Editor’s note: Amy Winehouse wasn’t the only one to die at 27 and all of us at dfuse.in couldn’t resist digging out as much as we could on this ‘phenomenon’. Trust our WTH expert Swathy Sethumadhavan to come up with a piece like this one. She’s spent hours of research on this and trust me, nobody could have done it better! Here’s where I stop and let you go on with the article. Be prepared to be more surprised than you’ve ever been. (No, really!)
The death of Amy Winehouse came as an unpleasant shock and surprise to the music world (and the rest of us!). Her troubles with alcohol and drug abuse followed her around, as she crooned how she didn’t want to go to ‘Rehab’. Her Grammy-winning jazz funk soul inspired hits such as, ‘You Know I’m No Good’, ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’, ‘Love is a Losing Game’ and ‘In My Bed’, Amy Winehouse is and will be one of the most iconic sounds of our generation.
The oft-quoted ‘sex, drugs, rock & roll, speed weed and birth control’ lifestyle has taken many victims into its loving, unforgiving arms a little too earlier than most others. Amy has left us in a world of auto-tuned YouTube pop stars and pre-pubescent teens singing about their jeans. In her death, Ms. Winehouse joins an exclusive group of rock ‘n’ roll idols whose deaths are shrouded in mystery till date. Rockstars who shot to fame and their pitiful descent to failure is almost as sudden an as their rise to stardom followed by their mysterious deaths at their prime – 27.
The 27 Club also known as Forever 27 is a group of influential musicians who’ve died at the age of 27. This ‘Curse of 27’ has followed some of the greatest musicians of this century such as The Lizard King and lead man of The Doors, Jim Morrison, the founder of The Rolling Stones, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix of The Experience, Janis Joplin and her Cosmic Blues, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and the latest addition to this ill-fated and notorious club, Amy Winehouse.
Although a lot of rock and roll music and its imagery is often wrongly associated with rebellion, occult, grim reaperers, voodoo worship, destruction, dystopia and all themes similar, it seems almost sardonic that this righteous band of rock and roll is racked with superstitions and myth.
Known as ‘The Greatest Myth of Rock and Roll’, the origins of Forever 27 can be traced to a man who is long considered the grandfather of Rock and Roll. A regular Van Gogh, Robert Johnson was not appreciated much during his lifetime. His records sold very poorly with little commercial success. His sly and street-smart demeanor along with his womanizing ways is said to have pissed off the other ‘fellas’, one of whom offered Johnson a bottle of poisoned whisky. After a few hours of intolerable pain, Mr. Johnson corked, leaving a legacy that would inspire the coming generations of musicians. His death is said to have spawned the Curse of 27. Legend says Johnson longed to be the King of the Blues but was unfortunately “sucked like an egg”. He disappeared for a few months, during which he made a deal with the devil “at the crossroads” who promised unparalleled mastery of the guitar for his soul.
Besides the more famous rock stars, there is a whole other list of other 27-ers who are lesser-known musicians from known bands such as Dave Alexander – Bassist of The Stooges (Fluid accumulation in the Lungs), Gary Thain – Former bassist of ‘Uriah Heep’ (Heroin OD), Pete de Freitas, Drummer for ‘Echo and The Bunnymen’(Motorcycle Accident ), Mia Zapata of The Gits (Beaten, Raped and Strangled) .
The similarities among the elite 7 of the 27ers (Jones/Johnson – Cobain/Winehouse) are just plain freaky upon in-depth research.
- Artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones have admitted that Robert Johnson has been one been their major influences in their music. The same Robert Johnson, the first one to die from the curse.
This fact is not very surprising since Johnson, eccentric of guitar playing and never before heard riffs, influenced an entire generation musicians such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Steve Miller, Robert Plant and Bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Cream and The Rolling Stones.
- Robert Johnson is said to have sought the guidance of a voodoo medicine man, who gave him awesome guitar playing abilities in exchange for his soul. In his song ‘Cross Road Blues’ and ‘Hellhound on my Trail’, he talks about the sale of his soul to the devil and how death is following him around.
- Another myth to Forever 27 is that all five of these artists had a white cigarette lighter in their pants pocket except Jim Morrison because he died in the bathtub with a lighter BUT they did find a white lighter in his back pocket.
Little known fact – the possession of a ‘white–lighter’ is considered bad luck in stoner culture. Some smokers are so superstitious about them they don’t even want to be in the same room with one.
- Growing up, Kurt Cobain was obsessed about joining the 27 Club. Cobain’s sister said that he would declare as a child that he wanted to be a member of the club.
Although each and every one of the 27s had lived the greater part of their adult life in the fast track, speed-balling from one addiction to another, the fact that all of them dropped dead as effortlessly as flies cannot be ignored!
Whether it was satanic contracts, cursed lighters or shiny disco balls – The 27 Club consists of the the pioneers of the music industry –Hendrix with his revolutionary riffs and distortions, Morrison with his psychedelic poetry, Joplin as the first white blues songstress to make it big, Kurt Cobain for bringing grunge rock to the forefront and Amy Winehouse for reviving the dying British R’n’B, soul and jazz scene.
These Stars of Rock left this world much before their time. The very prospect of them dying in relative obscurity, having to live in the shadow of their past glories would have been more painful to watch.
Like Kurt Cobain wrote in his suicide note,
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”