The 27 Club is the greatest myth of Rock and Roll. In the wake of Kurt Cobain newly released death scene photos we wanted to discuss this tragic club of talents.

27 club of musicians illustration

“If Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were the mind and body of the Rolling Stones,” reads Brian Jones’ obituary, “Jones, standing most of the time in the shadows, was clearly the soul.”

If that’s true, the soul of the Rolling Stones drowned in a pool in 1969. He had been kicked out of the band one month before for behavior too wild for even the Stones to endure. The behavior didn’t let up after his departure and led ultimately to his death. “I don’t know what happened,” Keith Richards later remarked. “But there was some nasty business going on.” When Jones died at the age of 27, the term “27 Club” did not exist. Previously, the most notable musician to die at that age was the legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson, believed to be poisoned in 1938. At the time of his death, all that was said was that he died too young and too talented. But as his legend grew, it was also said Johnson was cursed to die young after selling his soul at the crossroads for that most supernatural talent.

Rolling Stones with Brian Jones “Not Fade Away”

Curses, fate, magic and the supernatural, devils at the crossroads and mystic visions, these elements are part and parcel of the Rock and Roll romance. When Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison all died within ten months of each other, it was only fitting that fans ascribed their deaths to cosmic kismet. Over time, as more musicians succumbed to the temptations of their very public profession, their shared age became an ominous signpost on the road to fame and doom. The “27 Club,” as it has come to be known, is made up of musicians throughout the decades that have died at the age of 27. The number has taken on a supernatural taint, with the reasons for why this particular age running the gamut from industry conspiracy to the whims of the planet Saturn. But as coincidental as their ages are, these young artists share another trait far less glamorous than their astrology. They all walked the razor’s edge between excess and depression.