On July 23rd, the news broke that Amy Winehouse had been found dead in her apartment. She was 27 years old. Quickly, conversation on social media sites turned to what is referred to as the “27 Club,” a group of musicians who all passed at the age of 27. Notable.ca pays tribute to the musical pioneers whose lives were cut short before their time.
The first member of the 27 Club, this blues musician has influenced modern musicians such as Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, and Brian Jones – who, coincidentally, is another musician who died at 27. In a modern version of Faustian legend, Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for becoming a great blues guitarist. Though accounts differ, it is commonly believe that Johnson died of strychnine poisoning in 1938. He was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
Hendrix is widely considered to be the best electric guitarist of all time, and his psychedelic music has had a genre-spanning influence in the years since his death. Known for his ability to play the guitar through his teeth, Hendrix was one of the famed musicians to play Woodstock in 1969, where he performed a now-famous rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. Hendrix died in London, England in 1970, a result of taking sleeping pills and drinking excessively.
As the lead singer, songwriter and video director for popular rock band The Doors, Jim Morrison’s death in 1971 came as a shock to many fans. Though an autopsy was never performed, Morrison’s death was ruled as heart failure and has fallen into the realm of conspiracy theorists who believe his death to have been suspicious. His grave in Paris has become something of a notorious tourist site and is fenced off and guarded from the destructive impulses of fans.
The lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for Nirvana was incredibly famous at the time of his death and has remained so to this day, as a new demographic of fans discover the music of someone who was once the voice of a generation. As his fame continues, so does controversy over whether Cobain was murdered, or whether, as is commonly believed, he committed suicide in 1994. Nirvana fans were extremely affected by his death, and many still observe the anniversary of his death.
Richey Edwards’ fight with depression was well documented, as was his fascination with the death of Kurt Cobain – yet his disappearance in February 1995 was a blow to many fans who were inspired by his music and personal struggles. Edwards rose to fame as the lyricist and guitarist for the Manic Street Preachers, a band that continued without him after his disappearance. Though no firm evidence was ever discovered, Edwards was officially presumed dead in November 2008.
Winehouse rocketed to fame after her single Rehab hit the charts in 2006, and she soon became well-known for her iconic hair, eyeliner, and distinctive voice. Yet, her very public battle with health problems, addiction, and her erratic behaviour soon overshadowed her obvious talents. Winehouse had recently canceled the remainder of her European tour, citing personal problems. The exact cause of her death is currently unknown, though speculation is heavy.