There isn’t an age at which people have not died, but the number of actors, artists, athletes, and musicians who left this world at age 27 is uncanny. The 27 Club is an informal list of those influential figures.
When we look at this list it highlights that, whether accidental or intentional, lives can end within the blink of an eye, so it is important to live every day as though it is your last. Get playing online scratchcards, go bungee jumping, or do whatever makes your heart happy before it is too late.
The 27 Club is filled with creative people whose work enriched the world, even as those who remained behind wonder what could have been, had Janis, Jimi, Kurt, and the others survived. Here are just a few of those who departed at age 27.
Amy Winehouse: Musician, Alcohol Poisoning, 1983-2011
Born on 14 September 1983 in London, UK, Amy Jade Winehouse was known best for her unique contralto vocals, and how she effectively brought together jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul. Her 2003 debut album, Frank, was nominated for a Mercury Prize, but it was 2006’s Back to Black that saw her win 5 Grammy Awards in 2008.
Having become fodder for tabloids, Amy’s on going battle with drug addiction and alcoholism was public knowledge. However, no one thought that, on 23 July 2011, Amy’s last few swigs of vodka would push her weakened system toward a fatal case of alcohol poisoning.
Kurt Cobain: Musician, Suicide, 1967 – 1994
Best known for his work as Nirvana’s frontman and guitarist, Kurt Donald Cobain was born on 20 February 1967. He played a pivotal role in the formation of alternative music’s grunge scene, and is undoubtedly one of Generation X’s great cultural icons.
Kurt, along with Krist Novoselic and Aaron Burckhard, formed Nirvana in 1987, but it wasn’t until the single Smells Like Teen Spirit was released from the band’s 1991 second album that it found success. Even so, Kurt believed his work was misunderstood, and it was not long before he began struggling with depression and with heroin addiction. On 5 April 1994, Kurt ended his life with a shotgun.
Jim Morrison: Musician, Unknown, 1943 – 1971
Born on 8 December 1943, James Douglas Morrison, better known as Jim Morrison, is one of the most iconic frontmen of rock music. As the vocalist of the Doors, Jim was known for his smouldering good looks, his bacchanalian stage presence, and his undeniable gift for poetry.
Jim became nothing less than a poster boy for 1960’s hippie counter-culture, but it was during those years that he developed a dependency on alcohol. He was found dead in a Paris apartment in 1971, but no autopsy was performed, and so the cause of his death remains a mystery.
Janis Joplin: Musician, Overdose, 1943 – 1970
Janis Lyn Joplin was born on 19 January 1943. Her life changed in 1967, when, as the frontwoman of Big Brother and the Holding Company, she performed at the Monterey Pop Festival. She and the band released 2 albums, before she decided to become a solo artist.
Janis went on to perform at Woodstock and on the Festival Express tour, and enthralled audiences and critics with her electrifying stage presence. However, she had an unhappy love life, and had developed a dependency on drugs. On 4 October 1970, in a hotel room, the Mercedes Benz singer injected heroin, and then bought a box of cigarettes from a lobby vending machine. She passed out on returning to her room, hit her face on a table as she fell, and was found dead a day later, thus sadly gaining her entry to the 27 Club too.
Anton Yelchin: Actor, Automobile Accident, 1989 – 2016
Born on 11 March 1989, Anton Viktorovich Yelchin was born to Jewish parents in then-Leningrad, Russia. The family moved to the USA when he was a baby. Anton began his acting career with roles on TV and in films in the 1990s.
His output was nothing less than prolific. The young actor appeared in 18 different movies, in addition to doing voice-over work, between 2011 and 2015. He is perhaps best known for his role as Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek reboots, the Fright Night remake, and Like Crazy. Anton’s life came to a tragic end on 19 June 2016, when, in a freak accident, his vehicle rolled down his driveway, and pinned him against a brick pillar.
Jimi Hendrix: Musician, Overdose, 1942 – 1970
Most famous as Jimi Hendrix, James Marshall Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix on 27 November 1942. In the four years of his career, he managed to alter the course of rock music forever.
Jimi took the undesirable noises produced by feedback from guitar amplifiers, and turned them into music. Aside from distortion, he also used a variety of effects that altered the tone of his instruments. On 18 September 1970, while staying with a girlfriend in London, an intoxicated Jimi took several sleeping tablets. The overdose led to his death from barbiturate-related suffocation.