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“The deaths of these rock stars at the age of 27 really changed the way we look at rock music,” National Public Radio’s Robert Smith said during an interview with author Eric Segalstad.
Depending on your preference, The 27s is a pop culture phenomenon, a weird curse, or a statistical anomaly. Excess and tragedy are the stuff of music legend, but it is only with hindsight that deeper patterns emerge. None of these is more striking than the deaths at age 27 of some of the greatest musicians of our time.
More famous musicians have died at the age of 27 than any other age. More than three dozen rockers, from Delta bluesmaster Robert Johnson to Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse.
The 27s also include crooner Jesse Belvin (“Earth Angel,” “Goodnight My Love”), Rudy Lewis of the Drifters, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Malcolm Hale of Spanky And Our Gang, Alan Wilson from Canned Heat, Arlester Christian of Dyke And the Blazers, Jim Morrison, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan of the Grateful Dead, Pete Ham of Badfinger, Gary Thain of Uriah Heep and Keef Hartley Band, Roger Lee Durham of Bloodstone, Helmut Köllen of Triumvirat, Chris Bell of Big Star, D. Boon of Minutemen, Pete de Freitas of Echo & the Bunnymen, Mia Zapata of the Gits, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Kristin Pfaff of Hole, Raymond “Freaky Tah” Rogers of Lost Boyz, Sean McCabe of Ink & Dagger, Jeremy Michael Ward of De Facto and The Mars Volta, Bryan Ottoson of American Head Charge, and Valentin Elizalde.