What is the 27 Club?

By: 
Steve Trevino
June 30, 2021

The 27 Club is a term that was coined after it became apparent that many famous people were dying at the young age of 27. These untimely deaths have, over the years, become a cultural phenomenon. In turn, there are lots of theories and cult-related stories thrown around as people try to find a link between these occurrences.

But is the famous 27 Club nothing but stories about high-ranking superstars who mysteriously died at 27, an age when so much was ahead of them?

Well, it cannot be a coincidence that some of the biggest names in art and music die at 27, or is it?

We look at the famous superstars who are members of the 27 Club and find the defining link of what has led to these early deaths.

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Famous Members of the 27 Club

While the 27 Club is an unofficial club as members do not have a common plan or register at an early date, it has brought together a remarkable team of superstars. Every member of this club is a legend, as they managed to attract so much attention and following while still alive. Even in death, they have continued to influence the masses as they were remarkable in their artistry and music.

Still, they all died in remarkably tragic coincidences that can no longer be ignored. Here are some of the top names in the 27 Club and an overview of what resulted in their deaths:

1.       Kurt Cobain

Rock n’ Roll has had its fair share of superstars who commanded a movement, and Kurt Cobain ranks with the greatest. Born on 20th February 1967, Kurt Cobain was the leader of the rock band Nirvana. He was responsible for writing the songs that made them a huge success. However, this success seemed to be the fading star that led Cobain to become more involved with drugs, a behavior he had picked up as a teenager.

A highlight that things were getting out of hand was when he was investigated alongside his wife, Courtney Love, for heroin abuse. Unfortunately, this was not the last of it, as Kurt Cobain was also struggling with depression. When he could no longer take it, he attempted suicide on March 4th, 1994 but survived. A month later, on April 5th, 1994, at the age of 27, Kurt Cobain successfully committed suicide after getting high on heroin.

It is after the death of Kurt Cobain that officially the term 27 Club came to be with his mother reportedly saying, “Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club.”

2.       Kristen Pfaff

The death of Kurt Cobain was supposed to mark a turning point for artists and musicians who died early from drugs, but this was never to be. Just two months after the death of Kurt Cobain, Kristen Pfaff, a member of Hole (Courtney Love’s band), died of a heroin overdose. She was only 27 and was among the mourners at Kurt Cobain’s Seattle memorial.

3.       Brian Jones

The official cause of death for Brian Jones at the age of 27 was reported as drowning in a swimming pool. Nevertheless, this does not sum up what contributed to such a young and talented leader of the Rolling Stones to such a tragic death. A behind-the-scenes evaluation reveals that Brian Jones had used a mix of alcohol and drugs before diving into his swimming pool.

4.       Jim Morrison

Born on July 3rd, 1971, Jim Morrison was a true talent who will forever be remembered as the frontman of the rock band, The Doors. While there was no question about how talented Morrison was, he had a serious alcohol and drug abuse problem.

It became such a big problem that he would show up for shows late, and his onstage performance became raucous. All this led to another tragedy for the Rock n’ Roll fraternity as in July 1971, Jim Morrison died of a drug-induced heart failure caused by a heroin overdose.

5.       Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin got famous by taking over the San Francisco music scene with her bluesy vocals during the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Sadly, even as her career rocketed and she blessed the music world with one hit after another, she needed some love. For Janis Joplin, her place of solace was in heroin and alcohol, a behavior that led to her addiction problem.

One lonely night while in her hotel room, she decided to inject herself with some heroin before going to the lobby for a pack of cigarettes. Janis Joplin would not live to use her packet as she hit her face on the table and fell to the floor.

This was another case of a heroin overdose to break down such great talent at the age of 27. For Janis, her failure to show up for a recording session is what led to questions on her whereabouts, only to be found dead on a hotel floor.

6.       Jimi Hendrix

Tragedy always seems to follow tragedy, and just three weeks before the death of Janis Joplin, the Rock n’ Roll world lost Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was rightfully described as one of the greatest instrumentalists in rock music, and he defied odds to become a superstar. Since he was left-handed, he learned to play the guitar upside down and, because of his outstanding talent, was the highest-paid musician at Woodstock.

