The 27 Club
Yep, we all know the expression ‘live fast, die young, leave a pretty corpse’. Rock n’ roll is littered with casualties who embodied this aphorism, dying young by their own hand, at the hands of others, of booze, or drugs or even the odd bizarre gardening accident (Jeff Pocaro of Toto – we’re looking at you...) Amongst all these pretty young corpses, it seems as society we’re most fascinated by what Kurt Cobain’s Mum called ‘The Stupid Club’, those who died at 27 – many appearing to be at the peak of their creative powers and with their stars shining most brightly. These rock stars seem to retain their allure years, if not decades, after they die. They appear on t-shirts, posters, in fashion campaigns, in artwork, they get name checked in songs and books and the media feeds voraciously on them. Yep, they’re forever young.
Janis Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) A notorious party animal, the Big Brother & the Holding Company singer and solo performer died of heroin overdose in a Los Angeles hotel in October 1970.
Brian Jones (28 February 1942 – 3 July 1969) A legendary party animal and ladies man, he’d been kicked out of the Rolling Stones a few months prior to being found at the bottom of the swimming pool at his farm in East Sussex. Rumours that he met with foul play have been circulating for years.
Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) One of the greatest guitar players and performers of all time was found dead in mysterious circumstances in a London hotel room, it is believed he choked on his own vomit after consuming copious amounts of prescription pills and red wine.
Jim Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) The American Poet, Jim Morrison was found dead in the bathtub in his Paris apartment by his girlfriend Pamela Courson, supposedly dying of a heroin overdose. He'd apparently snorted the white stuff thinking it was cocaine. Because no autopsy was performed questions continue to be raised over his cause of death.
Kurt Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) Blew his brains out in the garage of his Seattle home in April 1994, his is one of the most analysed suicides of all time. Cobain quoted Neil Young’s Hey Hey My My in his suicide note.
Robert Johnson (May 8, 1911–August 16, 1938) The original bluesman and rock star, Johnson was also renowned for his boozing and womanising. He is believed to have been poisoned by a rival in Greenwood Mississippi in 1938.
Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson (July 4, 1943 – September 3, 1970) The Canned Heat drummer died in September 1970 of a heroin overdose in Topanga Canyon on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
Peter Ham (27 April 1947 – 24 April 1975) The Badfinger singer, apparently depressed at the path his career was taking and unhappy with his manager, hanged himself in April 1975.
Dave Alexander (June 3, 1947 – February 10, 1975) The Stooges guitarist had been kicked out of the band five years earlier for turning up to a festival too drunk to play. He was found dead with fluid on the lungs, linked to his excessive drinking.
Richey Edwards (born 22 December 1967, presumed deceased on or after 1 February 1995) – The Manic Street Preachers rhythm guitarist and lyricist checked out of a London hotel room on 1st February 1995 and has never been seen again. Police found his car in a carpark near a notorious suicide spot.
Pete de Freitas (2 August 1961 – 14 June 1989) The Echo & The Bunnymen sticksman died in a motorbike accident in 1989 while riding from London to their hometown of Liverpool.
Amy Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) A regular target of tabloids due to her problems with drugs and alcohol, she was credited with revitalising soul music and influencing the rise of female singers in British music. She was found dead in her apartment with results of her autopsy coming up inconclusive.
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