The Cursed Of The Forever 27 Club
With her death on Saturday, Grammy-winning retro-singer Amy Winehouse joined a tragically long list of iconic, often tortured artists who died at 27, including Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. Together they are known as the “27 Club.” Read their stories.
Amy Winehouse, 1983–2011
Amy Winehouse released two albums and won five Grammys, but she became almost as famous for her drug binges, hospitalizations, and rough performances. Just weeks before her death, she canceled her comeback tour after struggling to get through a performance in Belgrade, during which she may have been intoxicated. She was found dead on July 23 in her London apartment. Her cause of death was not announced, but police said “at this early stage it is being treated as unexplained.”
Kurt Cobain, 1967–94
The Nirvana frontman was found dead in his Seattle home by wife Courtney Love after locking himself in a closet with a gun, according to reports. Famous for leading the grunge-rock movement with songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Lithium," Cobain was also known for his drug use and addiction to heroin.
Jimi Hendrix, 1942–70
Hendrix, dubbed the greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone, was found dead in London after choking on his own vomit due to a mix of sleeping pills and wine. Hendrix, a Seattle native, rose to fame as the frontman for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and he headlined Woodstock. Winehouse takes a page out of his book: The psychedelic rocker's drug habit made its way into his music, notably in his hit "Purple Haze."
Jim Morrison, 1943–71
The lead singer and songwriter of the Doors was found dead in the bathtub of his Paris apartment of natural causes—at least according to his death certificate. While no official autopsy was ever conducted, controversy abounds over the cause of his death. In 2007, former Paris nightclub manager Sam Bernett alleged that the singer, famous for the hits "Light My Fire" and "Break On Through (to the Other Side)," died of a heroin overdose in his club and was later moved to the apartment.
Brian Jones, 1942–69
Jones, a founding member of the Rolling Stones, was kicked out of the band in June 1969. Less than a month later, on July 2, he was found dead in his swimming pool. His death was initially reported to have been caused by ”misadventure,” though an examination revealed no illegal drugs in his body at the time of his death. However, the case was reopened in 2009, after new evidence suggested that he might have been murdered by one of his handlers.
Janis Joplin, 1943–70
Joplin rose to fame as a member of Big Brother and the Holding Company, and secured her icon status during her brief solo career. She was known as the Queen of Rock and Roll and the Queen of Psychedelic Soul during her career. Joplin was found dead from a heroin overdose on Oct. 4, 1970, in a Los Angeles motel room.
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, 1945–73
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead, mainly playing the keyboard. In 1971, while being treated for alcoholism, he discovered he had cirrhosis of the liver. He left the band in 1972. Months later, on March 8, 1973, McKernan died of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
Alexander was one of the founders of the Stooges. He was also the original bassist for the group. Alexander left the band in 1970, and in 1975 he died of pneumonia, which was worsened by an inflamed pancreas.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1960–88
Basquiat was originally a graffiti artist; he became an art star at the age of 21. He dated Madonna and collaborated with Andy Warhol. Basquiat also started a little-known art band called Gray. The band was highly experimental; some members didn’t even have musical training. He died of a heroin overdose.