‘Live fast, die young.” That’s the philosophy followed by many in the entertainment business. More than one or two hard-living stars have died young but have you heard about the famous but mysterious 27 Club? Also, what has the 27 Club got to do with white lighters?
Is the club a lie? Is it a conspiracy? Is there a supernatural link? Is it simply coincidence? You decide.
What is the 27 Club?
The 27 Club’s is a cultural phenomenon with a membership sharing several things and one major fact in common.
- They are involved in the public eye, mainly entertainers, artists and even some athletes.
- They have all become a figurehead for their generation and well known in their particular field.
- PLUS, and this is the kicker, they all died at the tender age of 27 years old.
If a handful of similar stars died meeting the criteria it would not be noteworthy but it’s the sheer weight of numbers and the prominence of many members that makes the 27 Club remarkable.
Who’s in the club?
There are many, many members but some of the more noteworthy are listed below:
- Robert Johnson
Fame:Blues singer and musician
Official cause of death: Unkown (possibly poisoning)
Date of Death: August 16, 1938
- Rudy Lewis
Fame: Vocalist with The Drifters
Official cause of death: Drug overdose
Date of Death: May 20, 1964
- Brian Jones
Fame: Rolling Stones cofounder, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist
Official cause of death: Drowned in a swimming pool; coroner’s report states “death by misadventure
Date of Death: July 3, 1969
- Jimi Hendrix
Fame: Pioneering electric guitarist, singer and songwriter for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys
Official cause of death: Asphyxiation
Date of Death: September 18, 1970
- Janis Joplin
Fame: Lead vocalist and songwriter for Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band
Official cause of death: Drug overdose (probably heroin)
Date of Death: October 4, 1970
- Jim Morrison
Fame: Singer, lyricist, and leader of the Doors
Official cause of death: Heart failure
Date of Death: July 3, 1971
- Kurt Cobain
Fame: Founding member, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for Nirvana
Official cause of death: Suicide by gunshot
Date of Death: April 5, 1994
- Jade Goody
Fame: Reality-television personality
Official cause of death: Cervical cancer
Date of Death: March 22, 2009
- Amy Winehouse
Official cause of death: Alcohol poisoning
Date of Death: July 23, 2011
What are the various explanations for the 27 Club?
Many people have various ideas of how the club has come into existence. These reasons include but are not limited to:
The most simple explanation and most logical is of course simple coincidence – no more, no less.
People die young in all jobs but the entertainment industry, the arts and the arena of popular sports can be dangerous places. They offer a wide array of treacherous vices just waiting to be sampled and abused by the unsuspecting and ill-advised.
Who is more susceptible to these vices than young stars with too much money, too much time, an artistic temperament or seeking to gain a competitive edge and surrounded by too many enablers?
It’s not known if any studies have been made to compare the age of 27 with any other specific young ages connected to the death of other similar people. That’s why coincidence is the reason many people believe the 27 Club is around.
A deal with the Devil
This is the most fascinating explanation for the origins of the 27 Club.
It’s believed the members of The 27 Club have all signed a contract with the Devil to achieve fame and fortune in their chosen fields.
The most often cited of these is blues American musician Robert Johnson. It is said Johnson was a dirt poor plantation worker and unskilled guitar player but he was desperate for success and all the trappings that came with it. So desperate in fact, he was willing to do anything.
After hearing a voice telling him to do so, one balmy moonlit night at midnight, he took his guitar to the crossroads in Rosedale Mississippi by old Dockery’s plantation. As the crickets chirped Johnson was approached by a large black man who was actually the Devil himself. The man took the guitar from Johnson, tuned it and strummed a few tunes before handing it back to Johnson who was instantly able to play as skilfully as anyone. That was how they brokered a deal where Johnson would instantly become a master of the blues guitar in exchange for his soul upon the time of his death.
In 1938, aged of 27, Johnson was reportedly poisoned and died. The fate of his soul is unknown.
The story of Robert Johnson’s deal with the Devil was given the Hollywood treatment in 1986 with the release of the acclaimed movie ‘Crossroads’ directed by Walter Hill and starring Karate Kid/Cobra Kai actor Ralph Macchio. Although predominantly a drama, the movie leans heavily on Robert Johnson’s pact with the Devil to weave a very interesting story and is well worth a watch.
This theory reads much like the deal with the Devil theory and in some ways it’s indirectly linked to it too.
There are people claiming the shadowy, esoteric death cult known as the Illuminati are responsible for the 27 Club’s existence.
The wicked, secretive power cult entices young vulnerable people offering them success, along with a few good years. This would last until the age of 27 when they would then be sacrificed to their deity – usually taking the form of Satan who in turn provides the Illuminati its own power to covertly run the world as payment.
There are other explanations floating around claiming to offer a reason behind the existence of the club but those above are the main contenders.
And finally… …The White Lighter Curse
The white lighter curse or white lighter myth is an urban legend strongly linked to the 27 Club.
The myth claims several notable people including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain (all members of the 27 Club) died while owning a white lighter, usually described as a white BIC lighter. This has lead white lighters to become associated with bad luck.
As to what significance the white lighter actually has in these cases is not known.
Although discredited by many, including internet fact-checking site Snopes.com, the white lighter curse still surfaces from time to time and continues to stir the imaginations of many.
What do you think about the 27 Club? Which theory do you think is true and do you have a conspiracy you would love to be true? Let us know.
Sources and further reading:
© Colin Lawson Books