Is there something about the age of 27? Something that has cursed so many musicians to die at that age? Perhaps not but one thing is for sure, it is very suprising to consider how many have. Here we will take a look at some of them and the story behind their demise.

*UPDATE 23rd July 2011*

Amy Winehouse joins list of musicians that have died aged 27.  For more information CLICK HERE

Image via Wikipedia

 

*UPDATE 23rd July 2011*

The following seven people all had two things in common. Firstly, they were all famous musicians. Secondly, fate took them from this world, in their prime, at the tender age of 27. They were not the only ones to be taken from this world at that age from the music stage but they are some of the most famous. Hopefully you will enjoy reading about these people who died at the age of 27, perhaps it may make you want to read further into their stories.

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Brian Jones

Died: July 3rd, 1969

Founder member of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones was a multi-instrumentalist and a recreational drug user. When Andrew Loog Oldham appeared on the scene as the Stone’s manager it marked a slow decline in the fortune of Jones within the band. From the beginning Jones seemed to be an outsider, travelling on different buses to tours, staying in different hotels. Over time alcohol and drugs would take their toll on Jones, he became anti-social and his health deteriorated. As the 60’s wore on and the Stones became more popular, Jones was becoming more distant from the band, although his musical prowess was still as strong as ever. He even found time to play saxophone on the Beatles song ‘You Know My Name (Look Up My Number).

It all changed by 1968. After being arrested for a second time on charges of marijuana possession it all seemed to fall apart. Before long, he would rarely go to recording sessions with the group; when he did turn up it was as if he had forgotten how to play, the band had to take drastic actions. They asked him to leave the band, although they gave him the choice of how to tell the public. It appeared out with the band that Jones had left voluntarily. Just after midnight, on the morning of July 3rd 1969, Jones was found at the bottom of his swimming pool not moving. His then girlfriend, Anna Wohlin, claimed that there was still a pulse when he was dragged out the pool but by the time the doctor had arrived nothing could be done. The coroner noted the death as ‘death by misadventure’, also noting that the liver and heart had become enlarged due to alcohol and drugs.

Was it misadventure or had some kind of foul play happened. Was it murder? 30 years after the event, AnnaWohlin claimed that Jones had been murdered by one of the builders that had been working at the house at the time. His name was Frank Thorogood. On his death bed, Thorogood, it is claimed, actually confessed the murder to the driver of the Rolling Stones bus, Tom Keylock, although after the event Keylock always denied this. There were other witnesses at the house when Jones was found dead. Any of them who have ever claimed to have ‘witnessed’ anything always decline to go on official police report about what they saw.

Maybe it had been murder, maybe it had just been death by misadventure. One thing that is for sure thought Brian Jones, a famous musician, was dead at the age of 27. He was not the first and he would certainly not be the last.

For more information about Brian Jones: Click Here

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Jimi Hendrix

Died: September 18th, 1970

After doing the circuit in America for a number of years, it wasn’t until he came to London that Hendrix began to gain the recognition his music deserved. It was the ex-Animals bass player, Chas Chandler, who first brought Jimi Hendrix over to the United Kingdom. It was a move that would work out well, in the short term at least. Hendrix soon had a few hit records behind him. His band ‘the Experience’ consisted of two English musicians, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell . The trio toured and recorded extensively for the next couple of years, knocking out hit after hit, both singles and albums.

All the success ended in one foul-swoop on the 18th of September 1970. The evening before, Hendrix had been at a party, returning shortly after midnight to his then girlfriends flat. Her name was Monika Dannemann. It was very soon after arriving at the flat near Notting Hill, that Hendrix died. The official cause of death asphyxiation of his own vomit. The real question was how it had happened. Dannemann originally claimed that Hendrix had taken nine sleeping pills the evening before. It was actually mainly red-wine they had found, not in his stomach, but actually in his lungs. She claimed, in interviews, that Hendrix was still alive when they came to take him away in an ambulance. The ambulance report stated that not only was Hendrix alone when they came to take him away but he was not breathing. There is also a rumour going round that one of Hendrix’s roadies was told by his manager that he had Hendrix murdered because of fears his management contract would not be renewed.

Whatever really happened that fateful night, the world lost one of its most gifted and talented musicians. Another one dead at the age of 27.

For more information about Jimi Hendrix: Click Here

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Janis Joplin

Died: October 4th, 1970

Janis Joplin was the lead singer of the band the ‘Big Brother and the Holding Company’ and latterly in the 1960’s a successful solo artist. The rock music scene at that time was a male-dominated one but here was one female who stood shoulder to shoulder with the big players of the time. Her career could have gone stellar but it was taken away from her in the autumn of 1970.

On the 1st of October, Joplin was in the studio recording two tracks. One was a song called ‘Mercedes Benz’, it was to be included on her next album. The other song was a birthday greeting for John Lennon (who was just about to turn 30 on the 9th of October). It is believed that Lennon received this song from Joplin the day after she had died. Joplin was scheduled in the recording studio to lay down some vocals but never showed. Her bands manager decided to look into this and drove to the place she was staying. Her Porsche (psychedelically painted) was still there. As was Joplin. She was dead. Officially it was an overdose of heroin with the added possibility of alcohol.

It wasn’t long before some conspiracy theories arose about her death. But here was another musician dead at the tender age of 27.

For more information about Janis Joplin: Click Here

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Jim Morrison

Died July 3rd, 1971

Lead singer of the band ‘the Doors’, Jim Morrison was also a poet and filmmaker. Throughout the late 1960s his band fast became one of the most talked about bands ever but as success grew for the band so did the problems for Morrison. Before long he was turning up for recording sessions heavily under the influence of alcohol. His weight rocketed, his style changed, he cultivated a beard. In 1969 Morrison was charged with indecent exposure; as a result many of the bands later concerts were cancelled. Before too long he moved to Paris.

