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. GG


    July 25, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. OldGoat

    Amy Winehouse had talent? Now that's definitely news to me.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bryan

    So many greats died at 27: Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Les Paul, Buddy Holly, Scott Weiland, Ike Turner, Bill Hailey, those guys in Lynyrd Skynyrd, that guy that played bass on that one song, Shecky Greene, Milton Berle, me... So sad. Don't do drugs!

    July 25, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • 12bdrumer

      FYI, John Lennon was 40 & Elvis was 42 I believe........

      July 25, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • brrryce

      LOL. Don't forget Michael Jackson and Lena Horne.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      ha, post of the day. Didn't Ike die in his 70s? I guess when I saw that STP tour recently, that was Scott Weiland's clone up there.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      And Scott Weiland is still alive.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • hippypoet

      you so a moron and need to shut your very dumb mouth.... no one you mentioned died at 27.... and the folks from Lynyrd Skynyrd died in a plane crash..... you could have mentioned stevie ray vaughn, dude died at 27 but in a crash, however he did do alot of delicious drugs.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • earthtourist

      hippy... methinks that was satire. Back away from the bong.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. Hello


    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. Help me figure this out people.....Need help...laughing to hard this person is a loser like AW

    July 25, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Doc Holiday

      so, you think hits DO gauge musical talent? Well, she won 5 grammys.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nora

    Winehouse does NOT belong on the list, she was a mediocre performer with one sad hit song that people will recognize. Sure she was pretty good, but not a legend! Sorry, no sympathy for her, but I do feel for her parents! Condolences!

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

      Shut up and go back to India you curry eating SOB.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. kc


    Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin were Great Musicians who died at age 27.

    Amy winehouse, that rapper mentioned, and kurt cobain died at age 27 who happened to be musicians.

    There is A DIFFERENCE. Dont start lumping every musician who happened to die at the age of 27 into that club. Or worse yet–elevate these nobody musicians status to a "27 club" just because they happen to die at that age!

    July 25, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lisa

    Was Amy Winehouse one of the greats? Only time will tell. Other than her die-hard fans, will people still be listening to her music 40 years from now?

    July 25, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason Frazier

      If her name gets mentioned at all in 40 years it will be for her ridiculous antics and drug addiction. Not music...

      July 25, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. bob

    I got married at 27. You can say I died that day given who I married.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • humble horrace

      I bet you're gay.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  9. lyn jones

    Sad all these music entertainers passed at an early age.
    ONE REASON I AM AGAINST LEGALIZING DRUGS, AN INSANE IDEA PROMOTED AND HEAVILY FUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO WANT TO INVEST IN THIS BUSINESS. One of my siblings was a long time drug user and lost the use of their kidneys, and had two open heart surgeries, and also brain and nerve damage. War on drugs like anyother crime cannot be wipe out, but to legalize drugs is suicidal, and so many teens will get their hands on it.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Doc Holiday

      Portugal's drug policy= not suicidal.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason Frazier

      So because your sibling couldn't practice self control that's everyone else's fault and certain drugs shouldn't be legalized? This country could make a fortune on weed alone.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. Hello

    Amy wanted to help Janis find Bobby Magee. They thing she might have a new needle...

    July 25, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. hippypoet

    ok , this is very very sad, amy is a sad creation of the world we live in now. there aren't many artist who still play tunes – they yell into a mic and make rythms that are crap, rythms that others hahve made before them. the difference here is not that amy was not good, maybe she was. the difference here is that she was never great and was never going to reach that high. she got boo-ed off the stage due to being a little drunk. are you kidding me? all these great people were masters in there realm, she was still mastering being drunk in public. jim was not only drunk and high but was tripping out on acid nearly all the time. jimi was tripped out, no way around that, his red band arond his head was soaked in lsd so when he sweats it drips into his face and goes into his skin to make him more tripped out! WHILE DRUNK, while high, while playing AND SINGING, did amy play anything besides the camera guy? these people wrote poetry in song, she wrote about having a bad day. the songs of today are junk when compared to the songs of yesterday, rap is crap, has been for awhile, so is hip hop.... someone awhile back went off and told abunch of talentless losers that they could do what has been done before them. they lied! they got others to write songs and machines to create music.... this is not talent, this is having a pretty voice....aka shut up, maybe if someone close to amy told her that she was cute sure, but lacking talent...maybe she would have gone to school and become something. like all the other talentless losers who all the current pop stars save afew truly talented folks. i personally am a poet and playwrite, i take great pleasure in creating, and i am very good at it! some people should leave it to the ones who can handle the life, drugs, drepression... its all part of it!

    July 25, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • jellomundo

      @Hippypoet drugs and depression are NOT necessary components of musical talent. Come off that! Jimi Hendrix was and still is unrivaled. Kurt Cobain was a pioneer. I still remember where I was when I heard of his death. Amy is definitely one of the greats. I was never a fan of how she chose to live her life, but it undeniably contributed to her songwriting and the soulfulness of her singing, so it made her who she was. Her voice was a fresh welcome from all the cookie cutter songs being pushed by the industry. I will remain a fan of her music.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. ad1lap

    She might not be a legend now! None of these people were "Legends" until they died! Janis Joplin being included as a legend is laughable! She was just as washed up as Whinehouse! And her voice sucked. I'm pretty sure they had the same amount of teeth though!

    July 25, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • hippypoet

      because you dislike the sound of her voice means she sucked as a singer? why is country music then still in existence?
      Janis, as washed up as amy...your dumb, plain and simple...amy had a hard time new to the fame, the boozes, and god knows what else...Janis, ate that for breakfast when she was 10! amy was a wuss, Janis was a brick wall of unknown anger and love. janis has experience, amy had a under 21 licences!

      July 25, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • ad1lap

      Hmmmm... I'm pretty sure they are both dead. If the Legendary Joplin could handle her drugs then why did she die of a "Heroin" overdose?

      July 25, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • hippypoet

      amy killed herself, on purpose....because life/drama, whatever was too much......janis was fu–ed up and thought she could do more then she could...both dumb, yes, but amy is sad, pathic, and will be forgotten faster then the years she lived, janis has already lived twice her years in death in fame... not due to her addictions but due to her talent... during her day, everyone knew of janis, today, i didn't even know who amy who untill i read up on her.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. JoeBoo

    @Bryan, Scott Weiland isn't dead. @CNN, Freaky Tah died in 1999, not 1995.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. humble horrace

    I would have liked to have humped Amy and still will if her body isnt yet too cold.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Not Impressed

    Winhouse does not even come close to Great!! Hell she was not even average. She did the drugs....She got what she deserved. No sadness here – just another alcoholic druggie bit the dust – big loss!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • humble horrace

      I bet you eat out of the toilet.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • ad1lap

      I ate outta the toilet once and I didn't die.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • hippypoet

      toilet water is cleaner then a dogs mouth and people let them lick there faces! and other places!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
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