For the Chinese, “4” is considered a taboo number as the number sounds like “death” in Chinese. And for the superstitious, “13″ is considered the unluckiest number. But for acclaimed musicians, that number is 27.
Welcome to the 27 Club, also occasionally known as the Forever 27 Club or Club 27, is a morbid moniker for the group of talented and influential but troubled performers who died at the age of 27. Its most well-known members are Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Brian Jones.
And now, tragically, the club has its newest member – Amy Winehouse.
Blessed with a uniquely raspy (but no less beautiful for it) voice and a vibe that made her come across both retro and progressive at once, Amy Winehouse stood out from other modern-day musicians, pioneering the way for artists like Duffy and Adele whose similar sensibilities and sounds may not have gotten attention were it not for the success of Winehouse.
In recent years, Amy was fighting a losing battle with drug and alcohol addiction. Her death was suspected to be from a drug overdose. Her fellow 27 Clubbers similarly struggled — and if their deaths were not directly caused by drug use, it almost certainly had a hand in them.
Amy left an indelible impression in music alongside some of the greatest artists we’ve ever known, troubles and all.
Jimi Hendrix – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (died 1970)
James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. He is widely considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in musical history, and one of the most influential musicians of his era across a range of genres.
After being turned down by The Rolling Stones, Jimi was introduced to Chas Chandler via Keith Richard’s girlfriend. They went on to form The Jimi Hendrix Experience a rock band that would revolutionize the genre forever. In 1969, he headlined the biggest music festival of all time, Woodstock. One year later, Jimi Hendrix was found dead after overdosing on pills and drowning in his own vomit (asphyxiation).
Brian Jones – The Rolling Stones (died 1969)
Lewis Brian Hopkins Jones (28 February 1942 – 3 July 1969), known as Brian Jones, was an English musician and a founding member of The Rolling Stones. His main instruments were the guitar and the harmonica, but he played a wide variety of other instruments. His innovative use of traditional or folk instruments, such as the sitar and marimba, was integral to the changing sound of the band.
He was originally the leader of the group, but Mick Jagger and Keith Richards soon overshadowed him, especially after they became a successful songwriting team. Jones developed a serious substance abuse problem over the years and his role in the band steadily diminished. He became alienated from The Rolling Stones and eventually, left the Rolling Stones in June 1969 to be replaced by guitarist Mick Taylor; Jones was found face down less than a month later in his own swimming pool.
Janis Joplin – Big Brother and The Holding Company (died 1970)
Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American singer, songwriter, painter, dancer and music arranger. She rose to prominence in 1966 when she became the lead vocalist of the psychedelic hippie rock band, Big Brother and The Holding Company, and later as a solo artist with her backing groups, The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band.
At the height of her career she was known as The Queen of Rock and Roll as well as The Queen of Psychedelic Soul. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Joplin number 46 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004, and number 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
She was renowned for her strong powerful vocals during a male-dominated rock era. Janis Joplin performed at Woodstock after having several shots of heroin and being highly inebriated. In 1970, she flew to Brazil where she cleaned up her act and remained sober for a while. She would later return to the US where her drug habits would resurface and ultimately, get the better of her as she died from an apparent heroin overdose in October 1970.
Jim Morrison – The Doors (died 1971)
James Douglas “Jim” Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) was an American lead singer and lyricist of the rock band The Doors, as well as a poet, a writer, and a filmmaker.
Jim Morrison would often improvise poem passages while the band played live, which was his trademark. He is widely regarded, with his wild personality and performances, as one of the most iconic, charismatic and pioneering frontmen in rock music history. Morrison was ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”, and number 22 on Classic Rock Magazine’s “50 Greatest Singers In Rock”.
The Doors had great success in the late 60s but Jim Morrison started to get out of control. He was constantly drugged or drunk and would oftentimes show up late for live performances. In 1971, he moved to Paris and a few months later, Jim Morrison was found dead in his apartment.
Kurt Cobain – Nirvana (died 1994)
Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – c. April 5, 1994) was an American singer-songwriter, musician and artist, best known as the lead singer and guitarist of the grunge band Nirvana.
Cobain was hailed as "the spokesman of a generation". Cobain however was often uncomfortable and frustrated, believing his message and artistic vision to have been misinterpreted by the public, with his personal issues often subject to media attention.
During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with heroin addiction, illness and depression, his fame and public image, as well as the professional and lifelong personal pressures surrounding himself and his wife, musician Courtney Love.
On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, the victim of what was officially ruled a suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. The circumstances of his death have become a topic of public fascination and debate. Since their debut, Nirvana, with Cobain as a songwriter, has sold over 25 million albums in the US alone, and over 50 million worldwide.
Amy Winehouse (died 2011)
Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was a British singer-songwriter known for her powerful contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres including R&B, soul and jazz.
Winehouse’s 2003 debut album, Frank, was critically successful in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Her 2006 follow-up album, Back to Black, led to six Grammy Award nominations and five wins, tying the record for the most wins by a female artist in a single night, and made Winehouse the first British singer to win five Grammys, including three of the “Big Four”: Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
Ironically, Amy Winehouse owed much of her popularity to her song Rehab which contained the lyric "They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no.'" After struggling with drug addiction, Amy Winehouse finally went against those same words and checked into rehab in 2011.
After a short stay, the singer checked herself out of rehab and began a new European tour. She was booed off stage after showing up at her first gig intoxicated and unable to remember the lyrics to her famous songs. Her tour was cancelled following the incident to give her more time to recover. She was found dead in her London home yesterday, just a few weeks later.