The 27 Club
It’s the club no-one wants to join.
The term “27 Club” was coined after four high profile rock star deaths between 1969 and 1971–Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. Their deaths were unusual not just because of the relative closeness of their deaths but also because they were all 27 when they died.
The 27 Club lives in cultural memory now in part because of the death of Kurt Cobain. It was after the Nirvana frontman took his life at the age of 27 that pop culture media really began making the 27 Club a thing.
Of course, musicians died at the age of 27 before 1969, including one of the reasons rock music exists, bluesman Robert Johnson.
So Music 101 is shining a spotlight on some of those other musicians who sadly died at the age of 27.
Alan Wilson (Canned Heat)
In his own words: Interview with Alan Wilson 4/68
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (Grateful Dead)
Pete Ham (Badfinger)
Chris Bell (Big Star)
Dave Alexander (The Stooges)
The Goose Lake Festival in 1970 was the last time Dave Alexander performed with The Stooges. He was fired after this appearance.
D. Boon (Minutemen)
Richey Edwards (Manic Street Preachers)
There has been a lot written about Robert Johnson, from possibly discovering a previously unknown picture, to dispelling myths, to examining his lyrics in detail.
Dyke Christian (Dyke & The Blazers)
Kristen Pfaff (Hole)
Pete de Freitas (Echo & The Bunnymen)
Interestingly, there was a study done on the average age of rock musicians die and it was found that on average, 27 isn’t really the age when a lot of musicians die, 56 is.
27 Club playlist
In each episode of Music 101, Margot highlights a different chapter in music history, showcasing songs you love and the stories behind them. Listen to Music 101 on the Colorado Sound every Sunday at 10am MT, with the same episode repeated Wednesday at 8pm MT. You can also hear recent episodes on our Music 101 show page.
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