The 27 Club – Why Did These Artists Die So Young?

Without a doubt, music is one of the world’s greatest passions. For many of us, music is a way to disconnect ourselves from the world that surrounds us, while relaxing and enjoying the lyrics that artists created from the bottom of their hearts. Music is such an important part of everyone’s lives, that fans are usually left heartbroken every time a new artist passes away.

For some mysterious reason, many famous musicians have died at the age of 27, forging what is known as The 27 Club. Here’s a list of 25 famous artists whose premature deaths have forged the 27 Club. This list is a tribute to them and they shall never be forgotten. Check #18#12 and of course #1!

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

#25. Valentin Elizalde Valencia

Mexican banda singer Valentin Elizalde Valencia was known for his stage nickname “El Gallo de Oro” and was one of the most important musicians of his time. Like his fame, his downfall came very quickly, as many of his songs were dedicated to Mexican drug lords, like “Vuelve Carnito” and “Vete Ya”.

Photo: Courtesy of Valenmax

His life came to an end on Nov. 25, 2006, after one of his concerts in Reynosa. An unknown person shot the car that transported the band several times, and Valentin died instantly. Many link his death to the song A Mis Enemigos, which refers to the gang Loz Zetas.

#24. Masako Natsume

One of the most famous Tokyo-born actresses was Masako Natsume, who jumped to world fame after her portrayal of Tripitaka in the series Monkey. She was also the inspiration behind the song Oh! Cookie Face! in 1977, written for a Kooky Face commercial!

Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

Despite having appeared in several movies and shows, her performances were never acclaimed by the critics, at least not until she landed on her breakthrough roles in the TV show Shousha and the drama film Onimasa. Sadly, she passed away in 1985 after battling acute leukemia.

#23. Kim Jong-hyun

South Korean singer Kim Jong-hyun enjoyed several years of fame as the leader of the band Shinee, which released 12 full albums and 2 EPs. Apart from his career with Shinee, he launched a solo project and released an album of his own called Base, which reached number one on the Billboard World Album Chart.

Photo: Courtesy of Music Mundial

Sadly, his fame would come to an end in December 2017, when he was found unconscious in a rented apartment in Cheongdam-dong, in the Gangnam District of Seoul. When his sister called the police reporting several suicide messages, the police found him and Kim died in the hospital due to smoke inhalation.

#22. Jim Morrison

One of the most famous singers in the world, Jim Morrison was the leader of the rock band The Doors, and was and continues to be an icon for rock music. He was last seen with his girlfriend Pamela Courson on June 28, 1971, and five days later, he was found dead, supposedly due to a heroin overdose.

Photo: Courtesy of Vice

Nonetheless, there was nothing conclusive about Morrison’s death, as the results of the autopsy were never clear. Three days after his alleged death, he was buried in Paris.

#21. Anton Yelchin

The most recent member of the 27 Club after Kim Jong-hyun is Anton Yelchin, who was born in the Soviet Union on March 11, 1989. He rose to fame in the early ’00s after starring in Spielberg’s sci-fi series Taken. A few years later, he took on the role of Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek film trilogy.

Photo: Courtesy of Jta

His death was a sad and avoidable accident. After he got out of his Fiat Chrysler, the car started to roll backward and caught Yelchin against a pillar. Yelchin’s family instituted a lawsuit against Fiat as there were many reports of rollaway incidents with their Fiat Chrysler. In 2018, the lawsuit was settled.

#20. Sahara Davenport

Sahara Davenport, born Antoine Ashley, was a very famous drag queen, singer, television personality and dancer who achieved significant fame after appearing in the second season of the famous RuPaul’s Drag Race. Even though she was eliminated from the show in the sixth episode, she pursued a career in the music world.

Photo: Courtesy of Glaad

The American drag queen released her second single, Go Off, in the year 2011. After having been remixed, the song hit the Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Song in position 35. On October 1, 2012, she died of heart failure, presumably an effect of her drug addiction to ketamine.

#19. Maria Serrano Serrano

Maria Serrano Serrano was born in 1973 was one of the founding members of Passion Fruit, one of the most successful European bands in the late 90s. Some of their famous songs include The Rigga-Ding-Dong-Song, Wonderland, and Bongo Band, do they ring a bell? The band had one extra member for the rapping parts of the songs.

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On Nov. 24, 2011, the whole band had to travel to Zurich from Berlin and boarded Crossair Flight 3597. In an unfortunate turn of events, the plane crashed after arriving at Zurich and Maria Serrano Serrano and Nathaly van Het Ende died upon impact.

#18. Pete De Freitas

Pete Louis Vincent de Freitas is famous for being the drummer of Echo & The Bunnymen. He left the band in the early 80s after having collaborated with the five first albums. In 1982, and under the name Louis Vincent, he played drums for the band The Wild Swans.

