The 27 club is made up of a group of five main musicians who all tragically passed away at the young and unfortunate age of 27 years. In some instances the actual causes of death are shady and many theories and conspiracies have arisen, as in the case of Jim Morrsion and Kurt Cobain. Four of the five main members passed away within a two year period of each other, from 1969 to 1971 (two members actually died on the same day two years apart). However, one member, Kurt Cobain, died much later in 1994. Below I will give a brief overview of the life and death of each member in chronological order by date of death.
A founding member of the Rolling Stones, Jones was eccentric from the start. With his outlandish fashion boutique and famed hallucinogenic drug use, he was never meant to grow old. Even the name of his band was thought up haphazardly, taken from a song by Muddy Waters during a "spur of the moment" decision. He would appear on every Rolling Stones record until after he passed away prior to the recording of 1971's Sticky Fingers. However, as the Stones' career progressed more in the 60s, Brian would begin to contribute less and less due to both drug use and his all too true vision of losing his "leader" role in the band. On what would be last album he appeared on, Let it Bleed, he was credited with only minor auxiliary parts on just two of the tracks.
At around midnight of July 2/3, 1969, Brian Jones was found dead in his own swimming pool by his girlfriend, Anna Wohlin. She tells the story with Jones' heart still beating when he was removed from the pool, but upon the arrival of an ambulance he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Classic Album - Beggars Banquet/Let it Bleed
Jimi Hendrix is largely praised as being one of the best and most innovative guitarists in rock history. Combining classic blues techniques with new-found developments such as the utilization of feedback, Jimi's music sounded like nothing else before him. However, drug culture was also a big part of Jimi's rock star persona that he embodied so smoothly. Hendrix and his band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, were only in the music business for three years, releasing just three albums. However, Jimi would continue for his last year with an array of other groups and projects. Known for his live antics, Hendrix was as reckless as they came, even setting his guitar on fire on two different occasions just for the enjoyment of his audience. His use of the "drugs of the day" (LSD, Acid, Heroin, Marijuana/hashish) were just as famous as his music, one fabricated legend even stated that Jimi would slit his forehead before concerts and soak his headband in acid before putting it on during shows, giving him a psychedelic experience while he roared through the show.
Surprisingly enough, illegal drugs would not be the end of him. Instead, Hendrix, after taking a dangerous amount of sleeping pills, died from asphyxiating on his on vomit. This is the generally accepted explanation, however many theories have arisen such as suicide or foul play.
Classic Album - Electric Ladyland
The first and only female member of the club, Janis Joplin was an emotional powerhouse. Her singing with Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Full Tilt Boogie Band, The Kozmic Blues Band and as a solo artist is credited as some of the most powerful wailin' ever recorded. During her short-lived and fast-paced life she was also known for her live performances, appearing at venues like Woodstock, Winterland, and the Monterey Pop Festival over the course of a roughly six-year long career. As a kid Janis was always made fun of and was often the "outcast". And she still loved to fit into that role even in her pronounced fame. Her career was plagued with drinking and drug problems, and they would eventually get the best of her.
Her death occurred on October 4, 1970 in the (now renamed) Landmark Motor Hotel. She was discovered there dead by her then road manager John Cooke who had become worried after Janis failed to show up to a recording session. The cause of death was listed as a heroin overdose, alcohol is also expected to have been involved since Janis was a renowned alcoholic for most of her life.
Classic Album - Pearl
Now we have come to the last '69-'71 member of the club. The next member would not be included until many years later. Jim was one of the most artistic of the club, wanting to be recognized equally as both a poet and as the front man of his band, The Doors. Jim was definitely a sexual icon in his day. Onstage Jim would push his crowd to the limit by simulating masturbation or even momentarily exposing himself! Fans were amused, but the police were not. Throughout his life and career, Jim was a very heavy drinker. Even as a teenager, Jim admitted to drinking out of his father's gin bottles, then measuring what he had drank and replacing it with water. Though his band members would try to keep him under control, Jim refused to be oppressed by anyone.
Towards the end of his life, Jim became an exile, moving to Paris with his girlfriend (sometimes purported as his wife through common-law marriage) Pamela Courson. Writing poetry and trying to remain anonymous, Jim still would resort to heavy drinking and violence that he usually attributed to bouts with depression.
Jim's death is surrounded by controversy and his true cause of death isn't positively known, though the "official" reason is listed as heart failure. Some believe he overdosed accidentally on heroin after snorting excess amounts it, thinking it to be cocaine. Still others believe that Jim is still alive and that the whole thing is just an elaborate hoax since an autopsy was never performed. The truth may never be known and Jim's death has become a legend in it's own right.
Classic Album - L.A. Woman
Our last member of the club is none other than Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain. Kurt's childhood was plagued with problems, the most significant of which being his parents' divorce. From there Kurt would stay constantly isolated and only confide himself in music, eventually forming many bands before settling with Nirvana. Though their first album was commercially a flop, Nirvana's second album (titled "Nevermind") launched Kurt and the band to super stardom, much to Kurt's dismay. From day one of leading the biggest band on earth, Kurt hated the success and the constantly being in the public eye. This lead him to develop a heroin habit that would remain with him until his death. Through many rehabs Kurt progressively worsened and his wife, Courtney Love (lead singer of Hole) didn't do much to help since she supported a habit of her own. Kurt, just like Jim Morrison and Brian Jones before him, became more and more estranged from his band after the release of their third and final album.
Kurt Cobain's death is surrounded with just as much mystery as Jim's. Most believe that he died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head, that theory being supported by a suicide note that was found on the scene. Some claim that foul play was involved and that Courtney Love herself had Kurt murdered for a monetary gain, though there is little to no evidence to support this. However he went, Kurt is sorely missed and was a visionary in his own right.
Classic Album - Nevermind