On July 3rd, 1969, founding Rolling Stones multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones was found floating in his swimming pool after a midnight dip. The coroner’s report labeled his passing a “death by misadventure” and noted that his liver and heart were greatly enlarged by heavy drug and alcohol abuse. He was 27 years old.
Exactly two years later, on July 3rd, 1971, singer, songwriter, poet, and leader of The Doors, Jim Morrison, was found dead in a bathtub in Paris, France. While it was never medically confirmed, it is believed that he died of a heart attack brought on by an accidental heroin overdose. He was 27 years old.
Jones and Morrison are part of a group of musicians referred to collectively as the “Forever 27 Club.” The name refers to the statistically improbable fact that several legendary musicians have met an untimely demise at the age of 27, usually due to suicide or drug abuse. The club also includes iconic artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, and Amy Winehouse.
The Forever 27 Club has been well-documented in books and music publications and is a favorite topic for music conspiracy theorists. A large amount of research has been conducted to try to determine a reason for the eerie phenomenon. The Club has been the topic of exhibitions, films, novels, and stage plays, but no real connections between the deaths have been discerned other than the fact that they represent an ominous coincidence. According to Cobain and Hendrix biographer Charles R. Cross, “The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at the age of 27.”
To all the talented young musicians out there, make sure to take extra care in your 28th year—while being mentioned in the same breath as these icons may seem like an attractive prospect, this is one club that you don’t want to join.
[Originally published 7/3/16]