Key Notes - an Irish music blog by Steven O'Rourke

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Key Notes Joins The 27 Club

Sep 10

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Thursday, September 10, 2009  RssIcon

Well, hopefully not, but as Key Notes turns 27 he takes a morbid look at the number of musicians who have shuffled off their mortal coil at such a relatively young age.

It will probably come as no surprise, but I don't remember much about my birth.  I know I was a reluctant child; if my Mam is to be believed she was in labour longer than Pat Rabbitte.  I do remember most of my birthdays though, even the one that everyone else forgot. Unfortunately, John Hughes didn't make a movie about me (probably because I wasn't a 16 year old American girl).  My most memorable birthday was probably my 21st, which I spent in hospital waiting for an operation to remove metal pins from my arm.  That was fun!

That's enough about me though, this blog is supposed to be about the statistical anomaly that has seen so many influential musicians who happen to die at my new age.  The 27 Club or the Forever 27 Club contains the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain.  Even Charles Cross, who has written two excellent biographies on Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, has stated that 'The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27.'  As many as 37 notable musicians have died at that age.

Cobain's entry to the 27 club had, perhaps, the most influence on me growing up and was, indeed, the first I heard of the 27 club.  There is a huge volume of text available on Cobain's death with many saying he timed his suicide so he good join the club.  Cobain of course was a student of rock history and this, it seems, is the main reason why many bloggers claim he killed himself.  What most don't tell you is that more than 30,000 Americans took their own lives in 1994, the year Cobain died, so it's not entirely surprising that someone, who had as many problems as Cobain did, joined them.

One aspect of the 27 club that, perhaps, has the greatest appeal (and you'd be surprised by the amount of people who actually want to join this club!) is that it is difficult to imagine any of its more prominent members reaching old age.  The idea of a 50 year old Jim Morrison fronting a Door's reunion tour doesn't sit comfortably.  Likewise, it is difficult to picture Jimi Hendrix or Brian Jones as old men.  On the other hand, how great would it be to hear that a new Nirvana album was coming out at the end of 2009? Either way, we'll never know.

Thankfully, Key Notes doesn't have either an outstanding body of work behind him or a face that might adorn a thousand t-shirts surrounding the central bank so he doesn't have to worry about joining the 27 club, even if he wanted to.  Really, this blog was just an excuse to let everyone know it was my birthday and to play this video:

Nirvana: Heart Shaped Box

Now I just have to reach Jesus' age to have an excuse to play that video again!

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3 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Key Notes Joins The 27 Club

"...it is difficult to picture Jimi Hendrix or Brian Jones as old men"
And not, say, Keith Richards or John Lydon? Funny how we mythologise the dead. And wait until you get to the age of Jesus - they even started a religion after him!!!

Aidan (just turned age-of-Jesus, awaiting start of his own religion.)

By aidan on   Thursday, September 10, 2009
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Re: Key Notes Joins The 27 Club

That's it though isn't it, for me Keith Richards and John Lydon have always been 'old' whereas Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones have always being young.

This religion you speak of, does it have any celebrity followers? Are there any bits of it that directly contradict other bits? If the answer to either/both those questions is no, then I'm in!

By Steve on   Thursday, September 10, 2009
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Re: Key Notes Joins The 27 Club

Would you consider as 'celebrities' unknown French indie acts who scour Google for their name and then complain that my good review of them isn't superlative enough and didn't mention their poetic lyrics? Would you consider as 'directly contradict[ory]' going off a band because they followed up a great single with a poor album? Ask yourself these questions; look into your soul; examine your conscience - you will find the answer within.

By aidan on   Thursday, September 10, 2009