Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison all died at the age of 27 between 1969 and 1971. At the time, the coincidence sparked conversation around the number “27” but it was not until the death of Kurt Cobain, about two and a half decades later in 1992, that the idea of a "27 Club" began to catch on in public perception. Since then, other artists of note that have passed away at the age of 27 include Kristen Pfaff (bassist from Hole), Robert Johnson, Dave Alexander (The Stooges), and Amy Winehouse.
Despite the list of artists that have died from varying causes at the age of 27 being quite notable, statistical studies have failed to find any unusual pattern of musician deaths at this age.
Jim Morrison died on July 3 in 1971 of heart failure believed to be connected to substance abuse. The singer, songwriter, and poet, best remembered as the lead singer of the Doors. Due to his poetic lyrics, distinctive voice, wild personality, performances, and the dramatic circumstances surrounding his life and early death, Morrison is regarded by both music critics and fans as one of the most iconic and influential front men in rock music history.
Brian Jones died on July 3 in 1969, aged 27. The founder and the original leader of the Rolling Stones, he developed a serious drug problem over the years and his role in the band steadily diminished. The band asked Jones to leave the Rolling Stones in June 1969 and guitarist Mick Taylor took his place in the group. Jones died less than a month later by drowning in the swimming pool at his home on Cotchford Farm in East Sussex.
Janis Joplin is regarded as a pioneer and revolutionary for women in blues and rock n roll, and was one of the biggest female rock stars of her era. Joplin died on October 4 in 1970 of an accidental heroin overdose, aged 27. She released 3 albums, and a fourth album, Pearl, was released in January 1971, just over three months after her death. It reached number one on the charts.
Jimi Hendrix, a pioneer and icon of the electric guitar, died on September 18 in 1970 of asphyxiation by choking on his own vomit. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century.
Kurt Cobain, singer and guitarist of Nirvana, died on April 5 in 1994 of suicide, a gunshot wound to the head. Nirvana found breakthrough success with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from their second album Nevermind in 1991. Following the success of Nevermind, Nirvana was labelled "the flagship band" of Generation X, and Cobain hailed as "the spokesman of a generation". He was uncomfortable and frustrated with that label, believing his message and artistic vision to have been misinterpreted by the public, with his personal issues often subject to media attention.
One this that is for sure, these artists departed too soon, and left us with a legacy of incredible music.