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. ry290

    Bradley Nowell of Sublime also 27...

    July 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ry290

      oops 28 🙂

      July 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • sbe

      nah, 28. its messed up to say but i wish he was part of it man

      July 26, 2011 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
    • ry290

      yea, he missed by like 3 months...

      July 26, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Lolagcx

    Ummm ... Robert Johnson was also 27. Is he left out because he died in 1938 or because he made a deal at the crossroads.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      It mentions him...are you only skimming the article or something?

      July 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lolagcx

      Oops, appears I did only skim the article ...

      July 26, 2011 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. Smurfeater

    Yes, many amazing musicians died at age 27, Amy Winehouse was not one of them.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephy G.

      YES!!! Thank you!!!

      July 27, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Osiris3231

      I'm 100% with you on this Smurfeater. She doesn't deserve the coverage she's gotten.

      July 27, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tonia

      It surprises me that a lot of people say this, but don't blink an eye at Janis Joplin being on the list. Amy Winehouse was every bit as talented as Janis. She had an amazing voice. Janis had volume. The only difference is that Janis died a long time ago (before many of you were born), so she's considered legendary. She screamed and moaned. Amy sang, and sang beautifully.

      July 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Numyorangay

    Numerological 27 is a nine, endings. . .marriages, lives, etc. Random.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Caveman

    Me like Jimi.. me not like when Jimi burn Jimi club or Jimi's jimmy.. Not good way to take care of club or jimmy.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. Fred XL19

    Good question. Why does the CIA pick 27 as the age at which to knock off the rock stars they hate? And why not Cilla Black? Maybe they knew she was a conservative. Maybe they thought Amy would talk about the London heroin industry. In Europe, it all comes from Afghanistan. Thanks, Amerika.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
    • donkey

      wow ok so the US had what to do with her being an addict?

      July 26, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • michael mercier

      The cia can not find its own ass with two hands and someone else holding a flashlight on it.

      Killing musicians is far beyond their concern or capability.

      I read somewhere that Jim Morison died at 27.

      July 27, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. nick

    this is another great article on the subject...

    July 27, 2011 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Osiris3231

    "As most people know by now, incredibly talented singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment over the weekend."

    I don't know where you got the idea that this train-wreck was even remotely talented. Nor do I understand why you would put her in the same category of greatness with Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison, among others. I must have missed the memo that said screeching that "they tried to make me go to rehab and I said No! No! No!" made someone talented. Maybe if she listened to them she'd still be here.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rebecca Davis

    Another seminal musician who died at age 27, though not so famous by name, is Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson, cofounder of Canned Heat. He passed away on September 3, 1970, just prior to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Those interested in learning more about Wilson's life and mysterious death are invited to check out my book at, and also the tribute website established by his family, at

    August 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nacho Sanz Pastor

    Did Jimi and Cobain ever meet each other?

    April 29, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. ezrafreeman

    D. Boon RIP forever– a great songwriter and guitarist, one of my all-time faves. Died way too young, but at least we have Double Nickles on the Dime!

    February 21, 2014 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
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