The 27 Club is a list consisting mostly of popular musicians, artists, or actors who died at age 27. Although the claim of a "statistical spike" for the death of musicians at that age has been repeatedly disproven by research, it remains a cultural phenomenon, documenting the deaths of celebrities, some noted for their high-risk lifestyles. Names are often put forward for inclusion, but because the club is entirely notional, there is no official membership.
The 27 Club includes popular musicians, artists, actors, and athletes who have died at age 27, often as a result of drug and alcohol abuse or violent means such as homicide, suicide, or transportation-related accidents. The deaths of several 27-year-old popular musicians between 1969 and 1971 led to the belief that deaths are more common at this age. Statistical studies have failed to find any unusual pattern of musician deaths at this age, comparing it to equally small increases at ages 25 and 32, with a 2011 BMJ study noting instead that young adult musicians have a higher death rate than the rest of the young adult population, concluding: "Fame may increase the risk of death among musicians, but this risk is not limited to age 27".
The "club" has been repeatedly cited in music magazines, journals and the daily press. Several exhibitions have been devoted to the idea, as well as novels, films and stage plays. There have been many theories and speculations about the causes of such early deaths and their possible connections. Four years before the BMJ study was published, Cobain and Hendrix biographer Charles R. Cross wrote: "The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27."
Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison all died at the age of 27 between 1969 and 1971. At the time, the coincidence gave rise to some comment, but it was not until Kurt Cobain's 1994 death, at age 27, that the idea of a "27 Club" began to catch on in public perception. Blues musician Robert Johnson, who died in 1938, is the earliest popular musician who has been included in the members of the 27 Club.
According to Hendrix and Cobain's biographer Charles R. Cross, the growing importance of the media—Internet, magazines, and television—and the response to an interview of Cobain's mother were jointly responsible for such theories. An excerpt from a statement that Cobain's mother, Wendy Fradenburg Cobain O'Connor, made in the Aberdeen, Washington, newspaper The Daily World—"Now he's gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club."—referred to Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison dying at the same age, according to Cross. Other authors share his view. On the other hand, Eric Segalstad, writer of The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll, assumed that Cobain's mother referred to the death of his two uncles and his great-uncle, all of whom had also committed suicide. According to Cross, the events have led a "set of conspiracy theorists [to suggest] the absurd notion that Kurt Cobain intentionally timed his death so he could join the 27 Club".
In 2011, seventeen years after Cobain's death, Amy Winehouse died at the age of 27, prompting a renewed swell of media attention devoted to the club once again. Three years earlier, she had expressed a fear of dying at that age.
An individual does not necessarily have to be a musician to qualify as a member of the 27 Club. Rolling Stone included television actor Jonathan Brandis, who committed suicide in 2003, in a list of "members" of the 27 Club. Anton Yelchin, who had played in a punk rock band but was primarily known as a film actor, was also described as a member of the club upon his death in 2016. Likewise, Jean-Michel Basquiat has been included in 27 Club lists, despite the relative brevity of his music career, and his prominence as a graffiti artist and painter.
A study published in the British Medical Journal in December 2011 concluded that there was no increase in the risk of death for musicians at the age of 27. Although the sampled musicians faced an increased risk of death in their 20s and 30s, this was not limited to the age of 27. A 2015 article in The Independent also provided statistical evidence that popular musicians are not more likely to die at the age of 27.
In popular culture
- The theme is referenced in the song "27 Forever" by Eric Burdon, on his 2013 album 'Til Your River Runs Dry.
- The band letlive. featured a song named "27 Club" on their 2013 album The Blackest Beautiful.
- Magenta's eighth studio album, The Twenty Seven Club, directly references the club. Each track is a tribute to a member of the club.
- The name of the song "27" by Fall Out Boy from their album Folie à Deux is a reference to the club. The lyrics explore the hedonistic lifestyles common in rock and roll. Pete Wentz, the primary lyricist of Fall Out Boy, wrote the song because he felt that he was living a similarly dangerous lifestyle.
- On his song "Brand Name" from the album GO:OD AM, Mac Miller raps: "To everyone who sell me drugs, don't mix it with that bullshit, I'm hoping not to join the 27 Club." Miller died on September 7, 2018, at the age of 26; the autopsy revealed that his cause of death was an accidental overdose of fentanyl coupled with cocaine and alcohol.
- The song "Colors" by Halsey references the club with the lyric, "I hope you make it to the day you're 28 years old".
- Rapper Watsky references the club on his song "All You Can Do" with the lyric, "I tried to join the 27 Club, they kicked me out." The song then goes on to reference some famous members of the club, namely Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Brian Jones.
- The song "27 Club" by Ivy Levan, released as a promotional single for her debut album No Good (released in 2015), refers to the club.
