“Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club.”
Wendy Fradenburg Cobain O’Connor (the mother of Kurt Cobain, reacting to the death of her son, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain)
There is a great new article out by author Sean Braswell which is entitled Why Rock Stars Die Young and you can read it here. Braswell does a good job of helping us try to wrap our heads around this phenomenon of why indeed some of our stars have died so young. Braswell also references the “27 Club” and this is a group you don’t want to belong to; it represents well-known artists who have died at the age of 27 largely because of drug or alcohol issues. That’s an age which is much too soon for anyone regardless of whether you are an artist or not.
To put it in perspective, here are some of the prominent members of the “27 Club”:
Jimi Hendrix (1970)
Janis Joplin (1970)
Jim Morrison (1971)
Gary Thain (Uriah Heep) (1975)
Kurt Cobain (1994), and
Amy Winehouse (2011).
A chilling quote from Braswell’s piece is this:
“Indeed, according to the alarming findings of one new study, pop musicians more broadly tend to live up to 25 years less on average than the rest of us, and have much higher rates of death by accident, suicide and homicide.”
What is it that drives this phenomenon for those that believe it exists? Is it the sudden rush of fame and fortune that mirrors the emotion one encounters when they discover a winning lottery ticket? Is it the pressure of success when one is not prepared (or more importantly equipped) to handle it? Or, does your celebrity status attract different forces that really don’t help but put one in harm’s way?
Either way, it’s a topic that deserves attention. It appears that sometimes we are so focused and consumed on the artist’s success and their career that we ignore the fact that the ship–although a luxury liner–is also taking on water. Let’s start with awareness of the issue and make that the first step to closing the doors on this unfortunate club.