The Curse Of The 27 Club

July 3rd, 1969: Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones drowns in the swimming pool of his East Sussex estate September 18th, 1970: Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix asphyxiates on his own vomit, having taken a dangerous number of sleeping tablets

October 4th, 1970: ‘The Queen of Psychedelic Soul’ Janis Joplin overdoses on heroin in her Hollywood hotel room July 3rd, 1971: Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, suddenly dies of supposed heart failure, potentially the result of a heroin overdose April 8th, 1994: Nirvana front-man Kurt Cobain commits suicide following years of heroin addiction, illness and depression July 23, 2011: Chart-topping singer Amy Winehouse passes away, her blood-alcohol content more than five times the legal drink-drive limit ii) These six musical legends are united by a strange set of circumstances, that have earned them core membership of an apparently cursed group of stars: The ‘27 Club’

The curse of the 27 Club haunts the music industry, claiming the lives of successful artists at the young age of 27 Aside from the ‘big six’ listed before, famous names associated with the club include ragtime musician Louis Chauvin, soul singer Linda Jones and Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards ‘Forever 27’, a website dedicated to the myth, lists 51 club members, dating from 1892 to the present day The idea first emerged in the 1970s after the deaths of four 27-year-old superstars in the space of four years However it was the suicide of Kurt Cobain in 1994 that popularised it, after his mother mentioned the club in an interview

More recently, the death of Amy Winehouse reinvigorated the idea of the club in the public consciousness But were they really cursed? If we compare the lives and deaths of the core six members of the ‘27 Club’, there are many recurring themes All were incredibly successful and well-known artists All had troubled relationships with drugs and alcohol And every single death was considered suspicious

The general public and media threw accusations of murder at the stars’ managers, spouses, dealers and even contract builders Even more suspicious, is that many members apparently predicted their early deaths Three years before she died, Winehouse expressed specific fears that she was going to join the club She told her PA, ‘I have a feeling I’m going to die young’ Charles Cross’s biography of Kurt Cobain says that, aged 14, the Nirvana singer told a schoolmate that he would become a successful musician and then ‘go out in a blaze of glory’ like Jimi Hendrix

There is even a theory that Cobain deliberately timed his suicide to help this prediction become a reality Finally, there is the mystery of the white lighter Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix all had a white lighter in their possession when their bodies were found Perhaps the ownership of a white lighter generates bad luck? Despite the curse’s notoriety, studies have shown that there isn’t actually a statistical spike of musicians dying aged 27 Researcher Adrian Barnett took a sample of 1,046 musicians who achieved UK number one albums between 1956 and 2007

He discovered that only 13% of those who died were 27 The most common age of musician fatalities was 56 years old, counting for 23% of deaths Overall, there is no statistical evidence that 27 is any more dangerous an age for musicians than, say, 26 or 28

Nevertheless, Barnett noticed a trend of pop musicians facing a risk of death during their 20s that is two to three times greater than that of the general population This is probably due to the often-wild lifestyle and the pressures of exposure that goes hand-in-hand with musical success Nevertheless, the ‘27 Club’ still receives a lot of media attention It has inspired a number of songs, books and films, such as Fall Out Boy’s ‘27’ and 2008 film ‘27 Club’ Its popularity could be simply due to the fame of the musicians among the 27 cohort

Whether it’s due to coincidence or something more sinister, the legacies of members, from Jones to Winehouse, will forever be linked through their association with the ‘27 Club’

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