The 27 Club is predominantly made up of musicians who would rise to become the voice of their generation and pioneers in their genre — from blues to rock to grunge. Some died from unknown circumstances, others by taking their own life, while a substantial number fell victim to the excesses of drugs and alcohol.
Explore seven singers and musicians whose legacies have been immortalized by their untimely deaths at 27:
Kurt Cobain (1967 - 1994)
Kurt Cobain was hailed as an icon of Generation X — which embraced the singer's pioneering grunge rock and raspy rebel yell as their own.
Cobain's band, Nirvana, put Seattle's music scene on the map and blew up the charts with hits like "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Come As You Are" and "Heart-Shaped Box." But the immense success and attention Cobain received from his music troubled him, causing him to fall deeper into drugs and depression. Cobain's turbulent marriage to fellow rocker and addict Courtney Love also exacerbated his downward spiral, and in the spring of 1994, he decided to end his life with a gunshot to the head.
Jimi Hendrix (1942 - 1970)
Gyrating fuzz, distortion and feedback through his electric guitar in a way no other musician had before him, Jimi Hendrix introduced a new way of sourcing sound in mainstream rock and is considered "the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music" by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
After playing in various bands starting in the early 1960s, Hendrix was discovered in England by Keith Richards' girlfriend Linda Keith in 1966. Soon after, his career would take off with his newly formed band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and earn him a trio of top ten hits in the United Kingdom. But Hendrix's star would burn bright for only four short years. In 1968, his final album, Electric Ladyland, shot to No. 1, and his history-making performance of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the Woodstock Festival was just a year later, but it wasn't long before he was found dead from a drug overdose.
Brian Jones (1942 - 1969)
Founder and original frontman of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones was a lover of the blues, which was the musical direction he envisioned the band would follow. An artistic innovator, Jones was one of the first Brits to play slide guitar, and he later became a multi-instrumentalist. His seven years with the Rolling Stones were crucial in laying out the band's foundation, but his growing tension with the band's manager began contributing to his downfall.
It didn't help that Jones was heavily abusing drugs and alcohol around the same time, which caused him to be unreliable and erratic, estranging him from the rest of the band. In June 1969, Mick Jagger and Richards asked him to leave the group. A few weeks later, Jones was found dead in his pool.
Janis Joplin (1943 - 1970)
Inspired by legendary blues artists such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, Janis Joplin would become a legend herself with her fiery performances and unforgettable raw and soulful voice, which captivated audiences during the cultural upheaval of the 1960s.
After making her mark as the lead singer of the band Big Brother and the Holding Company and wowing audiences at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 with her performance of "Ball and Chain," Joplin pursued a solo career, which shot her to the top of the music charts with hits like "Me and Bobby McGee," "Piece of My Heart" and her original tune "Mercedes Benz." While she enjoyed some of her meteoric rise as a pioneering artist, Joplin's heavy drug addiction led to her accidental heroin overdose in 1970.
Jim Morrison (1943 - 1971)
If hippie counterculture could be embodied in a soul, that soul would belong to Jim Morrison. A singer, lyricist and poet, Morrison would emerge as one of the most influential frontmen in rock n' roll, thanks to his gritty voice and mesmerizing performances and lyrics.
Along with Ray Manzarek, Morrison founded The Doors, which would go on to produce six successful studio albums. As a wordsmith, Morrison wrote and co-wrote many of the band's hits, including "Light My Fire," "People Are Strange," "Moonlight Mile," "Hello, I Love You" and "Roadhouse Blues." Morrison would be cemented as a rock icon when he was found dead in his Paris apartment on July 3, 1971, exactly two years after Jones. The cause of his death remains a mystery.
Amy Winehouse (1983 - 2011)
Raised in a jazz-loving household, Amy Winehouse was just 19 when she drew in audiences with her debut album Frank. Mixing soul, R&B, reggae and jazz into her artistry, the beehive wig-wearing chanteuse produced Back to Black a few years later in 2006, transforming her into a record-breaking Grammy Award winner.
But Winehouse found it difficult to enjoy the fruits of her labor. Known for her self-destructive behavior and addiction issues, the singer would sometimes arrive tipsy to her own performances and in some instances, was booed offstage for being incoherent. After canceling a slew of shows in June 2011 to sort herself out, Winehouse died the next month from alcohol poisoning.
Robert Johnson (1911 - 1938)
1936 and 1937 were history-making for the blues. Those were the years that itinerant bluesman Robert Johnson recorded 29 songs for the American Record Corporation, which would become the totality of his life's work. The Mississippi native's soulful vocals and lyrics, along with his masterful guitar skills, would later influence his reputation as King of the Delta Blues Singers, and he'd have immeasurable influence over subsequent generations of rock artists such as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Robert Plant and the Rolling Stones.
Johnson's musical talent was so otherworldly that it was said that he sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for it. His biography is shrouded in mystery and became further mythologized after he was found dead on the side of a country road in 1938. Some believe he died of poisoning from a jealous wife's husband.