- The song "Uno" by Rex Orange County refers to the club in the last line: "And every now and then I think about the fact that I'd become a legend if I died at 27."
- Adore Delano released a song called "27 Club" on her third studio album Whatever (2017). Delano was aged 27 at the time of release.
- Juice WRLD referenced the club on his song "Legends" where he says "What's the 27 Club? We ain't making it past 21." The song was dedicated to rappers XXXTentacion, who was murdered at 20, and Lil Peep, who died from an overdose at 21. Juice WRLD himself died at the age of 21 from an accidental overdose.
- The Pretty Reckless released a song titled "Rock and Roll Heaven" on the band's fourth studio album Death by Rock and Roll. The song is about the club and mentions explicitly in the lyrics Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. Taylor Momsen wrote the song after falling into a depressive state from the deaths of her producer Kato Khandwala and Chris Cornell, the latter of whom her band had opened for the night before his death.
- The Lemon Demon song "Lifetime Achievement Award," from their 2016 album Spirit Phone, includes the lyrics "Good luck getting into Heaven if you live past 27," referencing the 27 Club.
- In the 2016 video game Hitman, one of the in-game missions, Club 27, involves killing an indie musician who is celebrating his 27th birthday.
- Cartoonist Luke McGarry created The 27 Club comic series for MAD Magazine, debuting in their relaunch's first issue in 2018. The comics featured Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Robert Johnson, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain as paranormal popstars descending from Rock & Roll Heaven to save the planet with the aid of mortal medium Keith Richards. The series continued in subsequent issues until Potrzebie Comics (the section in which the comic appeared) was retired upon the magazine's 2019 format switch to the reprinting of classic articles for the majority of most new issues.
|Name||Date of birth||Date of death||Official cause of death||Fame||Age||References|
|Alexandre Levy||November 10, 1864||January 17, 1892||Unknown||Composer, pianist and conductor||27 years, 68 days|
|Henri Evenepoel||October 3, 1872||December 27, 1899||Typhus||Belgian Fauvism artist||27 years, 85 days|
|Louis Chauvin||March 13, 1881||March 26, 1908||Neurosyphilitic sclerosis||Ragtime musician||27 years, 13 days|
|Rupert Brooke||August 3, 1887||April 23, 1915||Sepsis||Poet||27 years, 13 days|
|Robert Johnson||May 8, 1911||August 16, 1938||Unknown||Blues singer and musician||27 years, 100 days|
|Nat Jaffe||January 1, 1918||August 5, 1945||Complications from high blood pressure||Swing jazz pianist||27 years, 216 days|
|Jesse Belvin||December 15, 1932||February 6, 1960||Traffic collision (car)||R&B singer, pianist and songwriter||27 years, 53 days|
|Rudy Lewis||August 23, 1936||May 20, 1964||Drug overdose||Vocalist of the Drifters||27 years, 271 days|
|Joe Henderson||April 24, 1937||October 24, 1964||Heart attack||R&B and gospel singer||27 years, 183 days|
|Rockin' Robin Roberts||November 23, 1940||December 22, 1967||Car crash||Original member and singer of the Fabulous Wailers||27 years, 29 days|
|Malcolm Hale||May 17, 1941||October 30, 1968||Poisoning (carbon monoxide)||Original member and lead guitarist of Spanky and Our Gang||27 years, 166 days|
|Dickie Pride||October 21, 1941||March 26, 1969||Drug overdose (sleeping pills)||Rock and roll singer||27 years, 156 days|
|Brian Jones||February 28, 1942||July 3, 1969||Drowned in a swimming pool; coroner's report states "death by misadventure"||Rolling Stones cofounder, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist||27 years, 125 days|
|Alexandra||May 19, 1942||July 31, 1969||Road accident||German schlager vocalist||27 years, 73 days|
|Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson||July 4, 1943||September 3, 1970||Drug overdose (barbiturate), possible suicide||Leader, singer and primary composer of Canned Heat||27 years, 61 days|
|Jimi Hendrix||November 27, 1942||September 18, 1970||Asphyxiation||Pioneering electric guitarist, singer and songwriter for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys||27 years, 295 days|
