The Myth of the 27 Club

The Myth of the 27 Club & Six Celebrities Who Are In It

Image Source: Sam Winder

There most likely aren’t many stories that could be considered “addiction lore,” but the 27 Club could be considered one of them. For almost a century now, countless starry-eyed ingenues have packed up and moved to sunny California with the hope of becoming a famous movie star or a musician. However, Hollywood is not a place for the faint of heart or weak of will. Many people have been seduced by what one might call the “dark side” of fame, the side that involves the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll that these hopefuls end up writing songs about. It’s become tragically common for those caught in the underbelly of Hollywood to lose their lives in the process, becoming another casualty of celebrity.

The 27 Club is comprised of a number of such individuals who all mysteriously happened to meet their unfortunate end at the age of 27. Most of these individuals are musicians and more often than not their deaths are drug-related such as overdose, but there are several who were murdered, committed suicide, or died in a car wreck or some other unforeseeable incident. There have been numerous scholars who have researched what would appear to be a rather disturbing phenomenon, several books written on the subject, and even a film.

Physicians have investigated the significance of these mysterious deaths and a study published in the British Medical Journal concludes that there’s no measurable increase in the risk of death when a person reaches the age 27, but rather the number of deaths of individuals who are 27 years old indicates that there are similarities in their lifestyles that led them to meet almost the same demise. In fact, even though there are a number of celebrities who died at the age of 27, it seems to be little more than coincidence, especially since there seem to be many celebrity deaths that have occurred throughout their 20s and 30s.

Despite there being no singular reason why there are so many celebrities who died at the age of 27, the fact remains that it has been a common pattern among both movie stars and musicians.  Here are six of the most famous members of the 27 Club in the order in which they died as well as the details of their demises. You may notice that all six deaths can be attributed to substance abuse.

Brian Jones, Founder and Original Leader of the Rolling Stones

Born in a nursing home in Gloucestershire, England, in 1942, Brian Jones had a typical middle-class upbringing with both of his parents being interested in music and instilling the interest in him at a young age. After placing an advertisement asking musicians to come audition for his new R&B group, Jones began to collect the group that would comprise the Rolling Stones, playing their first gig together on July 12, 1962. He was seen as instrumental in the group’s early growth and initial success, being the promoter, the band’s business manager, and the creative director.

Over time, the other members of the group wanted to write more original music rather than play the covers that Jones preferred, resulting in him getting overshadowed. He eventually began to develop a serious drug problem. It was June 1969 when Jones was asked to leave the band he founded. He was found dead less than a month later after having drowned in his pool, an accident that’s thought to have been drug-induced.

Jimi Hendrix, Pioneering Singer, Songwriter, and Guitarist

Widely considered one of the most influential and celebrated musicians of the twentieth century, Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle and began playing guitar at the age of 15. Hendrix moved to England in 1966 and, after only three months in the UK, had three top-ten hits. He achieved widespread acclaim in the US with the release of his final album Electric Ladyland in 1968.

After nearly being convicted of heroin possession, Jimi Hendrix developed a reputation that associated him with drug culture, especially once it was known that he frequently got drunk and mixed alcohol with various illicit drugs. After spending an evening with a female companion who awake the next morning and found Hendrix unresponsive, he was shortly thereafter pronounced dead, having asphyxiated on his own vomit due to intoxication from barbiturates.

Janis Joplin, Groundbreaking American Singer-Songwriter

A Texan by birth, Janis Joplin grew up always craving attention and the spotlight, which exhausted her parents and siblings. After befriending a group of outcasts and finding a love for blues music, Joplin began singing with her friends for fun before deciding that’s what she wanted to do professionally. She cultivated a rebellious image, finding inspiration in the Beat poets as well as the female blues vocalists Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.

Around the time she moved to San Francisco in order to grow her budding music career, Joplin developed a drug habit and a particular fondness for intravenous methamphetamine. In the late 1960s, she was recruited into Big Brother and the Holding Company, which was growing in popularity among the hippies of the period. By 1970, she’d split from the group and started a solo career having played at Woodstock as a headliner. However, in October 1970 after missing a recording session, Joplin was found in her hotel room, dead of a heroin overdose.

Jim Morrison, Frontman and Lead Singer of the Doors

Seen as an icon of American rock, especially that of the 1960s, Jim Morrison was born in Florida and, due to his father being in the Navy, moved a lot throughout his childhood. After graduating from high school in Virginia, Morrison dove into the writing of many important philosophers and poets, especially influenced by Nietzsche and French existentialist philosophy. By 1965, he’d earned a film degree from UCLA and found inspiration in surrealist film.

While living a bohemian lifestyle in Venice Beach, Morrison wrote poetry that would come to be used in many of the Doors’ popular songs. After finding the other members that summer, Morrison and UCLA classmate Ray Manzarek started the group and named it after one of Aldous Huxley’s books. Morrison was notorious about partying and sleeping with his fans, even having three paternity actions pending against him at the time of his death. He was found on the morning of July 3, 1971, by long-time girlfriend Pamela Courson in the bathtub of their Paris apartment having died of a heroin overdose.

Kurt Cobain, Lead Singer, Guitarist, and Songwriter of Nirvana

Born in Aberdeen in 1967, Washington, Kurt Cobain’s mother was a waitress and his father was a mechanic. After a period of insolence, he was sent to live with born-again Christian relatives, during which period Cobain became devout and attended church services regularly and is the reason why much of his songwriting included religious imagery and references. Once he met Krist Novoselic, the seeds had been sewn for Nirvana.

Cobain chose the band’s name due to the Buddhist concept due to the connotations of being free from pain and suffering. The band released their debut album in 1989, which slowly accumulated success and resulted in what would become rigorous touring schedule. Cobain’s heroin addiction and marriage to fellow rocker Courtney Love were highly publicized, which led to Cobain feeling persecuted and feeling life his privacy was violated. This is thought to be a factor in his suicide in 1994, having shot himself in the head with a shotgun.

Amy Winehouse, Singer-Songwriter and Modern R&B Queen

Amy Winehouse was born in London in 1983 and grew up listening to jazz legends Ronnie Scott and Frank Sinatra. At the age of 14, Winehouse bought her first guitar and was writing music a year later. Her best friend at the time, soul singer Tyler James, sent out Winehouse’s demo, followed by her getting signed to 19 Management in 2002 despite their keeping Winehouse a recording industry secret. In 2006, Winehouse released Back to Black, her second album, which received universal acclaim and was nominated for five Grammy Awards in one night, a record for a female artist at the time. Throughout her time in the limelight, Winehouse had very public struggles with alcohol and drug addiction that at times threatened her career as much as her life. After her bodyguard tried to rouse her with no success, Winehouse was pronounced dead on the afternoon of July 23, 2011. The autopsy concluded that her blood-alcohol level was .416%, determining that the singer died of alcohol poisoning.

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. Our recovery specialists have helped countless individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders to receive the treatment they need. Don’t become another casualty of addiction. Call us today.