Groucho Marx said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” If you are a musician, The 27 Club is one to which you do not want to belong. It’s a collection of famous rock stars who died at the age of 27. Members include Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Brian Jones.
On April 5, 17 years after he died, Kurt Cobain was honored with a guitar statue in his hometown of Aberdeen and many fans used Twitter to remember him.
My favorite 27 Club members are Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix. While I wasn’t alive yet when Joplin and Hendrix passed away, their music has influenced me from the time I was a child.
Cobain died when I was in high school, and his music included all of the teen angst that most teenagers experienced. I remember watching MTV, when they still showed primarily music videos, and seeing Nirvana videos that, while confusing, made as much sense as anything at the time. High school is usually a time of confusion, insecurity, and lack of self-confidence. Watching “(Smells Like) Teen Spirit” let most of us know that we weren’t alone, and the turmoil we felt was normal.
Jimi Hendrix influenced countless guitarists, from heavy metal and hard rock to blues and funk. Without his work, music today could be drastically different. When I want to blare great guitar music, I reach for some of his work. Regardless of my mood, some piece of his work will reflect that.
Janis Joplin is perhaps my absolute favorite musician in The 27 Club. Her voice is captivating, mesmerizing, and haunting to me. I’ve found that I’m not able to be unhappy when singing along to her songs, and love to crank the volume and sing along in the car.
I also have a special memory of her song “Mercedes Benz.” When I was young, my father and I would often sing the song. My sister HATED it. We used to drive her crazy singing the lyrics a capella. Any time I was being impish, I’d ask that we sing, in part because I knew she would become upset. At my wedding, my father and his friends requested “Mercedes Benz” and serenaded us!
When you think of The 27 Club, imagine how different music today would be had Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin not joined The 27 Club.