Cover StoryEditorialsEditorial: The 27 Club

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The 27 Club

Dale Y the Green Guy

The history of music is replete with myths, rumors, scandals and substance use that makes it, on the one hand so appealing, and on the other hand, so deadly. It is with a combination of all these factors involved that we come to the 27 Club.

The 27 Club is not some fraternity, criminal organization or gang of derring do gooders, nope, the 27 club is the year in which many of the most celebrated music icons of the past century have passed away. Sure, you may have heard of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, all of which have been inducted into the 27 Club. But there are others that have gone before and since. This is not some myth or some wild hair theory, this is based on the fact that, for whatever reason, modern popular musicians have a difficult time making it past their 27th birthday. There is no race, color or creed barrier here, the only thing that these people have in common is their prevalence in the music industry and the fact that they passed away at 27 years old.

Take, for example, the great blues artist, Robert Johnson. One of the most influential blues musicians from the 1930’s, he was supposedly poisoned by a jealous husband after bedding the guys wife. Or how about Jesse Blevin. Nicknamed “Mr Easy” because of his easy music style. He gave the first concert in Little Rock, Arkansas, to an integrated audience, which was unheard of at the time. Hounded by death threats before, during and after the show, he died in a head-on collision shortly after the concert.

The great Brian Jones, one of the co-founders of The Rolling Stones, drowned in his swimming pool two weeks after he was dismissed from the band. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, drummer for The Grateful Dead, passed away from gastrointestinal hemorrhage, most likely brought on by years of excessive drinking.

Pete Ham, leader of the rock group Badfinger, committed suicide by hanging. Mia Zapata, lead singer of The Gits was murdered. Kristen Pfaff, bassist for the band Hole, died from a heroin overdose, and of course, Kurt Cobain, lead singer for the group Nirvana, suicide from a gunshot wound.

And it’s still happening today. Amy Winehouse, in 2011, joined the 27 Club because of acute alcohol poisoning.

Although this is just a sampling of some of those that have died, it is eerie to think that maybe, just maybe, the 27th year of life for a musician is cursed. Seemingly, if they can get past that, the sky is the limit, but for every new musician on the horizon, the 27 Club is calling, and you better beware!

Here is the legend Robert Johnson singing “Sweet Home Chicago.”

Curt Cobain and Nirvana with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” live.

Amy Winehouse and “Rehab.”

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