The 27 Club: The age that marked death for so many great musicians
From Amy Winehouse to Jimi Hendrix, there are many great musicians who had one tragic thing in common: Dying at age 27.
July 25th, 2011
06:53 AM ET

The 27 Club: The age that marked death for so many great musicians

As most people know by now, incredibly talented singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment over the weekend. She joins an unfortunate club of singers who led troubled lives, some who struggled with drugs, and died at age 27.

The so-called "27s" is part of the title of a book published a few years ago that examines the deaths of many of these young musicians and the tragic number they have in common.

Considered the greatest electric guitarist of all time and an icon of his generation, Jimi Hendrix died in London in 1970 at age 27. He was well known for boozing and drugs, though according to the London Telegraph, the autopsy on him found that he died due to choking on his own vomit but there was little alcohol in his system.

Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose at the same age in the same year.  Jim Morrison, at age 27, died in 1971. He would be considered a pioneer not just for his music but poetry.

An earlier guitar great, a man regarded as the one of the best blues performers of all time, Robert Johnson died in 1938 at 27. It's unclear how he died but reports have circled that a lover poisoned him.

The Rolling Stones founder and guitarist Brian Jones died at 27 of what a coroner reportedly termed "misadventure" in 1969. He was a musician with many talents, playing the harmonica, sitar and marimba. Jones left the band shortly before his death. He was replaced by Mick Taylor.

Kurt Cobain died at 27 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in Seattle, Washington, in 1994. The frontman for the hit making, grunge-generation defining Nirvana is the stuff of legend.

In 1995, Freaky Tah of the emerging rap group The Lost Boyz passed away at 27. He was shot in the head as he left a party in New York.

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Filed under: Music
soundoff (409 Responses)
  1. EJ

    It sad that a young woman died. But sorry, you can't put Winehouse in the same category as Hendrix, Morrison or Joplin. She was just part of the brat pack celebrity generation that is over promoted to the current generation. Video totally killed music. The idea that marketing could make anyone whose daddy owns the record company a star didn't help either.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Canine Humper

      Yes we can put Winehouse in the same category and will do so. EAT ME!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Gufmar.

      I was gonna say almost the same. Don't put her in the same category as Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin and Cobain. Yeah she was 27 but not at the same level.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • smokey

      If you think music is dead son, you need to listen to more music... maybe sans the pretentious stick up the a$$.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • STFDoor

      You are a fool. Open your ears.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. Olivehound

    Graham Parsons was 27 when he died. I had a feeling this was the case – I just checked. Freaky. It's like a formula one can apply to the tragically talented.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • gannon

      to bad Amy doesnt fall in this category

      July 25, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      It's Gram, not Graham. And for what it matters, he was actually 26 - just shy of his 27th birthday.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike T.

      Gram Parsons died at age 26.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • humble horrace

      Gram Parsons enjoyed having many hot dogs crammed in his mouth then he choked one and died. Im glad he is dead.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • meetoo

      Actually, Gram Parsons was 26–Phil Kaufman and Michael Martin turned themselves into the police on his 27th birthday (after they had hijacked and cremated the body in Joshua Tree).

      July 25, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. gannon

    Amy Winehouse was a quasi-musician and a joke to the music industry and was in NO WAY in the same league as these other great musicians. To even write an article comparing them to her is an insult the their memories!
    Everyone needs to stop it now and just let her be dead and let her family deal with her death.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Bmarie


      July 25, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Mimi

      Cobain was a whiner and Im glad he is dead.
      Joplin a drugged out liz and quite ugly.
      Whats a freaky tah and good riddance. We need more dead rappers.
      Morrison was pretty much done anyway.
      Page is a superior guitarist to Hendrix.
      Winehouse was a beautiful soul. A lost little girl with no one to give all her love.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. Hellspawn

    Winehouse doesn't even come close to the talents of Hendrix, Morrison, Cobain, and Joplin. They were legends, not someone who got boo-ed outta the stage during a show. But it sure was unfortunate for someone to die so young.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Doc Holiday

    "It doesn't matter much whether we're here today or not. I wake up every morning looking in the face of Death- & you know what? He ain't half bad. I think the secret ol' Death is holding is that it is better for some that's over on the other side. I know it can't be any worse for me. For some people, this world ain't ever gone be right."...............she may not be Jimi but she's won a lot of grammys. Didn't she write more of her own songs than Janis did?

    July 25, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Bon Scot

      Hell, aint a bad place to be!!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  6. Robert

    Well, I wouldn't compare Winehouse with Jimi, Jim or Janis....
    The other three were giants in the way of musical talent, lyrics and just plain rockin' compared with Winehouse.
    her music will be forgotten about almost immediately.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. Publius Novus

    Mankind is diminished by the death of most human beings, Winehouse included. But when did she enter the pantheon of music "greats?" I don't think that did or will happen.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • OldGoat

      I don't think Winehouse's demise diminished mankind at all. Her death was self-inflicted and no different in many ways than the death of an anonymous drug user in a South Bronx shooting gallery.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. Belarius Marek

    While it is sad that one died so young, I have to say AW was NOT a talented musician. She will never be among the greats. Her voice was marginal, her talent non-existent. Her only talent was getting into trouble and making a complete fool of herself. She tried to be Sid and Nancy rolled into one. The only reason she got on the map to begin with was that she dressed outrageously, and acted the same. Not talent in my book.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • humble horrace

      Stick your book up your ass where it belongs you know-nothing Shytpile.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. Fundies

    as soon as ai

    July 25, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. educatedguess

    like these morons, who want to step on the body of Amy Winehouse, knew what musical gift would sound like if it hit them in the ears.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Thing1

    Lots of people here that obviously never listened to anything other than Rehab. And just FYI: how many "hits" a person has is no gauge of their talent. Amy wasn't just a brilliant vocalist, she was a genius songwriter whose best music never saw the top 40.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Hello

      lol so what u r saying is (she Suks) got ya.....roflmao

      July 25, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. John

    We need to stop with this 27 Forever Club Nonsense. Reporting about it, and continuing this soft pop phenomena is irresponsible, and will only contribute to the death of more insecure people who buy into this nonsense. I'm 42 and my life has just begun; too bad so many others couldn't get beyond their excesses to claim the same prize. 27 is too young to die. This is nonsense.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • humble horrace life with coming out of the closet and knawing on your boyfriends rod.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Paulie

    Did she have talent? Sure.
    But a musical legend like others the article mentions? No.
    Twenty years from now she'll be a footnote in the history of music while the legacies of Hendrix, Morrison, etc. live on.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  14. angie

    I don't understand this 27 club. There are many great musicians who have either lived past 27 or died at a different age. Why are we looking for significance in this particular number?

    July 25, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. chig

    In is unfortunate, but please don't place her in the same category as the " greats."

    July 25, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
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