27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse
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Rolling Stones cofounder Brian Jones drowned in his swimming pool; Jimi Hendrix overdosed and choked on his own vomit in a London hotel; Janis Joplin overdosed on heroin; Jim Morrison died of heart failure while in the bathtub of a Paris hotel room; Kurt Cobain committed suicide by shooting himself; Amy Winehouse drank herself to death. All are members of the notorious 27 Club: they all died prematurely young at the age of 27. Their stories are fascinating pieces of music trivia, but Sounes (Fab, 2010) is interested in why they behaved the way they did. What specifically made them so self-destructive? (Sounes includes an appendix of an additional 44 members of the 27 Club, including the bluesman Robert Johnson.) Although only Cobain deliberately committed suicide, Sounes argues that all six killed themselves. All were intelligent and talented, he maintains, but most had personality problems of some sort, such as depression or bipolar disorder; in addition, many were the children of divorced parents and had low self-esteem. Fans of these musicians will be intrigued and saddened by this fascinating and tragic account.
constantly either drinking to get pissed, or drinking coffee to stay awake, then you start searching for other things, don’t you?’ Amy also liked having people around; she had a horror of being alone. If she found herself home alone she would reach out to friends in any way she could, becoming an early and frequent user of Skype, dialling up girlfriends online, people she had been to school with, or worked with years before, anybody to chat to. She sometimes sounded desperate, even paranoid,
going to on Sunday. Then it was time for Janis to go. ‘When we left, she hugged me and said, “I love you, Mummy.” She was always calling me that and telling me she loved me. Amy never really grew up. She was like a little girl, permanently fixed in time as a kiddie. I said, “I love you, too.”’ Amy drank throughout the rest of the day. ‘She was drinking vodka,’ says Andrew Morris, who popped out between four and five in the afternoon to buy milk. When he came back Amy was in the kitchen having a
heard that Amy drank herself to death. Pathologist Professor Suhail Baithun explained that he found 416 milligrams of alcohol per decilitre in Amy’s blood, over five times the UK drink-drive limit, and more than enough to stop her breathing. A police officer also told the court about the three empty vodka bottles found in her bedroom suite. Dr Cristina Romete made clear in her evidence that she had warned Amy of the grave risk of binge-drinking. ‘The advice I had given to Amy over a long period
from the band’s tour van in an interstate accident near Phoenix, Arizona, 23 December 1985. Louis Chauvin was a ragtime jazz pianist. Born in St Louis, Missouri, on 13 March 1881, a dissipated life ended in Chicago on 26 March 1908. Arlester ‘Dyke’ Christian fronted Dyke and the Blazers. Born in Buffalo, New York, on 13 June 1943, he was shot dead outside a bar in Phoenix, Arizona, 13 March 1971. Kurt Cobain was the leader of Nirvana. Born in Aberdeen, Washington, on 20 February 1967, he
pregnant shortly after she graduated, giving birth to Kurt when she was nineteen. A second child, Kimberley, followed when Kurt was three. There was a history of odd behaviour and violent death in the extended family. On his mother’s side, Kurt’s great-grandfather died in a mental hospital of a self-inflicted stab wound. His daughter, Kurt’s Grandma Fradenburg, subsequently became a recluse. On his father’s side, Kurt’s great-grandfather, Art Cobain, a county sheriff, died in bizarre