An eerie amount of musicians have made it into the 27 club, and that is not a club that most strive to be in. Right in the prime of their career, the musicians and artists in this club have their career and success cut short by death at the age of 27. Maybe it is a coincidence, maybe it is not. Here is an extensive list of some of the most prominent artists that have made it into this unfortunate club.
1. Louis Chauvin
(March 13, 1881 – March 26, 1908)
He was an African American ragtime musician and was widely considered the finest pianist in the St. Louis area at the turn of the century. He died from neurosyphilitic sclerosis at the age of 27.
2. Robert Johnson
(May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938)
He was an American blues musician and was among the most famous of Delta blues musicians. He influenced many artists including Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton. There are theories regarding his death often surrounding the idea that he was poisoned by a woman. Regardless of the details, he was 27.
3. Jesse Belvin
(December 15, 1932 – February 6, 1960)
He was an American R&B singer, pianist, and songwriter who was popular in the 1950s. His success was cut short by a car crash when he was 27 years old.
4. Malcolm Hale
(May 17, 1941 – October 31, 1968)
Hale was part of a group called Spanky and Our Gang. At age 27, Hale died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty space heater.
5. Brian Jones
(February 28, 1942 – July 3, 1969)
He was an English musician and one of the founding members of The Rolling Stones. Jones was discovered motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool when he was 27 years old. The coroner’s report stated “death by misadventure.”
6. Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson
(July 4, 1943 – September 3, 1970)
He was the leader, singer, and primary composer in the American blues band Canned Heat. He played guitar, harmonica, and he wrote most of the songs for the band. Wilson died from a drug overdose at age 27.
7. Jimi Hendrix
(November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970)
Hendrix was one of the most influential musicians of his time and has gone down in history as one of the greatest guitar legends. He died in London under circumstances which have never been fully explained. He was 27 years old.
8. Janis Joplin
(January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970)
She was an American singer, songwriter, and music arranger. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Joplin on the top 100 list of the Greatest Artists of All Time. Joplin died from an overdose of heroin combined with the effects of alcohol. She was 27 years old.
9. Arlester “Dyke” Christian
(June 13, 1943 – March 13, 1971)
He was the front man and the vocalist of the band Dyke & the Blazers, which was inducted to the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame. Dyke was shot to death at the height of the band’s success when he was 27 years old.
10. Jim Morrison
(December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971)
Morrison was an American singer, songwriter, poet, writer and filmmaker. He was best known as the lead singer and lyricist of The Doors. Morrison was found dead in a Paris apartment bathtub. No autopsy was done leaving many questions regarding the cause of his death. He was 27 years old.
11. Linda Jones
(December 14, 1944 – March 14, 1972)
She was an American soul singer who was diagnosed with diabetes soon after her career took off. At 27 years old, she slipped into a diabetic coma and died.
12. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan
(September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973)
Pigpen was a founding member of the Grateful Dead. He died of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage at his home in California. He was 27 years old.
13. Dave Alexander
(June 3, 1947 – February 10, 1975)
He was an American musician best known as the original bassist for the band the Stooges. He was 27 years old when he died of pulmonary edema after being admitted to the hospital for pancreatitis linked to his drinking.
14. Peter Ham
(April 27, 1947 – April 24, 1975)
Ham was a Welsh singer, songwriter, and guitarist known as the leader of the group Badfinger. Ham hanged himself in the garage of his home at the age of 27.
15. Gary Thain
(May 15, 1948 – December 8, 1975)
Thain was a rock bassist known for his work with the British band, Uriah Heep. Thain suffered an electric shock at the Moody Coliseum in Dallas and that combined with his drug addiction ruined his ability to perform, which got him fired from the band. Shortly after that Thain died of respiratory failure due to a heroine overdose at the age of 27.
16. Jacob Miller
(May 4, 1952 – March 23, 1980)
Miller was a Jamaican reggae artist who first recorded with Clement Dodd. He then became the lead singer for the reggae group Inner Circle. He was killed in a car accident at the age of 27 years old cutting his success short.
17. D. Boon
(April 1, 1958 – December 22, 1985)
Boon was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the Reactionaries. D. Boon is best known as the guitarist and vocalist of the trio Minutemen. He was killed in a van accident at 27 years old.
18. Mia Zapata
(August 25, 1965 – July 7, 1993)
Zapata was the lead singer for the Seattle punk band the Gits. She was brutally raped and murdered in the Central District of Seattle at the age of 27.
19. Kurt Cobain
(Feburary 20, 1967 – April 8, 1994)
Kurt Cobain was a singer and songwriter for the band Nirvana, which displayed great success. Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle at age 27. It was ruled as a suicide although there is much controversy on the matter.
20. Kristen Pfaff
(May 26, 1967 – June 16, 1994)
Pfaff was an American bass guitarist who was best known for her work with Hole. Pfaff struggled with a heroin addiction and was unable to cope with the suicide of her friend Kurt Cobain. She died shortly after him at 27 years old.
21. Richey James Edwards
(December 22, 1967 – February 1, 1995)
He was a rhythm guitarist and lyricist of the alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers. Edwards vanished on February 1, 1995 and was shortly after declared presumed deceased. When he disappeared he was 27 years old.
22. Fat Pat
(February 21, 1970 – February 3, 1998)
Fat Pat was a rapper from Houston and an original member of DJ Screw’s Screwed Up Click. He was shot dead at age 27 after collecting an appearance fee from a promoter’s apartment.
23. Freaky Tah
(May 17, 1971 – March 28, 1999)
Freaky Tah was a hip hop artist from South Jamaica, Queens, New York. He was a member of the group Lost Boyz, which showed great success. Freaky Tah was shot in the head while exiting a hotel in Queens. He was pronounced dead at the age of 27.
24. Jeremy Michael Ward
(May 5, 1976 – May 25, 2003)
Ward was the sound technician and vocal operator for the Mars Volta and for the dub outfit De Facto. Ward was found dead in his home by an apparent heroin overdose at the age 27.
25. Bryan Ottoson
(March 18, 1978 – April 19, 2005)
Ottoson was the guitarist for the band American Head Charge. He was found dead from an accidental prescription drug overdose mixed with alcohol in his system. He was 27 years old.
26. Orish Grinstead
(June 2, 1980 – April 20, 2008)
Grinstead was an American R&B singer and a founding member of the R&B group, 702. She died at the age of 27 from kidney failure.
27. Amy Winehouse
(September 14, 1983 – July 23, 2011)
Winehouse was a pop star who had a reputation of partying more than her body could handle. She was found dead at her London home at 27 years of age. The death of Amy Winehouse has been treated as unexplained.
It is a strange coincidence that so many talented musicians struggle making it through their 27th year of life. From heroin overdoses to freak car accidents, more artists are joining club 27 in unfortunate ways.