Simply stated; it’s not natural for anyone to die at the age of 27. When people squarely in the public eye die at the age of 27 from some unnatural cause there are always questions and from those questions come legends and from those legends come great mythology.
The mythology, as well as the reality surrounding some of the prime members of the so-called 27 Club, those rockers and musicians who died at the not so ripe old age of 27 years; is the subject of Howard Sounces new book; 27: A History of the 27 Club Through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse.
Sounces has actually gone so far as to gather a list of the 50! members of the 27 Club, which includes the famous and the not so famous. So much has been written over time about the six that are the prime focus of this book that many of the stories and theories about their passing have taken on a life of their own. Sounces does an admirable job of cutting through a lot of the drama without claiming to have definitive answers for some of the speculation.
The intersections of their lives and the crossing of paths that are part of Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison’s story, coupled with the fact that they died in such a close time span just seems to add to the drama of the story. Were they somehow obsessed with death, convinced that they were tagged for an early departure, makes for interesting speculation, but in the end it seems to boil down to each having a major part in their own early demise.
Clearly Sounces was impacted by the death of Amy Winehouse; he spends a lot of focus on her final days and brings an almost fan boy approach to his writing about her. While each of these artists have their own distinct profiles and demons, they seem to share an inability to deal with their fame and an almost sad, lonely quality to their existence. It is the way they attempt to fill that empty space that contributes to their early deaths.
27, is thoroughly researched and features many new interviews with the principals who were in the inner circle of the six featured individuals. Sounces list of the 50 members will often jog the memories of rock fans to the club’s less famous, but equally tragic members.