Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones and The Doors frontman Jim Morrison have two things in common. Firstly, their contribution to music is unparallel and both passed away at the relatively young age of 27 on the same day two years apart. On this occasion, we look at others in the music world who enthralled fans worldwide with their work and performances only to be spirited away at that age...
Brian Jones: The founder and original bandleader of the Rolling Stones was soon overshadowed by fellow band members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. This occured after the duo became a successful songwriting team. After developing a serious drug problem his role in the band steadily diminished over the years. This led to his ouster from the Rolling Stones in June 1969 with guitarist Mick Taylor replacing him. Brian Jones died less than a month later by drowning in the swimming pool at his home on Cotchford Farm in Hartfield, East Sussex.
Jim Morrison: Known as 'The Lizard King', Morrison is considered the most iconic and influential frontmen in rock music history by fans and critics alike. He was also well known for improvising spoken word poetry passages while his band 'The Doors' played live. His songwriting, baritone voice, wild personality and performances endeared him to music fans all over the world. Morrison died at the age of 27 in Paris, probably of an accidental heroin overdose. No autopsy was performed, and the exact cause of Morrison's death is still disputed. Some sources claim it was due to his heavy dependency on alcohol and drugs. His grave is located at Père Lachaise cemetery in eastern Paris.
Jimi Hendrix: Arguably one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, Hendrix, has earned a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame despite his career only spanning four years. Tracks like 'Purple Haze', 'All Along the Watchtower' (a Bob Dylan song cover), 'Voodoo Child', 'Foxy Lady' and many others have received iconic status in music and are still performed to this day. Jimi Hendrix's love affair with the guitar began at the young age of 15. While in the Army, he would apparently attempt to mimic the sounds of helicopters with his guitar. It was due to Hendrix's guitar-driven songs that contained lengthy solos that hard rock and later heavy metal music took shape in the coming years. The world's highest-paid performer, he headlined the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to his death on September 18, 1970 due to barbiturate-related asphyxia. Apart from his musical endeavours he was in the news for his violent incidents brought on by substance and alcohol abuse.
Kurt Cobain: The originator of grunge music and the Seattle grunge scene, American singer Kurt Cobain, gained popularity and cult status as the frontman of the band Nirvana. His band found breakthrough success with the song 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' from their second album 'Nevermind' (1991). Other numbers like 'In Bloom', 'Heart-Shaped Box' are popular till today with grunge music fans. Cobain and his band Nirvana are considered icons of Generation X. He was found dead at his home on April 8, 1994, in an apparent suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.
Janis Joplin: The American songstress passed away due to an apparent heroin overdose just 16 days after fellow musician Jimi Hendrix. Her body was found in a room at the Landmark Motor Hotel in Hollywood on October 4, 1970. Joplin was known as "The Queen of Psychedelic Soul" and "Pearl" among her friends. Apart from being a musician she was also a painter, dancer and music arranger. The track 'Me and Bobby McGee' was Janis Joplin's only number one hit. Other popular songs sung by her include, 'Down on Me', 'Summertime', 'Piece of My Heart', 'Ball 'n' Chain', 'Maybe', 'Kozmic Blues' and many more. Joplin was well known for her performing ability and was a multi instrumentalist. Her fans referred to her stage presence as "electric". She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Rock legends who faced a tragic death at the age of 27 have been listed as a part of a world wide movement called the 'Forever 27' or the 'Club 27'. The club has over 20 million fans across the world who come together to celebrate annually on June 27 as a tribute to these musicians and the legacy they left behind.
Curse or Coincidence?
Over the years what has fueled this 'statistical anomaly' further is the movies made about the myth and books that have traced the history of these musicians. In 2008, a movie titled The 27 Club was released to rave reviews that had a fictitious plot with a very central theme related to the protagonist's band mate who commits suicide a week after his 27th birthday. A book titled The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll hit stands across the world in 2007 and raised eye balls world wide. The book tracked the life of these legendary musicians and revealed to the world the deep dark secrets of their time - creating a world wide perception that their deaths at the age of 27 changed the way the world looks at rock music. Restaurants and pubs, music instruments and hotels around the world have been named after the Club 27 musicians.
- Inputs from Sheetal Sukhija