Today, on October 4th, it’s been exactly 40 years since the tragic death of Janis Joplin. Along with Hendrix, Cobain and many others, Joplin died the mysterious age of 27. Suicide or accident – no one knows. Neil Young once wrote “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”. In their remembrance we list ten legendary musicians of the 27 Club.
After many years playing backup for Little Richard and The Isley Brothers in the U.S., Hendrix was lured to London by manager Chas Chandler the fall of 1966 where showed the world of rock’n’roll how a Fender Stratocaster should be played. He died choking on his own vomit on September 18th 1970 in a London hotel room.
Making it as a white female blues singer in a male dominated industry wasn’t easy. Janis Joplin won her audience at the 1967 Monterey festival and went on to conquer the world with her unique voice and own style. Three years later, on October 4th 1970, she was found dead with the needle still in her arm.
Jim Morrison was a poet and singer who together with keyboardist Ray Manzarek formed The Doors in 1965. Morrison quickly gained attention for his theatrical and challenging style on stage. He died in his apartment in Paris, cause of death unknown though probably drug related.
Brian Jones founded The Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in London 1962. He got kicked out of the band in June 1969 and was found dead in his pool a couple of days later. Jones wrote the songs “Paint it Black”, “Ruby Tuesday”, and “Let’s spend the night together” to name some.
The biggest icon in American blues, Robert Johnson grew up on a plantation in Mississippi and legend says Johnson one day took his guitar to a meeting with the Devil who tuned it for him. He was booked to perform on Carnegie Hall in New York when new arrived that he’d been poisoned and killed on August 6th 1938 in what was suspected to be a crime of passion.
Cobain bought his first guitar at the age of 14 and shortly thereafter formed the grunge band Nirvana. The second album “Nevermind” became a platinum success in 1991 but with all the attention Cobain quickly turned to drugs to cope. Three days after recovering from a drug-related coma Cobain took his life. In his final notes he’d quoted Young “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”. Kurt Cobain died on April 5th 1994.
Raymond “Freaky Tah” Rogers was a rapper and member of the hip hop group Lost Boys, who topped the billboards with such songs as Lifestyles Of The Rich & Shameless and Summertime. Rogers was shot in back of the head on March 28th at the birthday party of his fellow band member and frontman Mr Cheeks. Motive unknown.
As lead singer in the Jamaican reggae band Inner Circle, Jacob Miller had a promising career ahead of him when he abruptly died in a car crash in March 1980.
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan
As founding member of the legendary band Grateful Dead, McKernan is perhaps best known for adding such tunes as “Turn On Your Lovelight” and “”In the Midnight Hour” to the Grateful Dead repertoire. His last concert appearance was in June 17, 1972 at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles, California. On March 8th 1973 he was found dead in his home.
Along with Iggy Pop and the Asheton brothers, Alexander formed the influential band The Stooges, where he played the base. After showing up to a gig allegedly too drunk to play Alexander was fired from the band in August 1970. Five years later, at the age of 27, Alexander passed away in a hospital in Ann Arbor after being admitted for pancreatitis, related to heavy drinking.