Tragically, Jimi Hendrix, like many others before him, died early from drugs. As a superstar who had gotten used to taking drugs indiscriminately, it was only a matter of time before he messed up. On the 18th of September 1970, while at his girlfriend’s place, he took nine Vesparax sleeping pills. This was 18 times the recommended dose, and while his girlfriend found him unconscious, the paramedic could not save him.

7.       Rudy Lewis

Another sad day for the music fraternity was on May 20, 1964, when the world lost Rudy Lewis, the R&B singer for the drifters. At the peak of 27, Rudy Lewis, known for his mellow voice, was found dead in his Harlem hotel room. The cause of death was a suspected drug overdose leaving his fans “On Broadway,” just like his hit title.

8.       Ronald McKernan

Ronald McKernan, popularly known as ‘Pigpen,’ was among the founders of the Grateful Dead. Just like his bandmates, Ron did not escape from the allure of drugs and alcohol. While his mates preferred psychedelic drugs, he was a heavy drinker who first picked a bottle at the age of 12.

By 1970, Ronald McKernan was battling liver cirrhosis, and this escalated to a point he could no longer tour by 1972. In March 1973, he died of an internal hemorrhage and was found two days later by his landlady.

9.       Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat is popular as a graphic artist who defied the rules to create his own and thrive. The self-taught had a way of creating colorful art often juxtaposed with words. As a neo-expressionist artist, Basquiat attracted quite a following and became a celebrity whose every move was closely monitored.

Unfortunately, this bright star shining was cut short by being a temperamental artist and the excessive use of drugs. At one time he even claimed that he could use up to 100 bags of heroin in a day. The end was tragic for Jean-Michel as he died of a heroin overdose in August 1988 at his Manhattan studio.

10.  Amy Winehouse

Finally, a list of members of the 27 Club would be incomplete without the mention of Amy Winehouse. The British singer was a darling to many, thanks to her powerful voice and unique style of singing. The only hurdle to this extraordinary story was that the more she became popular, the more she got deeper into drug and alcohol addiction.

In July 2011, Amy Winehouse was found dead at her apartment, and the cause of death was alcohol poisoning. This was the closing curtain for the singer who had even had short stints at rehabs trying to quit alcohol and drugs. A total of three empty bottles were found at her apartment, and this marked yet another entry into the 27 Club.

Why so young?

Fame has always been known to overwhelm people. The sudden shift from a regular lifestyle into one where your actions are of interest to hundreds of thousands can easily become burdening. This has been the reason why many young people who get famous tend to pick up reckless behavior. The worst of these behaviors, alcohol and drug abuse among celebrities, has led to the tragic 27 Club.

A study released by the British Medical Journal in 2011 sought to understand whether 27 is a dangerous age for celebrities/musicians. This was in the hindsight of so much talk about the 27 Club, with many people concluding that it is the high-risk age when superstars give in to the negative aspects of their fame.

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But, the study did not prove this theory, as it found out that there was no peak in the risk of death for musicians at the age of 27. This means that the musicians who died were only affected by attributes affecting their lifestyle, in this case, alcohol and drug abuse.

The 27 Club is not a coincidence or a conspiracy.

For most superstars who are in the 27 Club, it is always evident that they died early from drugs and alcohol. These are not just numbers that affect those who are in art and music, but a concern of public health that needs instant attention. Overly, as more teenagers and young people get more access to drugs and become addicted, living past 27 becomes too challenging as opioid-involved overdose deaths become a reality.

Luckily, all these tragic stories can be made to stop by taking the right action today. Whether you are a celebrity or a young person still working on becoming a superstar, you can live a drug-free life. More Than Rehab is here to help you have a purposeful life, regardless of the form of addiction you are battling. Give us a call and let us help you walk a path free from the bondage of drugs and alcohol addiction.

888-249-2191

About The Author: 
Steve Trevino

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