Dead at 27: Explore the mystery around the infamous 27 Club
From Kurt Cobain to Amy Winehouse, the “27 Club” is known in popular culture as a group of celebrities and musicians who have died at the age of twenty-seven from tragic deaths. Perhaps there is something more karmic happening, but who’s to know? Let’s dive into some of the figures associated with the cultural phenomenon of the 27 Club and honor the vast legacies that they have left behind.
Nirvana frontman & visionary, Kurt Cobain, was destined to be the voice for his generation known as Generation X (1965-1980). With foundational 90s songs such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Heart-Shaped Box” becoming international anthems for angsty teenagers, Cobain was a grunge icon.
As Nirvana grew increasingly popular, the immense pressures from touring and fame proved to be too much for the Aberdeen, Washington-born singer. In addition, he was having troubles with addiction and even married a fellow addict, wife, and singer Courtney Love of the alt-rock band Hole, who had battles of her own.
On April 5, 1994, Cobain took his own life by shooting himself in the head. Despite the official story, there are many conspiracy theories surrounding his death.
Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, raised in Los Angeles, CA, actor and photographer Anton Yelchin boasted an impressive resume during his twenty-seven years on earth.
Despite dealing with cystic fibrosis since he was young, Yelchin had over sixty-eight film credits. Most notably, he’s known for playing Chekhov in the Star Trek universe film franchise. From big blockbusters to low-budget indies, Yelchin worked with talented directors such as J.J. Abrams, Jim Jarmusch, and Nick Cassavettes.
He also had a penchant for photography and would take intriguing photos of random people and various friends in his inner circle. In 2016, just as his career was continuing to take off, a freak accident occurred where his Jeep SUV pinned him against a wall crushing him to death. His parents sued the Jeep Grand Cherokee company and reached a settlement in 2018.
Endowed with a soulful, gutsy voice, the “first lady of rock n roll” Texas-born Janis Joplin, was a unique gem of her era. Her soul had always been aligned with blues and jazz music, and even though she struggled initially to find success in the music world of the 60s, she eventually had a breakthrough with her hit songs “Piece Of My Heart” and “Pearl”.
She was unlike any other female singer of her time, with the ability to be vulnerable, raw, and raging at the same time. Unfortunately, Joplin danced with the drug and alcohol devil, often indulging in speed, amphetamine, and heroin.
Eerily enough, she died less than three weeks after Jimi Hendrix. After a short-lived singing career, she overdosed on heroin at Hollywood’s Landmark Hotel in 1970 in Room 105, which has since become a popular room to visit.
Hailed as the most influential rock n roll artists of the counterculture generation, Jimi Hendrix was a psychedelic superstar. He had four huge album successes with his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience and also achieved individual success as well.
However, he fell into habitual patterns with drugs and sex; his fame made him disillusioned with himself and life. Not only was this difficult enough to deal with, his manager was also a Mafia-connected member who worked Hendrix tirelessly and aided in his deteriorating health.
After choking on his own vomit in his sleep from taking one too many sleeping pills, Hendrix’s girlfriend found him dead in a London hotel room in 1970. Despite the highs and lows of his career, Hendrix was primarily a soft-spoken soul who strived for peace, making beautiful contributions to music and the world. His songs and lyrics will always remain in the hearts of the people he touched.
When she was only twenty years old, UK singer Amy Winehouse’s first hit album Frank was no. 3 on the British Billboard chart in 2003, launching her to critical and financial success. The “Rehab” singer’s sultry, powerful, and emotional vocals brought her widespread attention and a devoted fanbase.
After dealing with substance abuse issues for years, she became yet another musician who died at the hands of a belligerent addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol. Not only was her reliance on drugs and drinking getting the best of her health and wellbeing, so was her chaotic involvement with addict boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil.
Their relationship was toxic and she thrived in it, he inspired several of her songs, but with that dependence, she also grew more and more distant. Along with several botched rehab stints, Winehouse eventually took to vodka and drank herself to death at her London home in 2011. Perhaps, just like Kurt Cobain, she felt trapped in her own image and career – perhaps she felt like dying was the only way out.
The infamous 27 Club comprises one-of-a-kind talents that were taken from this earth far too soon. Whether it be overdosing, suicide, and bizarre accidents, these figures who died by excess, self-harm, or something more sinister, were lost souls who vastly contributed to an ever-changing artistic landscape across decades. Their departures from the world may be mysterious and freakish, but they will never be forgotten.