The 27 Club

This past Saturday, the singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment. Although the authorities (police and other government agencies) are still determining how she died, the singer had a long history with drug abuse (being addicted to or reliant on illegal drugs).  Amy Winehouse was 27 years old.

It’s tragic (very sad) that such a talented singer has died at this young age.  However, she’s not alone.  Also dying at 27 were  Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain.  This has been called “The 27 Club.”

Is there something about the magic number of 27?  Probably not, but one writer in the Washington Post suggested one reason we remember these singers:

“Their swirling mythologies congeal around a relatively small body of work. Many of these artists were young visionaries who left bold marks but didn’t live long enough to slide into mediocrity.”

Mythology is a set of stories about a person, place, or event that might explain why things are the way they are. For example, we all know about the Greek and Roman myths or mythology and in every culture there is a mythology about how the world was created.

To congeal means for a liquid to become more solid, often because the temperature has cooled.  This is what happens when I leave my dirty dishes in the sink overnight.  The next morning, the dishes have a congealed mess on them that I have to clean off.

A body of work is a collection of what an artist, musician, writer, or any person who does something creative produces over a period of time, often over one’s lifetime.  ESL Podcast’s body of work now includes over 1000 podcasts.

Many of those who died young and whom we still remember were considered visionaries, or people who have big and important ideas about what to do or what to create.  To leave a mark on something means to have a major influence on something or to affect something a lot.

Finally, to slide is to move smoothly over a surface, so to slide into mediocrity means to move without any difficulty or interruption over time into being average, or nothing special.

Amy Winehouse had produced only two albums (CD’s) before she died.  Her biggest hit was “Back in Black,” followed by a song called “Rehab,” which talked about her own troubles with drug use. When artists die young, we create our own mythology about who they were, what they represented, and why it happened.  Only time will tell (we’ll only know in the future) what type of mythology will develop about her.

Do you like or admire any other musicians, artists, actors, etc. for whom a mythology has developed?

~ Lucy

Photo Credit:  Newport Cemetery from Wikipedia



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13 Responses to The 27 Club

  1. Peter says:

    Indeed Eslpod is tried and true
    Dear Lucy,
    I heard in the news about her and the club 27
    She found dead in her house in London
    Still don’t know the true reason of her untimly death
    An Soeaciall frensic team is investigating the reasons behind it
    And ,the result no matter what would be shocking as it Is the norm for all the famouse artists or celebrities who dies yong,at the peak of their time or their career
    However,it is a sad news
    But,she had lost her touch in recent years. It was like his talent is depleting for the drug and alcohol addiction.
    She would forget the lyrics of her song while performing on the stage
    And ,she happened to loose her balance in several occasions
    And her last concert were canceled
    I once saw people booed her out of stage
    She was a talented singer with a warm voice.
    It is a Shame.
    Thanks Lucy for the post

  2. John says:

    “Do you like or admire any other musicians, artists, actors, etc. for whom a mythology has developed?”

    Michael Jackson was the first name which came into my mind – People might have different opinions about his private life but I guess everyone would agree that his music and the way he
    performed was revolutionary. I’ve never been a die-hard Michael Jackson fan, I don’t even possess any Michael Jackson CD, but I like most of his songs.

  3. Peter says:

    Would u spell
    Road scholar ship
    Is it roads or road
    Would you spell it out

  4. Rasoul says:

    Hi Lucy,

    Our culture has developed lots of artists, actors, musician, etc. which some of them has worldwide reputation, but some of them has more reputation for Iranian because they have an art which is national and local for Iranian such as Traditional Iranian Song. Through the path of history just few highly talented people existed. In the field of art we have some great people such as Mr. Farshchian, who is famous Iranian miniaturist, Mr. Shajarian, most famous traditional singer, etc.
    All these artists experienced a lot of tries in their lives until they could reach to this level of art. They tried a lot to acquire every skill of their art area from special teacher.
    Also in our culture we have these famous proverb: “??? ???? ?? ???? ??? ????” which means” Art is better than gold” and” “??? ?? ?? ??? ????? ????which means” we can change soil to gold with art” and also a”??? ??? ???????? ??? ? ??” which means “art is completely with Persian “, these show that in our culture we highly value to art and artist.
    Artists in the society are role model for nations, but unfortunately I have heard occasionally that some artists are drug abuser or they acting some illegal activities.
    To sum up I want to reiterate that art and artists are have highly value in our culture and most of the time artists are role model in society, so it is better for them in their private life preserve themselves for their society, not going to The 27 Club! So early in their life.


