Neil Young once said “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” a sentence that would later be found in a suicide note written by Kurt Cobain. Kurt was the 5th member of the 27 club, a group of musicians who died at the age of 27. Today, with the passing of Amy Winehouse, she too has joined the ranks of greats like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and others who are part of this very exclusive club.
Jimi Hendrix – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (died 1970)
There was nothing about Jimi Hendrix that didn’t stick out; from his flamboyant outfits, to his left-handed guitar, or his use of amp overdrive. 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)
Brian Jones was the founder of a little known band named The Rolling Stones. While on the phone to secure a gig with a venue owner, Brian came up with the name “Rollin(g) Stones” by reading it off an album that was laying around. Their music consisted mostly of R&B covers and it wasn’t until Andrew Loog Oldham joined that they began shifting their focus to newer, more original material. This transition reduced Jones' role in the band which was further accelerated with his drug habit and alcohol abuse. He became alienated from The Rolling Stones and eventually, he was no longer a member of the band he helped form. One month later, he was found face down in his swimming pool.
Janis Joplin – Big Brother and The Holding Company (died 1970)
Janis’ big break came in 1966 when she became the lead vocalist of the psychedelic hippie rock band, Big Brother and The Holding Company. 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.
Keep reading to see who else is part of the 27 club.