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In death, Winehouse joins ‘27s’
Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison among pop music stars in ‘club’
Question of the Day
Amy Winehouse released only two albums in her life, one of which sold more than a million copies, won five Grammys and sparked a retro-soul movement that hasn’t yet stopped.
The small output, in inverse relation to her outsized talent, made her death Saturday in London all the more tragic. Fans will only be able to imagine the unrecorded singles, the never-to-be concerts and the comeback album that didn’t come.
It’s a sadly familiar script in pop music, the history of which is checkered with greats and would-be greats snuffed out too early in life.
Almost as soon as news of Miss Winehouse’s death broke and spread across social media, fans were inducting her into the unfortunate pantheon of music talents gone too soon. Many noted that Miss Winehouse, 27, shared the same age at death as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison.
The British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, though, realized that a meaningful commonality was being mistaken for coincidence.
Those names were touted on the Web as the 27 Club, a ghoulish glamourizing of rock-star death that makes it sound as though even in death VIPs remain behind a seductive velvet rope. It’s a term, sometimes called the Forever 27 Club, that has spawned a Wikipedia entry, an independent 2008 movie (“The 27 Club”), numerous websites and at least one book (“The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll”).
The causes of death vary. Jones, the Rolling Stones guitarist, was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool in 1969 and was ruled dead “by misadventure.” Hendrix, having mixed sleeping pills and wine, died in 1970 in a London hotel room. Joplin, also in 1970, died at Los Angeles' Landmark Hotel, with heroin the culprit. Morrison died of heart failure in 1971 in the bathtub of his Paris apartment. Cobain killed himself in 1994.
Some have claimed Cobain was aware of the so-called 27 Club. After his death, his mother, Wendy O'Connor, was understandably fed up with the concept, saying: “I told him not to join that stupid club.”
The cause of Miss Winehouse’s death is not yet known. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
She long struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. Last month, she canceled her European comeback tour after she swayed and slurred her way through barely recognizable songs in her first show in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. She flew home, and her management said she would take time off to recover.
On Sunday, a British newspaper reported that her mother said the singer seemed unwell a day before she died, while her family mourned the loss of “a wonderful daughter, sister, niece” and more tributes flowed in from fans and fellow performers.
A mound of flowers, messages and handwritten notes grew Sunday outside of the north London home, where ambulance crews found the singer dead before they arrived on Saturday.
“R.I.P. Never Forgotten,” read one message, while another said “It’s all right, love. Go now.”
The Sunday Mirror quoted Janis Winehouse as saying she thought it was “only a matter of time” before her daughter died. The 27-year-old singer had publicly struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for years.
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