Although extremely talented, Amy was known more for her skills in destroying her own reputation, sloppy performances and dangerous drug cocktail party binges so I was not exactly shocked when my friend Steve G-talked me the news… What I found interesting about this story was not that she died, but that she died at 27. The list for rockstars who had a drug overdose or killed themselves at precisely this exact age has been a phenomenon studied by many and coined the 27 club and the Forever 27 club.
When Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones died in 1969, who would have thought so many others would follow in his footsteps. It is not likely that the next 2 or 3 deaths were influenced as it was not a rockstar trend or even noticed by the media until Jimi Hendrix joined the club, and Janis Joplin less than 1 month later. Up until Jim Morrison’s death, the age 27 for rockstars was known to be strangely ill fated or cursed as the deaths were not planned until Kurt Cobain changed that.
Singer Neil Young sang: “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” a sentence that was found in the suicide note left by Kurt Cobain. Kurt Cobain could have died at any time, he committed suicide but he chose to do it when he was 27 years old after many legends were immortalized at the same age. It is terrible to think that someone would want to be in a death club or end their life for any reason but think about it… if you are already famous and have reached what you think is your peak of fame or capacity of talent, the road of a falling star is a path far scarier than death for a lot of idols. Why not stop right after a great EP, tour or headline and know how your biography ends.
Even if these stars had others reasons to kill themselves or be especially reckless during their 27th year, they knew what 27 meant. One really has to imagine that especially an overdose or a suicide AFTER Kurt Cobain made the 27 Club, has to be somewhat intentional. I was not a rockstar at 27 but I did think to myself, this is it. This is the age where they all did it…
Let’s put rock idols and suicides aside for a minute and take a look at what is going on at 27. Age 27 is said to be the point of no return for the biggest change that the personality will ever go through. It is the reason why often young 20 something women will grow out of the older men then marry when they get to that age. Often you switch careers, schooling, cities, friends, lifestyle and basically become aware of identity and who you will be for the rest of your LIFE.
Identity crisises are almost always in the late 20’s and mid 40’s when the human is faced with the fact that they have left a large chunk of youth behind and are expected to fit into their new age mold. It would not be crazy to assume that singers and artists in general already have a predisposition to want to hang onto their youth and defy convention, making 27 an especially ground breaking year as it quickly marks the last few late 20’s steps to the your first big O, the big 30. At 30 everyone in the Western world gets a feeling of
“F*ck, this IS my life, I’m all grown up…”
I am sad that I will never hear Amy Winehouse’s new stuff, and really feel for her family and friends but I don’t think Amy was fighting to live. I think she wanted to die and she did a good job at trying to die more than once. She is in a pretty good club all things considered. RIP and enjoy your eternal membership my dear to the 27 club…
“it’s better to burn out than to fade away” -Neil Young