The exclusive club that musicians have been dying to enter
The 27 Club is in the news again after the recent, tragic death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, but the term usually refers specifically to musicians – and, rather macabrely, infers a certain honour onto the type of musical maverick with a tortured soul who died while at the peak of their power. To narrow that down for you: the seven artists you’ll hear on today’s mixtape.
With this month's 27th falling on a Monday, we thought that we’d dedicate Volume 62 of our Mixtape to those who died too soon.
So then, why are deceased musicians who died at 27 forever embedded in the pop culture psyche?
Well, that’s to do with how in 1970 the First Lady of Rock, Janis Joplin, died of a heroin overdose, just two weeks after axman Jimi Hendrix overdosed on barbiturates and choked to death on his own vomit. After Jim Morrison died from a drug-induced heart attack a year later, the proximity of these deaths resulted in the idea of a 27 Club.
After consulting rock registers and obituary columns it was noted that the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones (drowned in 1969) and bluesman Robert Johnson (who was poisoned in 1938) also had the dubious honour of dying at 27 and became retrospective members. Kurt Cobain (a self-inflicted gunshot in 1994) and Amy Winehouse (alcohol poisoning in 2011) are the more recent members.
After his death, Cobain’s mother was quoted as saying, “Now he's gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club.” Amy Winehouse was said to have expressed a fear of joining the ominous club three years prior to her death.
So let's agree on a moratorium on new members, stopping Johnny-die-latelies from looking to join the exclusive club’s hallowed ranks, cynically seeking legendary status by association. Instead, the 27 Club can stay reserved for the seven musicians in our playlist, all exceptionally talented musicians whose groundbreaking music, larger-than-life personas, intense psychological pain and squalid deaths at the peak of their careers have immortalised them as cult figures. Happy Monday, and rock on.