27 Artists That Didn’t Die at 27

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If you like ominous and macabre theories, the you’ll love the ’27 Club.’

It refers to the dark and unnatural cluster of artists passing away at 27, of which Amy Winehouse is now a member.  ‘The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock and Roll’ even offers a scary laundry list of artists that just missed 28.

Just a flimsy theory? The biggest 27-ers include Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Janis Joplin, a group whose causes of death span poisoning, suicide, and overdoses.  But there may be more than just an eerie coincidence going on here – one astute executive noted that it takes time for artists to gain notoriety, and the late-20s allows a greater demographic spread and time for audience-building.

On top of that, there may be biological aspects in play.  A body can weather endless hard-partying and extreme drug use at 21, but by 27, some ageing has occured.  The system collapses, which fits the situations of Morrison and Winehouse.

Still not buying it?  Then there’s the anti-theory, which finds a huge number of artists dying young – at ages other than 27.  In fact, there’s quite a large number of artists that crashed-and-burned prematurely, but not at this perilous age.  And here are 27 of them…

(1) Tupac Shakur, died at age 25.

(2) Notorious B.I.G., age 24.

(3) Bradley Nowell (Sublime), 28.

(4) Keith Moon, 32.

(5) Bob Marley, 36.

(6) Mozart, 35.

(7) Hillel Slovak (Red Hot Chili Peppers), 26.

(8) Selena, 23.

(9) Karen Carpenter, 32.

(10) Aaliyah, 22.

(11) Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, 30.

(12) Dimebag Darrell, 38.

(13) Randy Rhoads, 25.

(14) Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), 34.

(15) Jeff Buckley, 30.

(16) Sid Vicious, 21.

(17) Big Pun, 28.

(18) Ritchie Valens, 17.

(19) Buddy Holly, 23.

(20) John Lennon, 40.

(21) Stevie Ray Vaughan, 36.

(22) Cliff Burton (Metallica), 24.

(23) Otis Redding, 26.

(24) Duane Allman, 24.

(25) John Bonham, 32.

(26) Jim Croce, 30.

(27) Elvis Presley, 42.

44 Responses

  1. madktc

    Shannon Hoon (of Blind Melon). He had just turned 28.

    • earbits

      Your newsletter…I would like to subscribe. Shannon Hoon is (was) the man.

      • paul


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  2. Pete

    > …it takes time for artists to gain notoriety, and the late-20s allows a

    >greater demographic spread and time for audience-building.

    and once you have done every drug, realized the disgusting nature of the industry you have served, and suffered the torture of fame, why would you want to stay alive?

  3. balbers

    While not exactly a household name, Dwayne Goettel of Skinny Puppy died in 1995 at 31 years old. They’d been my favorite band for a while when I heard the news, and they simply haven’t been the same since. Their magnum opus Last Rights from 1992 still gets my vote for best album all time all genres.

  4. Visitor

    Michael Hutchence (INXS) 37, Suicide
    Jonathan Melvoin (Smashing Pumpkins) 34, Drug overdose
    Kristen Pfaff (Hole) 24, Drug overdose
    James “The Rev” Sullivan (Avenged Sevenfold) 28, Drug overdose
    Dave Williams (Drowning Pool) 30, Heart Disease

  5. Michael Anderson

    Charlie Parker at 34

    Jaco Pastorius at 35

    Clifford Brown at 25

    Albert Ayler at 34 (OMG teh Curz of 34! 😉 )

    Bix Biederbecke at 28

    Charlie Christian at 25

  6. floralunderwear

    casey calvert(hawthorne heights), died at 24 from a medication mixup.

    Ian curtis(joy division) died at the age of 30 from suicide.

  7. Ron Tippin

    Can’t believe Shannon Hoon is missing from this list!

  8. benjy

    good call @madktc on Shannon Hoon. Also, Jim Ellison (Material Issue), 32 y.o.