  5. Myo ko ko says:

    Speaking of mythology of a musician or artist,
    I think I am sort of guy who is not interested in their mythologies so much.
    I just purely feel their works that I like so much.That is all.
    To me what counts is just their works (especially songs).
    But in daily life, I hear a lots of theirs even if I don’t pay attention to them. Sometimes they are good news, sometimes bad ones.

  6. sara says:

    Thanks Dear Lucy for it. I agree 100% with John. It sounds like he wrote what was in my mind!

  7. Dan says:


    Let me think,…. Who I admire? I would say Carl Sagan whom I got to know thanks to youtube.
    I did not know him, he’s/ was popular, I guess mainly in the U.S. as a popularizer of science and astronomy during the eighties.
    I enjoyed every episode of Cosmos on youtube.

  8. emiliano says:

    I do not understand what could be inside the mind of these young people who died so young in the middle of a big succeed, popularity and

    It is possible that being a genius in art, music or literature has nothing to do with human quality virtues or even for these people is extremely
    difficult to digest all the sudden celebrity exit and richness that conducts them to the edge of dangerous aptitudes.

    May be this girl have not developed all these drugs addictions if she would be a normal grey human being with a routine life.

    There a lot of artist, actress and actors, lot of singers that have died really very young in the middle of a great popularity and exit:

    Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Rudy Lewis, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bryan Ottoson, Janis Joplin, Kristen,
    Jeremy Michael Ward, Jim Morrison …..
    A list of more than 30 singers and musicians that have died at the age of 27.

    But if we see actress/actors there are a lot of them who have the same fatal outcome:
    River Phoenix (23), Heath Ledger (28), Brandon Lee (28), Jonathan Brandis (27)
    Jean Harlow (26), Brad Renfro (25), Francoise Dorleac (25), James Dean (24), Matthew Garber (21)
    and several more by different deceases or murders.

    Some writers use to drink a lot, we know several of them that have died after a life of
    drunkenness or other addictions, few of them also commit suicide as the end of their unhappy
    life once exit is out of their expectedness.
    It is always a mystery who is happening inside the mind of a person, but even more when
    these people have to face sudden success, exit, popularity and oblivion.
    Too much for the majority of human beings.

    They will be always young in the memory of time and frequently as myths for future
    generations, somehow is a good reward for them after all.

    Rest in peace all of them.

  9. Hilario says:

    WIKI HELP: Hi Peter, I think I was having the same doubt about that word and had a look on “greatestpedia”. The Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for study at the University of Oxford, UK.

  10. Peter says:

    Thanks Hilario,
    Jeff always spells this kind of words
    I don’t why this time around he didn’t

  11. Sergio says:

    This month I’ve been in Camden. Camden is the place in which Amy Winehouse lived.
    Her life is a very sad thing to think. But… I think people like Amy are not so far from me.
    It looks like… (my English cannot help me!) they make something for us too…
    I used to play – I play the guitar like Jeff sing, we can say, just a little bit worse… – “You know I’m no good”.
    (You can find it in “Back to black”, 2nd track.)
    “Hear to believe”, an Italian could say.
    Amy was not a star, she was simply a person. A good person!

  12. Nele says:

    For me she has had a wonderful voice, a big feeling for music, a gift from nature.

    To be a celebrity is a difficult thing I think. People around you have so much expectations. What can such a person do with her/his normal self-doubt. Where is the ground under the feet? For “young people” it may be a big problem. The personality is´nt so strong and self-contained as it is often necessary. I think everyone needs “strong partners” in life – realy good friends, parents, wife or husband, less have this strongness inside. Amy Whinehouse have had this wonderfull voice, this big feeling for music, but not the strongness inside to live with this talent and all the expectations around her. I hope she has found her peace.


  13. Next door says:

    you reap what you have sown

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