We live in a day when conspiracy theories run rampant, much of it is fueled by the internet. I am not one for denying all the theories out there, I am sure there is a little truth mixed into a lot of them, but I don’t know enough about most of them to challenge them.
When it comes to the music business, having been it since the sixties and traveling and working with many of the legends, I feel a little more comfortable separating the myths from the reality.
One of the most enduring myths about music and death concerns the idea that the age of 27 is especially hazardous for performers.
Amy Winehouse was 27 when she died in 2011. So were Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, and Jim Morrison. Indeed, if you start the count in 1892 with the death of pianist Alexandre Levy, 50 recording artists have died at that age.
The apparent spooky coincidence, however, starts to disintegrate when you discover that, at least according to Wikipedia, since the passing of Ms Winehouse, only three more 27-year-old musos have added to the tally, none of them (with due respect) household names.
Professor Kenny’s rigorous analysis of age and death of 13,000 musicians revealed that keeling over at 27 isn’t anything special at all. “I found that in terms of sheer numbers there were equal numbers who died at 26 and 28, and slightly more who died at 32,” she said.
“The median age of death was 56. Form a statistical perspective, 27 is no more probable for the age of early death of musicians than almost any other number.” The concept of the “27 Club”, she said, grew out of the star status of Hendrix, Winehouse and the rest of what she termed the “big six”.
By the way, one of my favorite drummers back in the day, Keith Moon, made it to 32 years old. The fact that he made it past 27 is probably a major feat. Alice Cooper probably said it best “he was a walking insane asylum”