|Janis Joplin||January 19, 1943||October 4, 1970||Drug overdose (probably heroin)||Lead vocalist and songwriter for Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band||27 years, 258 days|
|Arlester "Dyke" Christian||June 13, 1943||March 13, 1971||Murdered||Frontman, vocalist and bassist of Dyke and the Blazers||27 years, 273 days|
|Jim Morrison||December 8, 1943||July 3, 1971||Heart failure||Singer, lyricist, and leader of the Doors||27 years, 207 days|
|Linda Jones||December 14, 1944||March 14, 1972||Complications from diabetes||Soul singer||27 years, 91 days|
|Leslie Harvey||September 13, 1944||May 3, 1972||Electrocution||Guitarist for Stone the Crows and brother of Alex Harvey||27 years, 233 days|
|Ron "Pigpen" McKernan||September 8, 1945||March 8, 1973||Gastrointestinal hemorrhage associated with alcoholism||Founding member, keyboardist and singer of the Grateful Dead||27 years, 181 days|
|Roger Lee Durham||February 14, 1946||July 27, 1973||Fell off a horse and died from the injuries||Singer and percussionist of Bloodstone||27 years, 163 days|
|Wallace "Wally" Yohn||January 12, 1947||August 12, 1974||Plane crash||Organ player of Chase||27 years, 212 days|
|Dave Alexander||June 3, 1947||February 10, 1975||Pulmonary edema||Bassist for the Stooges||27 years, 252 days|
|Pete Ham||April 27, 1947||April 24, 1975||Suicide by hanging||Keyboardist and guitarist, leader of Badfinger||27 years, 362 days|
|Gary Thain||May 15, 1948||December 8, 1975||Drug overdose (heroin)||Former bassist of Uriah Heep and the Keef Hartley Band||27 years, 205 days|
|Cecilia||October 11, 1948||August 2, 1976||Traffic collision (car)||Singer||27 years, 296 days|
|Helmut Köllen||March 2, 1950||May 3, 1977||Poisoning (carbon monoxide)||Bassist for 1970s prog rock band Triumvirat||27 years, 62 days|
|Chris Bell||January 12, 1951||December 27, 1978||Traffic collision (car)||Singer-songwriter and guitarist of power pop band Big Star and solo||27 years, 349 days|
|Zenon De Fleur||September 9, 1951||March 17, 1979||Traffic collision (car) and subsequent medical complications||Guitarist for the Count Bishops||27 years, 189 days|
|Jacob Miller||May 4, 1952||March 23, 1980||Traffic collision (car)||Reggae artist and lead singer for Inner Circle||27 years, 324 days|
|Masako Natsume||December 17, 1957||September 11, 1985||Acute myeloid leukemia||Actress||27 years, 268 days|
|D. Boon||April 1, 1958||December 22, 1985||Traffic collision (van)||Guitarist, lead singer of punk band Minutemen||27 years, 266 days|
|Alexander Bashlachev||May 27, 1960||February 17, 1988||Fall from a height, probable suicide||Poet, rock musician and songwriter||27 years, 266 days|
|Amar Singh Chamkila||July 21, 1960||March 8, 1988||Murdered||Singer, songwriter, musician, and composer||27 years, 231 days|
|Jean-Michel Basquiat||December 22, 1960||August 12, 1988||Drug overdose (Speedball)||Painter and graffiti artist; formed the band Gray||27 years, 234 days|
|Pete de Freitas||August 2, 1961||June 14, 1989||Traffic collision (motorcycle)||Drummer for Echo & the Bunnymen||27 years, 316 days|
|Finbarr Donnelly||April 25, 1962||June 18, 1989||Drowning accident||Singer with Five Go Down to the Sea?||27 years, 50 days|
|Chris Austin||February 24, 1964||March 16, 1991||Plane crash||Country singer and guitarist/fiddle player for Reba McEntire||27 years, 20 days|
|Dimitar Voev||May 21, 1965||September 5, 1992||Cancer||Poet, founder of the Bulgarian new wave band New Generation||27 years, 107 days|
|Mia Zapata||August 25, 1965||July 7, 1993||Murdered||Lead singer of the Gits||27 years, 316 days|
|Kurt Cobain||February 20, 1967||April 5, 1994 c.||Suicide by gunshot||Founding member, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for Nirvana||27 years, 44 days c.|
|Kristen Pfaff||May 26, 1967||June 16, 1994||Drug overdose (heroin)||Bass guitarist for Hole and Janitor Joe||27 years, 21 days|
|Richey Edwards||December 22, 1967||February 1, 1995||Disappeared near a common suicide site; later presumed dead||Lyricist and guitarist for Manic Street Preachers||27 years, 41 days|
|Stretch||April 8, 1968||November 30, 1995||Murdered||Rapper||27 years, 236 days|
|Fat Pat||December 4, 1970||February 3, 1998||Murdered||American rapper and member of Screwed Up Click||27 years, 61 days|
