever. Hendrix was prone to use LSD heavily, leaving his mental state deteriorated.
He was found dead Friday, Sept. 18, 1970, after an overdose on sleeping pills. Once again, drugs contributed to the death of a young artist.
Cobain’s death came unexpectedly in 1994 after he took his own life with a shotgun in his home.
Nirvana’s frontman was notorious for finding difficulty in dealing with his mental state. Before his death, he was going through a divorce with Courtney Love, his wife at the time.
He told his substance abuse counselor, Nial Stimson, that Love was trying to take the house from him, leaving him homeless post-divorce. Cobain, reluctant to the idea and without a convincing argument, shot himself as a way to let Courtney know that the house was his and she would have to take it from his cold dead hands, literally.
But could this have been stopped?
Stimson told Rolling Stone that “suicidal people tend to make a statement.”
How did Stimson not foresee Cobain pulling out all the stops to make sure he didn’t lose his home? He could’ve placed Cobain on suicide watch. Better yet, he could have worked to find common ground and tell him what he could have done to save his home and legacy.
Although it wasn’t a drug-related death, the fact that Cobain took his life to make a statement makes rock fans question what could have been done.
The most recent entrant to the 27 Club, Amy Winehouse combines the deaths of fellow 27 Club members Joplin, Hendrix and Cobain.
Winehouse was always trapped within her image as a star, and she was reluctant toward that fact. Additionally, her relationship with Reg Travis suffered multiple snags during their time together.
Being very closed about her mental state and personal life, Amy would find solace in drinking throughout the years. Realizing that it was taking an effect on her body, she claimed that there was more she wanted to do in life but couldn’t grasp the power and strength to do so.
Whether it was her epiphany of her deteriorating physical state or her being trapped in her music career, she sensed that life had one goal for her and that she was following it. She also didn’t have many resources to turn to as any close friends/relatives grew exhausted of helping her with her problems.
She seemed to be going through the motions at the tail-end of her life, really showing no personality when she would take to the stage.
Amy Winehouse’s life ended July 23, 2011, after she drank herself to death in her home. Rumors still speculate what made her drink so heavily.
Analyzing these big names, it would make sense to say that drugs dealt a heavy hand in taking the lives of these young stars.
But whether or not drugs were the main reason, one thing is certain: fame is more of a hindrance to some than a boost.
Mental states, personal lives and more were affected negatively once fame grew for these artists. If they hadn’t hit the big scene, could we say that they would be around today?
And most importantly, who could be next?