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Pete left his second band in 1985 to form a new rock band called The Sex Gods, based in New Orleans. Sadly, back in England, he died in a motorcycle accident while traveling from Liverpool to London in 1989. His ashes were scattered, as his family wished, in Goring-on-Thames.

#17. Stretch

One of the best friends of rapper legend Tupac Shakur was Randy Walker, known by his street and rapper name “Stretch”. Together with his brother Majesty, they formed part of Live Squad, a band that debuted in 1988 and released hits such as Troopin It and We Ain’t Havin’ It.

Photo: Courtesy of Bet

On November 30, 1995, Stretch died by during a shooting, exactly one year after his friend Tupac Shakur was tragically murdered. 4 bullets went through his back and he died in the instant. Allegedly, the reason behind the murder was that he stole from a drug dealer and never paid him back.

#16. Kristen Pfaff

Known for having been part of the punk band Hole together with Kurt’s Cobain former wife, Courtney Love, Kristen Pfaff graduated with a degree in Women’s Studies from University. Apart from playing the bass with the band, she worked as a counselor for rape victims during 1990.

Photo: Courtesy of Youtube

When Pfaff joined Hole, they had already signed a contract with Geffen Records and were out to tour around England. She had a short-lived musical career, as she was found dead in her apartment on June 16, 1994, surrounded by syringes. According to official reports, her death was caused by acute opiate intoxication.

#15. Jimi Hendrix

Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix is considered the God of rock and roll and might be, together with Kurt Cobain, the most famous member of the 27 Club. His end came on September 18, 1970, while he was at his girlfriend’s house. Before going to sleep, he took several pills of Vesparax, one of the strongest barbiturates.

Photo: Courtesy of Orbita rock

Not only did Jimi take the pills, but he also mixed them with alcohol, creating a deadly cocktail. Nobody was actually surprised by the news, as Jimi Hendrix was known for mixing unknown pills and alcohol, putting his life constantly at risk. But even though he passed away almost 50 years ago, his electric guitar continues to be legendary.

#14. Linda Jones

Linda Jones began singing when she was just 6 years old after joining her family’s gospel group. However, her professional music career did not take off until 1967, when she signed a contract with Warner Bros to record an R&B album with the label Loma Records.

Photo: Courtesy of Discogs

Jones had suffered from chronic diabetes during her early years and she passed away while touring during the presentation of her 1972 album, which left hits such as Dancing in the Street and I Can’t Make It Alone. Linda Jones slipped into a diabetic coma and died on March 14, 1972.

#13. Reggie Lewis

Boston Celtics star player Reggie Lewis played from 1987 until his death in 1993. At first, he was just a regular player, until he found his place in the team and scored an average of 20.8 points per game in his last two seasons. Even though he’s not a musician, he’s also considered as part of the 27 Club, simply for being one of the greatest celebrities of the time.

Photo: Courtesy of Nba

He tragically died on July 27, 1993, after a heart problem. The NBA doctors performed several strength-related tests on him, guessing he had suffered from hypertrophic myopathy, a common heart defect found in young athletes. His #35 jersey was never worn again by any player.

#12. Amy Winehouse

One of the most shocking deaths of the 27 Club was that of incredible soul singer Amy Winehouse, who passed away in 2011, two months after being released from a rehabilitation program. A few weeks before, she had performed in Serbia, where she had to leave the stage to an angry audience.

Photo: Courtesy of As

It is unclear whether the cause of death was caused by the alcohol level in her blood, which was five times the normal limit, or her eating disorder. Fans are still devastated by her loss, but we will never forget her legacy in the music industry.

#11. Jonathan Brandis

After debuting at a very young age in the Hollywood soap opera One Life to Live, Jonathan Brandis came to be a very famous child actor. He then took on the role of Bill Denbrough in Stephen’s King TV film, It. By his early teens, he had already gathered huge fanbase.

Photo: Courtesy of Tomatazos

As he became famous at such a young age, his career started to decline and when his appearance in the 2002 film Hart’s War was cut, he started to drown his sorrow in alcohol. Brandis was found dead in the hallway of his apartment in Los Angeles on November 11, 2003.

#10. Mia Zapata

If you ever considered yourself a punk fan, then you must have heard about icon Mia Zapata and her Seattle-based band, Gits, which was once an unstoppable force in the grunge scene. Fans of Nirvana and Pearl Jam considered it the third greatest grunge band ever, until an unexpected event took the world by surprise.

Photo: Courtesy of Marca

On a hot July night in 1993, singer Mia Zapata left a bar to visit a friend who lived a few blocks away, when she was attacked and killed. The whole Seattle music community raised an incredible amount of money to hire a private investigator but sadly, the money eventually ran out and nothing was ever found about her attacker.

#9. Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat became one of the youngest self-taught art icons, having begun his career as an artist at the age of 20. He had the honor of painting together with famous artist Andy Warhol and sharing a stage with Madonna. His first works were mostly graffitis which he painted around the SoHo, the neighborhood where he was born.

