- Published on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 02:00
I’ve always reckoned I would give myself until my 28th birthday to become a rock star. This was not based on any kind of responsible, goal-oriented life choice, but rather on the fact that a few legendary artists died at 27 and left the world in awe of their greatness. This so-called “27 Club” previously comprised Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Brian Jones. With the recent passing of Amy Winehouse, the club appears to have grown.
There are those among us who believe this is evidence of a curse, rather than a coincidence. The fact of the matter is that these six people — and many others — died very young from causes other than natural. Hendrix died under somewhat suspicious circumstances by asphyxiating on his own vomit, which consisted mainly of red wine. Janis had a bit too much heroin. Jim either drowned in the bath or died of heart failure. Kurt had an immense amount of heroin and then became intimately involved with the business end of a shotgun. Rolling Stone Jones drowned; some think it was suicide, others that it was accidental. Essentially, they did not die from natural causes. Unless, of course, they happened to have been drug-addled rock stars.
Amy Winehouse, let’s be honest, probably overdosed. A favourite 27 Club nominee, Robert Johnson, supposedly sold his soul to the Devil, became a guitar god, and then got himself poisoned for lookin’ at some other fella’s woman. The list goes on. Wikipedia, that trusted tome, lists dead musicians along with their age and cause of death. Nineteen relatively well-known musicians shuffled off at 27 — more than any other age group – but they only make up a quarter of those who died before hitting the big three-oh. Looking at the cause of death, a disturbing picture appears. Suicide, heroin, plane crash, bike crash, car crash, cocaine, drug-related heart attack, accidental drowning, morphine overdose, alcohol overdose, speedball overdose — apparently, these are natural causes in their line of work.
Is that an excuse, though? Why does it seem to make any more sense for a musician to die a senseless death than for anyone else? It’s not even just young people either: Dee Dee Ramone OD’d on heroin aged 50 and Ike Turner (Tina’s ex) had one too many lines of coke when he was 76. Is “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” worth it? How did people adored by so many have no support structure in place to save them before they destroyed themselves? Perhaps we should be looking at why these young souls lived and died the way they did, rather than harping on about curses. There is nothing mystical, enigmatic or poetic about a young, talented person having a heart attack due to cocaine. It’s just sad.