Billboard.com has gathered several music superstars who have passed away at an early age of 27. This 27 Club adds a new member with the death of Amy Winehouse (July 23). Let’s join Billboard.com as they reflect on some of the 27 Club’s most notable talents: Kurt, Janis, Jimi, Jim and now Amy may be gone, but none of them will be forgotten. (SOURCE: Billboard.com)
(September 14, 1983 – July 23, 2011)
With her heartfelt songs about love and heartbreak powered by her alluring alto vocals, Amy Winehouse’s prowess laid in her fearlessness to showcase her vulnerability. Unfortunately, the British soul singer’s potential and success were overshadowed by her addiction to alcohol and drugs. As Winehouse sold millions of albums and won numerous awards, Winehouse was personally tormented by substance addiction, eating disorders and destructive relationships, most notably with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil. In May 2011, at the advice of her father, Winehouse checked into rehab. On July 23, two months later, police found the singer dead at her London loft. At the time of the announcement, a cause of death was still undetermined.
(May 26, 1967 – June 16, 1994)
Though much of the spotlight shone on volatile frontwoman Courtney Love, Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff struggled with her own demons during the group’s rise. In June 1994, two months after the release of Hole’s acclaimed “Live Through This” album, Pfaff was found dead in her apartment, having overdosed on heroin.
(February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994)
With a sly smile, ferocious fuzzed-out guitar and wry, poetic lyrics, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain led the charge for the alt-rock explosion of the 90s. After releasing three acclaimed albums with the group (most notably 1991’s culture-shifting “Nevermind”), Cobain reluctantly ruled as one of the most famous and influential rockers in the world — ironic considering the troubled Seattle musician had spent most of his life forging his iconoclastic punk-infused music far away from the mainstream. After struggling with depression and heroin addiction for much of his life, Cobain ended his life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head less than two months after turning 27. He continues to be one of the most iconic and influential musicians in alternative music history.
(April 1, 1958 – December 23, 1985)
Guitarist Dennes Dale Boon was best known as the guitarist and founding member of influential hardcore punk trio the Minutemen. The California band released four daring and dynamic albums before Boon was killed in a van accident in 1985. The band, which also consisted of noted bassist Mike Watt, disbanded shortly after his death.
(December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971)
Rock ‘n’ roll’s “Lizard King” was born in Florida to a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral and formed The Doors in 1965 with fellow UCLA film school student and keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Morrison’s poetic lyrics and shaman-like stage presence made him one of the most provocative frontmen of the time, and the fact that he looked good in tight leather trousers and without a shirt made him a teenybop sensation as well. The Doors racked up seven Top 40 singles and as many Top 10 albums, though a restless Morrison — who had been found guilty of indecency at a Miami concert in 1969 — grew disenchanted with the pop mainstream and, in effect, left the group after making 1971’s “L.A. Woman.” He moved to Paris to write poetry before being found dead in the bathtub of his apartment on the Right Bank. But because no autopsy was performed and no one from the Doors camp ever saw his body, rumors have persisted that Morrison faked his death in order to return to a life of anonymity. Nevertheless, his grave at Paris’ Pere Lachaise is one of the most visited — and heavily graffitied — in the famed cemetery.
(January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970)
A Texas-born tornado with a stunningly soulful voice, Janis Joplin came to fame in 1967, when her San Francisco-based band Big Brother and the Holding Company performed at the Monterey Pop Festival and released its debut album. Her versions of Big Mama Thornton’s “Ball and Chain” and the original “Piece of My Heart” became signature pieces, and Joplin went solo at the end of 1968. Her appetite for substances — particularly Southern Comfort and heroin — ultimately got the best of her, and while she was in the midst of recording her second solo album “Pearl” she was found dead at the Landmark Hotel in Los Angeles from a heroin overdose. The posthumously released “Pearl” hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and Joplin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
(November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970)
No one wielded a guitar quite like Seattle’s James Marshall Hendrix. Considered by many as the greatest axeman that ever lived, Jimi Hendix elevated the art of electric guitar-playing with his string of influential recording and legendary performances with his group The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix’s life was cut tragically short in 1970 after her accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills and asphyxiated on his own vomit at his girlfriend’s apartment in London.
(February 28, 1942 – July 3, 1969)
As founding guitarist of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones was instrumental in bringing rock n’ roll to the masses in the ’60s. Though he was the band’s original leader, Jones was soon overshadowed by the powerful team of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards after they became the band’s principal songwriters. Jones’ role in the Stones lessened as he succumbed to substance abuse problems until he eventually left the band in 1969. Less than a month after exiting the group, Jones was discovered dead at the bottom of his own swimming pool at Cotchford Farm in East Sussex, England.
(May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938)
The pioneering Mississippi bluesman is often regarded as the first member of the fated “27 club.” Though his albums sold poorly during his lifetime, Robert Johnson‘s exceptional singing, songwriting and guitar playing went on to influence generations of musicians, including disciples like Eric Clapton who referred to him as “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” Circumstances surrounding Johnson’s death remain mysterious to this day, though popular theories persists that he was poisoned after drinking from a whiskey bottle laced with strychnine.