  9. waltergross

    Eric Dolphy – 36

    Dick Twardzik – 24

    Scott LaFaro – 25

    Joe Maini – 34

    Doug Watkins – 28

    Sonny Clark – 31

    Lee Morgan – 33

    Tommy Bolin – 25

  10. Devy

    Let’s not forget all of Spinal Tap’s drummers:

    John “Stumpy” Pepys (1964–1966) Died in a bizarre gardening accident, that the authorities said was “best left unsolved”.
    Eric “Stumpy Joe” Childs (1966–1967) Choked on vomit of unknown origin, other than his own
    Peter “James” Bond (1967–1977) Spontaneously combusted.
    Mick Shrimpton (1977–1982) Exploded onstage.
    Joe “Mama” Besser (1982) he disappeared along with the equipment during their Japanese tour. He is either dead or playing jazz.
    Richard “Ric” Shrimpton (1982–1999) Allegedly sold his dialysis machine for drugs; presumed dead.
    Sammy “Stumpy” Bateman (1999-2001) Died trying to jump over a tank full of sharks while on a tricycle in a freak show.
    Scott “Skippy” Scuffleton (2001–2007) Fate unknown.
    Chris “Poppa” Cadeau (2007–2008) Eaten by his pet python Cleopatra.
    Plus 9 other drummers at various times (Probably between 1970 and 1981) all of whom are dead.

  11. @zulalk

    zülal kalkandelen

    add ian curtis and nick drake to the list…

  12. brad

    Brian Jones (Rolling Stones) 27

    Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys) 39

  13. MisterSoftee

    Now let’s get really scary people…

    what’s the AVERAGE of all these… 27?

  14. neil h

    a more relevant experience the “27 club” shared might be sudden fame, which, when mixed with substance abuse and a heavy schedule of touring and promo, is exhausting and confusing. And the comedown after the cycle stops is often even worse. Having been around this a few times in my career, you thank your lucky stars if it can end in therapy bills instead of the way it ended for these folks. I was really hoping Amy would pull through.

  15. MLow

    Duane Allman, 24
    Otis Redding, 26
    Gram Parsons, 26
    Marc Bolan, 29
    Magic Sam, 32
    Blind Boy Fuller, 33
    Pimp C, 33
    Elliott Smith, 34
    Sonny Boy Williamson (1st), 34
    Lil’ Green, 34
    ODB, 35
    Fats Waller, 39

  16. guy eckstine

    Here are a few more great artists who passed before their time.

    Bobby Fuller- 23
    Clifford Brown- 26
    Pete Ham (Badfinger)- 27
    Ron”Pig Pen” McKernan- (Greatful Dead) 28
    “Mama” Cass Elliott- 33
    Elliott Smith- 34
    Charlie Parker- 35
    Art Porter- 35
    Jaco Pastorius- 36
    Tom Evans (Badfinger) 36
    John Coltrane- 41
    George Howard- 42
    Wes Montgomery- 45
    Joe Strummer- 50
    David Ruffin- 50
    Tony Williams- 52
    Luther Vandross- 54

  17. @DanaGoldstein


    i can’t believe i am now older than biggy and tupac ever were

  18. dsm

    It seems weird and out of line to include the murder victims along with the others.

    • paul


      Let’s face it, this whole article is a little grim. But if we’re going to play by the rules of the ’27 Club,’ then I think we have to consider every artist regardless of the cause of death. Robert Johnson was murdered at 27; Kurt Cobain killed himself, etc.




  20. Hagen

    Former Allman Brothers Band members Berry Oakley, 24 and Allen Woody, 44.

  21. @Shaun_Daniel

    Shaun Daniel

    Looks like we’re going to have to start a lot more clubs.

  22. TDTMD

    So in other words, they are just like the rest of us. They screw up and die or fate plays a roll (plane crash, motorcylce, natural causes). But hey, Itunes, listen up, 27 by 27 Dead – special price – if we are going to feed into the mythology someone may as well make some money. Never understood the got to buy the dead guys music syndrome but the ca chinging must be music to someones ears.

  23. Bradness

    Just staring at all these names…

    people don’t die this young!

    well, not for the most part.