|Freaky Tah||May 14, 1971||March 28, 1999||Murdered||American rapper and member of the hip hop group Lost Boyz||27 years, 318 days|
|Kami||February 1, 1972||June 21, 1999||Subarachnoid hemorrhage||Drummer for Malice Mizer||27 years, 140 days|
|Rodrigo Bueno||May 24, 1973||June 24, 2000||Traffic collision (car)||Cuarteto singer||27 years, 31 days|
|Sean Patrick McCabe||November 13, 1972||August 28, 2000||Asphyxiation||Lead singer of Ink & Dagger||27 years, 289 days|
|Maria Serrano Serrano||November 26, 1973||November 24, 2001||Plane crash (Crossair Flight 3597)||Background singer for Passion Fruit||27 years, 363 days|
|Rico Yan||March 14, 1975||March 29, 2002||Acute Hemorrhagic Pancreatitis||Filipino actor||27 years, 15 days|
|Jonathan Brandis||April 13, 1976||November 12, 2003||Suicide by hanging||American actor||27 years, 213 days|
|Jeremy Ward||May 5, 1976||May 25, 2003||Drug overdose (heroin)||The Mars Volta and De Facto sound manipulator||27 years, 20 days|
|Davor "Moskri" Bobić||November 24, 1977||August 25, 2005||Drug overdose||Original member and lead rapper of Prti Bee Gee||27 years, 274 days|
|Bryan Ottoson||March 18, 1978||April 19, 2005||Drug overdose (prescription medication)||Guitarist for American Head Charge||27 years, 32 days|
|Valentín Elizalde||February 1, 1979||November 25, 2006||Murdered||Mexican banda singer||27 years, 297 days|
|Damien "Damo" Morris||May 22, 1980||December 19, 2007||Traffic collision (bus)||Member of Australian deathcore band the Red Shore||27 years, 211 days|
|Orish Grinstead||June 2, 1980||April 20, 2008||Kidney failure||Founding member of the R&B group 702||27 years, 323 days|
|Elizabeth "Bispy" Amirian||January 20, 1982||February 12, 2009||Murdered||Singer-songwriter||27 years, 23 days|
|Jade Goody||June 5, 1981||March 22, 2009||Cervical cancer||Reality-television personality||27 years, 290 days|
|Dash Snow||July 27, 1981||July 13, 2009||Drug overdose||Artist||27 years, 351 days|
|Lily Tembo||November 20, 1981||September 14, 2009||Gastritis||Zambian pop singer||27 years, 298 days|
|Nate Niec||March 3, 1982||October 6, 2009||Road accident||Bassist of numerous punk rock bands||27 years, 217 days|
|Achik Spin||July 1, 1982||April 17, 2010||Road accident||Member of the Malaysian pop group Spin||27 years, 290 days|
|Amy Winehouse||September 14, 1983||July 23, 2011||Alcohol poisoning||Singer-songwriter||27 years, 312 days|
|Richard Turner||July 30, 1984||August 11, 2011||Cardiac arrest||Trumpet player, collaborator with Friendly Fires||27 years, 12 days|
|Nicole Bogner||March 22, 1984||January 6, 2012||Undisclosed illness||Singer for Visions of Atlantis||27 years, 290 days|
|Sahara Davenport||December 17, 1984||October 1, 2012||Heart failure||Drag queen, singer, television personality, and classically trained dancer||27 years, 289 days|
|Soroush "Looloosh" Farazmand||October 31, 1986||November 11, 2013||Murdered||Guitarist of Iranian-American band the Yellow Dogs||27 years, 11 days|
|Slađa Guduraš||August 11, 1987||December 10, 2014||Road accident||Bosnian pop singer and actress||27 years, 121 days|
|Tomas Lowe||December 5, 1988||February 13, 2016||Road accident||Bassist for Viola Beach||27 years, 70 days|
|Anton Yelchin||March 11, 1989||June 19, 2016||Accidental blunt traumatic asphyxia||Actor, Chekov in the Star Trek reboot series||27 years, 100 days|
|Thomas Fekete||July 1, 1988||May 31, 2016||Cancer||Guitarist for Surfer Blood||27 years, 335 days|
|Shot||December 1, 1989||September 21, 2017||Diabetic coma||Russian rapper||27 years, 294 days|
|Kim Jong-hyun||April 8, 1990||December 18, 2017||Suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning||Vocalist and lyricist for Shinee||27 years, 254 days|
|Fredo Santana||July 4, 1990||January 19, 2018||Cardiovascular disease and idiopathic epilepsy||American rapper||27 years, 199 days|
|Benjamin Keough||October 21, 1992||July 12, 2020||Suicide by gunshot||Elvis Presley's grandson and son of Lisa Marie Presley and brother of Riley Keough||27 years, 265 days|
- 23 enigma
- Curse of the ninth
- List of deaths in rock and roll
- List of murdered hip hop musicians
- Saturn return
- White lighter myth
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