In Paris, Morrison became depressed, he wanted to return to the USA. He never would. On the 3rd of July 1971 he was found dead in his bathtub by his then girlfriend Pamela Courson. No autopsy was carried out. No foul-play was found. It was a death attributed to a heroin overdose. Whether it was accidental or intentional, accident, suicide or murder, perhaps it was something else.

There are many different stories as to what actually happened to Morrison. Perhaps it was an accidental overdose of stuff he had taken himself. Perhaps he had been forced to take it. One story even has him taking it at a nightclub where he overdosed, before the drug dealers took his dead body back to his flat. If you thought that was a major cover up then you may be surprised to hear about an even larger one. Some theories have it that Jim Morrison ‘staged’ his own death so that he could disappear forever.

Even still, Morrison was dead. It was exactly two years from the day that Brian Jones had died, they had been the same age at their death.

For more information about Jim Morrison: Click Here

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Kurt Cobain

Died April 5th, 1994

The lead singer of grunge band Nirvana, Cobain was found dead by an electrician who had come to install a security system. There was little blood, apart from some coming from the ear; a suicide note was found. This discovery was made on the 10th of April, the coroner put the day of death at 5 days previous. The official verdict given was death by self-inflicted gunshot wound. Suicide.

Or was there more to it than that? Speculation has always been rife that perhaps Cobain was murdered. The evidence is there, albeit circumstantial. The amount of heroin in his blood could have left him unable to pull the trigger, not enough heroin to kill him but enough to sedate him enough for someone else to pull the trigger. The suicide note itself has a paragraph at the end, where the handwriting may well have been different. An attempt at copying Cobain’s writing perhaps. According to his then beau Courtney Love, Cobain always claimed he wanted to join the ‘Club 27′ (the group of musicians that died age 27). Was this a wish that was self-fulfilled? Or was there something more in there? It is a story worthy of much investigation.

One thing for sure though is that Cobain was dead, just another musician dead at the age of 27.

For more information about Kurt Cobain: Click Here

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Robert Johnson

Died August 16th 1938

The tale of Robert Johnson is a fascinating one. A forerunner of the Blues movement in the 1930’s, his music was to influence everyone from Muddy Waters to Led Zeppelin. Only two published photographs of Johnson exist. Perhaps that has helped to grow the myth of the man. Perhaps his alleged deal with the devil at the crossroads helped more. The story goes that one day, as Johnson was travelling, he came across a set of crossroads where the Devil appeared to him. A deal was struck whereby Johnson sold his soul and in return would be given the talent of playing the guitar masterfully. The story itself was not a new one, it had its roots in a song from the 1920’s performed by Clara Smith. The story did form the basis of a song called ‘Crossroads'; a Johnson song later revived by Eric Clapton.

The story of Johnson’s demise is straight out of a movie script. In a bar one night he was offered an open bottle of whisky to drink out of. His friend knocked it out his hand, seeing instantly what the danger may have been. Johnson was not happy, saying ‘don’t ever knock a bottle out my hand’. Later on that night someone else offered him an open bottle and forgetting his friends earlier advice, Johnson drank from it. It had been laced with strychnine. Interestingly though, in later years, this happening was dismissed because strychnine has such a pungent smell that it would not have been disguised by the liquor, in fact it was such a strong and distinctive smell that it would have been instantly noticed before being drunk.

What ever happened, the world had lost arguably one of its major musicians at the age of 27; had he not died, the music we know today could have been so different.

For more information about Robert Johnson: Click Here

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Richey James Edwards

Died (presumed) 1st February 1995

As stories go, that of Richey James Edwards is one that could easily be made into a movie. Guitarist and lyricist of the Welsh rock band the Manic Street Preachers, Edwards disappeared and has never been found, alive or dead. By this time, the career of the Manic Street Preachers had been growing rapidly, their music loved by many, they were tipped for the very top. With Edwards vanishing act it looked all over for the band. They decided to call it a day, no point in continuing as a trio without their influential guitarist and lyricist. However, the following year, something strange happened. The band were asked to record a cover version for a charity album, they could chose any song they wanted. They chose ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head'; the album was the ‘Help Ep’ (a charity album for WarChild), they dedicated it to Edwards. The remaining three members decided to maybe record some new stuff. Before long they broke through to the big time, as a trio, without their influential member. All of this is to bolt before the horse however.

Richey James Edwards suffered from severe bouts of depression throughout his life. He also liked to self-harm, whether by stubbing cigarettes out on his arm or just cutting himself. He also suffered from drug and alcohol abuse. On the 1st of February he disappeared. For two weeks before this he had withdrawn £200 every day from his bank account. He drove to his apartment in Cardiff, that much is true; what happened next though is open to debate. Although there was sightings of him in the next couple of weeks there was no conclusive proof. His car was found two weeks after he vanished, close to a ‘suicide’ hot-spot. No body was ever found, no proof that he was dead. No proof that he was still alive either. It wasn’t until 2008 that Edwards was officially declared ‘dead’. The Manic Street Preachers are not so sure; they still put 25% of their royalties in a bank account for Edwards, perhaps in the hope he will turn up one day, perhaps out of sentiment.

Another musician gone at the age of 27.

For more information about Richey James Edwards: Click Here

P.S. This article was originally published by the same author on Triond on the 13th of June 2009 and can be found by clicking HERE.