After Hollywood actor Anton Yelchin passed away in a freak accident last June 2016, he was the latest name added to the infamous list The 27 Club.
The only thing that separated Yelchin from the other big names on the list was that he wasn’t a musician by profession. Though ironically, one of Yelchin’s final roles was as a bassist of a band for the horror film The Green Room. But that could be just some sort of coincidence.
That said, is it still fair to say that the unfortunate deaths of the talented musicians of the 27 Club were coincidences as well? For those who are unaware, the 27 Club is a term given to an unusually high number of performers who died at the age of 27. What makes this even more tragic is that these individuals were at the height of their career when they died.
The Mystery Behind the 27 Club
Scroll down for the video
Kurt Cobain is perhaps the most famous member of the 27 Club
Cobain passed away from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head on April 5, 1994. It was said that he was suffering from chronic health problems as well as depression. Following the death of the Nirvana frontman, the public’s perception of the 27 Club worsened. His mother, Wendy O’ Connor, was noted saying that her son has gone on to join that “stupid club.”
Cobain’s widow and fellow musician, Courtney Love, seemed to have dodged the bullet herself. But the same can’t be said for her Hole bandmate Kristen Pfaff, who, at the age of 27, died of a heroin overdose just months after Cobain lost his life.
Prior to Cobain’s apparent suicide, there was an alarming rate of fallen musicians between the years 1969 and 1971. Among them were the following:
- Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, who died on July 3, 1969
- Jimi Hendrix of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, who died on September 18, 1970
- Janis Joplin of Big Brother and the Holding Company, who died on October 4, 1970
- Jim Morrison of The Doors, who died on July 3, 1971
Note that Brian Jones and The Doors frontman Jim Morrison died on the same month and day, marking July 3 as one of the most tragic dates in music history. It should be noted that other famous names included in the ill-fated group were etched way before the first known 27 Club member died. A good example here is pioneering blues guitarist Robert Johnson, who died at the age of 27 in the year 1938. If we were to rewind the clock even further, we’d find out that famous ragtime musician Chauvin lost his life to sclerosis in 1908. He too was only 27 years old.
The anomaly would continue to haunt musicians in the 2000s. Amy Winehouse‘s death from alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, went on to break several hearts. The singer with one-of-a-kind voice was at the time on the top of her game, but unfortunately, she failed to escape the demons inside. What made her death quite eerie but tragic was that Winehouse openly expressed her fears about joining the 27 Club one day.
So is the 27 Club just a series of coincidental deaths? Conspiracy theorists think otherwise. A lot of people have noted that Cobain, Morrison, Joplin, and Hendrix all had white lighters on their hands by the time their bodies were discovered. Those reports have yet to be verified, so the debate surrounding the 27 Club continues to bewilder people everywhere.
Here are other musicians part of the 27 Club.
|Name||Died||Cause||Claim to notability|
|Louis Chauvin||March 2, 1908||Neurosyphilitic sclerosis||Ragtime musician|
|Robert Johnson||August 16, 1938||Unknown||Bluesman|
|Nat Jaffe||August 5, 1945||High blood pressure||Blues musician|
|Jesse Belvin||February 6, 1960||Car wreck||R & B singer and songwriter|
|Rudy Lewis||May 20, 1964||Drug overdose||The Drifters|
|Malcolm Hale||October 30, 1968||Carbon monoxide poisoning||Spanky and Our Gang|
|Alexandra||July 31, 1969||Car accident||German singer|
|Alan Wilson||September 3, 1970||Overdose, possible suicide.||Leader singer of Canned Heat|
|Arlester Christian||March 13, 1971||Shot||Vocalist of Dyke & the Blazers|
|Linda Jones||March 14, 1972||Diabetic coma||R & B singer|
|Ron McKernan||March 8, 1973||Alcoholism||Grateful Dead|
|Roger Lee Durham||July 27, 1973||Fell off a horse||Bloodstone|
|Wallace Yohn||August 12, 1974||Died in a plane crash||Organ player of Chase|
|Dave Alexander||February 10, 1975||Pulmonary edema||The Stooges|
|Peter Ham||April 24, 1975||Suicide by hanging||Badfinger|
|Gary Thain||December 8, 1975||Drug overdose||Uriah Heep|
|Helmut Köllen||May 3, 1977||Carbon monoxide poisoning||Bassist with Triumvirat|
|Chris Bell||December 27, 1978||Car wreck||Big Star, solo artist|
|Jacob Miller||March 23, 1980||Car wreck||Inner Circle|
|D. Boon||December 22, 1985||Auto accident||The Minutemen|
|Alexander Bashlachev||February 17, 1988||Suicide by jumping||Russian poet, rock musician, and songwriter|
|Jean-Michel Basquiat||August 12, 1988||Speedball overdose||Gray|
|Pete de Freitas||June 14, 1989||Motorcycle wreck||Echo & the Bunnymen|
|Mia Zapata||July 7, 1993||Murdered||The Gits|
|James “Richey” Edwards||February 1, 1995||Disappeared; presumed dead||Manic Street Preachers|
|Fat Pat||February 3, 1998||Shot||Screwed Up Click|
|Freaky Tah||March 28, 1999||Shot||Lost Boyz|
|Rodrigo Alejandro Bueno||June 24, 2000||Automobile Accident||Argentine cuarteto singer|
|Sean Patrick McCabe||August 28, 2000||Asphyxiated on vomit||Ink & Dagger|
|Maria Serrano Serrano||November 24, 2001||Plane crash||Background singer for Passion Fruit|
|Jeremy Michael Ward||May 25, 2003||Heroin overdose||The Mars Volta and De Facto sound manipulator|
|Bryan Ottoson||April 19, 2005||Prescription drug overdose||American Head Charge|
|Valentín Elizalde||November 25, 2006||Murdered||Mexican banda singer|
|Orish Grinstead||April 20, 2008||Kidney failure||R & B group 702|
|Lily Tembo||September 14, 2009||Severe gastritis||Zambian musician|