Photo: Courtesy of Wabctv

Like many famous painters, he was known for destroying his works after having finished them, which is why very few of his masterpieces remain. After developing a taste for high life and fame, Jean-Michel started to take cocaine and opioids. Sadly, his life came to an end in 1988 as a consequence of acute mixed drug intoxication. If you are a fan of Jay-Z, you may have heard Basquiat’s name in several of his songs!

#8. D. Boon

One of the most shocking deaths was that of D. Boon, as it made the masses realize that their idols were just as mortal as they were. Together with Mike Watt and George Hurley, his childhood friends, Boon formed the power trio “Minutemen” in January 1980.

Photo: Courtesy of Best Classic Bands

The band was considered a hit among young adults at the time, and when Boon passed away, they were right in the middle of one of their tours. On December 22, 1985, he was sleeping in the back of the van his girlfriend was driving. Sadly, she fell asleep while driving, the van lost control, flipped, and D. Boon flew through the back of the van and died from the impact.

#7. Pete Ham

Pete Ham was one of the lead members of the rock band The Iveys, famous for having signed with Apple Records in 1968. The band then changed its name to Badfinger, and you probably know them for their famous hit Come and Get It.

Photo: Courtesy of Marca

As with Alan Wilson, Pete Ham fell into a depressive state after his manager, Stan Polley, was sued by Warner Bros. Polley abandoned the band, leaving them broke, and as a consequence, Pete Ham hanged himself on his garage, as he was sure the band did not have any funds left.

#6. Dave Alexander

If there’s something that all of the members of the 27 Club had in common, it was their non-conformist attitude towards life. Dave Alexander is not the exception, as he was considered one of the main symbols of Rock and Roll. He will always be remembered as the man who dropped out of high school 45 minutes into senior year.

Photo: Courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery

Dave Alexander reached fame as a member of the rock band The Stooges, but he was fired in August 1970 after showing up completely intoxicated to a show. His drinking habit caused him to develop pancreatitis, although he ultimately died of pulmonary edema in 1975.

#5. Alan Wilson

Canned Heat was a blues band formed in 1965 by the leader, co-founder, and composer Alan Wilson. The band achieved great commercial success and even performed in the legendary 1969 concert, Woodstock. Despite being a success, not all of the band members led a happy life.

Photo: Courtesy of Version Rock

As with the rest of the members of the 27 Club, Alan fought many demons. He suffered from depression, had little self-confidence and had a distant relationship with his family. Wilson was found dead by vocalist Bob Hite, who found him sleeping outside his home with his hands crossed over his chest and a bottle of barbiturates near him.

#4. Robert Johnson

Blues legend Robert Johnson was one of the most influential rock and roll composers in history. Even though he was a very great artist famous for his guitar licks and vocals, little was known about his life. Therefore, after his death, fans came up with all sorts of theories regarding this short-lived career.

Photo: Courtesy of El Pais

One of the theories most fans agree on is that Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a prosperous music career. If such a deal existed, it was meant to end on August 16, 1938, the date when Johnson died, after having recorded less than 50 songs. His death is still a mystery to this day, just like the case coming up next.

#3. Brian Jones

One of the founding members of the famous British rock and roll band was Brian Jones, whose death has been surrounded by mystery since he was discovered dead in his swimming pool in July 1969. His girlfriend, Anna Wohlin, dragged him out of the pool but it was too late, as Jones had already passed away.

Photo: Courtesy of Gloucester Shire

Many of the band’s associates have claimed that Jones was murdered, but it has yet to be proved. As a matter of fact, his body was buried 10 feet underground to make impossible for grave robbers to profit from his body. Jagger could not attend his funeral as he was traveling to Australia with Marianne Faithfull.

#2. Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin is one of the most talented artists of all time and she certainly became an icon of an era. She captivated the heart of many young people with her natural and careless attitude.

Photo: Courtesy of Literary Hub

On the fateful night of October 5, 1970, she was found dead in her room after having injected heroin in her left arm and hitting her head against the nightstand table. She died just a few weeks after having recorded A Woman Left Lonely“. For many fans, that song was her farewell.

#1. Kurt Cobain

Of course, the most famous member of the 27 Club had to come in the first place. Leader, singer, and guitarist of the grunge band Nirvana, Kurt Cobain will forever be one of rock’s greatest legends. His death is still a mystery to many, and even though he took his own life, many believe he was murdered. Kurt was found dead on April 8, 1994, next to his suicide letter and a shotgun.

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

A few days before his death, he left the rehabilitation clinic in which he was hospitalized on his own volition and went back to his house. The suicide letter was a very painful one, in which he requested his wife, Courtney Love, to take care of their daughter, Frances Cobain, who in his words “will be so much happier without me“.

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    Luke H.

    Certified Translator recently graduated at the Universidad de Buenos Aires.
    Gamer. Bookworm.

    What we do in life echoes in eternity.

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