This week in music history, Kurt Cobain tragically took his life 29 years ago on April 5th, 1994. It was a day that changed music history forever. Kurt Cobain was found in his home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His death remains to this day, a tragedy and has forever shaped the music of the time ever since. With Cobain’s passing he has joined what many in the music industry dub “The 27 Club”. The “27 Club” is a name given to musicians who have passed away tragically at that age. This blog covers the list and how members of the “Club” died.
Kurt Cobain February 20, 1967- April 5, 1994
The troubled but musically talented guitarist and songwriter died April 5th, 1994, of suicide. He was found by an electrician arriving for a security systems installation. A suicide note was found in his home saying that he had lost his love of creating and writing music. Cobain is remembered by his daughter Frances Bean Cobain and his widow Courtney Love.
Janis Joplin January 19, 1943- October 4th, 1970
Janis Joplin was found dead on the floor of her room in at the Landmark Motor Hotel by her road manager. While alcohol was on site, there were no drugs present at the time of her passing. Evidence of narcotics were originally on the scene but removed by a friend of Joplin’s. They were eventually put back after the friend realized that the autopsy would reveal that they were in her system. Her death was also inflicted by a gash on her head caused by tripping when her heal got caught in the rug.
Jimi Hendrix November 27, 1942- September 18, 1970
Despite being one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Hendrix had his fair share of problems. Prior to his death, a series of lawsuits mounted. The first being a paternity suit and the other over a recording contract. He had suffered lack of sleep, relationship issues and issues with the music industry as well. On September 15th, Hendrix and his girlfriend Monika Dannemann where they spent two days together. During these two days, Hendrix went shopping for clothes and writing paper for his final lyrics. Hendrix requested amphetamines but was denied by Dannemann, hoping he would sleep naturally. He was found breathing but unresponsive and unconscious later that night. By 12:45 PM he had been declared dead at 27 years old. He is survived by his sister and undeniable impact on guitar playing.
Jim Morrison December 8, 1943- July 3, 1971
The members of The Doors could not believe the news of Jim Morrison’s death at the time. The reason being that Morrison had often joked about his potential demise a lot. A quick call to their manager who had arrived on the scene confirmed it to be true. He had stayed in an apartment on the Rue Beautrellis with his girlfriend Pam Courson. Jim Morrison was found in his bathtub at 6:00 am. The official cause of death was listed as heart failure, though no autopsy was performed as required by French law. Courson stated his last words were “Pam, are you still here?”
Brian Jones February 28, 1942- July 3, 1971
Before there was Ronnie Wood, there was Brian Jones. The Rolling Stones rhythm guitarist was widely considered to be an influential member of the band. He appeared on every classic Rolling Stones record starting with the Self-Titled in 1964 to his final appearance on 1969’s Let It Bleed. Brian Jones was found dead upon arrival when he was discovered in his swimming pool in Cotchwood Farm. The coroners reported declared his death a “death by misadventure.” This meant that his own actions were unfortunately responsible for his demise. Though upon discovery, his liver and heart were enlarged due to prior drug abuse.
Al “Blind Owl” Wilson July 4, 1943- September 3, 1970
While not as well-known as the other members of the club, Blind Owl was the front man for Canned Heat. The front man was not a fan of flying, despite having to do it as being part of a band. He would frequently miss flights, having to take separate ones due his distaste of being in the air. When he missed his September 2nd flight to Germany, his band members thought nothing of it. He was found dead in his sleeping bag at his home from intoxication. Wilson’s death came fourteen months after Brian Jones, two weeks before Hendrix, ten months before Jim Morrison and four weeks before Janis Joplin.
Amy Winehouse September 14, 1983 -July 23, 2011
Prior to her death, Winehouse’s bodyguard had noted she was laughing, watching TV at 2 in the morning and drinking lightly. She was observed as being unresponsive on her bed at 10 the following day. Two ambulances arrived on the scene. Like Brian Jones, her death was labeled as misadventure. Following her death, the media renewed interest in the “27 Club”.