What Is The 27 Club? Plus, 18 Celebrities Who All Mysteriously Died At The Age Of 27

They call it the "27 Club."

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The 27 Club is the name they give for the absurd number of celebrities who died at 27 years of age. When you're 27, you have so much life ahead of you; you're an adult but you're not old, and the possibilities reach out far ahead of you. 

Dying at 27 is one way to stay young forever, and these stars will always be remembered in their prime, but the price they paid was with their lives.

It's beyond sad to think of a life cut short, especially the life of an artist. We'll never know what amazing things they could have accomplished had they lived longer or what they could have contributed to society. 


What we can do is be grateful for the wonderful legacies they left behind. They may not have been on earth for an extremely long time, but they made a difference with their presence.

Although some of these celebrities died of freak accidents and disease, it's disheartening how many died from drug overdoses or alcohol-related causes. They say that life tends to be difficult for those who are sensitive and artistic. Was the fame too much for them to handle and drugs gave them a way to escape the pressures that they faced? 

Let's hope these artists are finally at peace.

1. Amy Winehouse


Although the British R&B and soul singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse had been struggling with alcohol and drug addiction for years, it still came as a terrible shock when she died of alcohol poisoning.

A neighbor claimed that there was screaming, howling, and some kind of drum-beating coming from her house the night she died.

2. Kurt Cobain


The Seattle grunge singer-songwriter and front man for the band Nirvana died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

He was referred to as the "spokesman of a generation" but the attention he received made him feel uncomfortable. He struggled with alcohol abuse and drug addiction.

3. Robert Johnson


The legendary blues guitarist drank whiskey laced with Strychnine and died in a convulsive state of severe pain — not a pleasant way to die.

4. Jim Morrison

The lead singer of The Doors, writer, poet, and songwriter died in a bathtub in Paris, though the definitive cause is unknown as there was no autopsy. The cause of death is listed on his death certificate as "heart failure" but most people assume it was a heroin overdose.


Although it's been decades since he was buried, fans still flock to Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris to pay their respects.

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5. Jean-Michel Basquiat

Painter, graffiti artist, friend, and collaborator of Andy Warhol. When Warhol passed away in 1987, Basquiat became depressed and turned to drugs to ease his pain. He died of a drug (speedball) overdose.


6. Jimi Hendrix

One of the most gifted guitarists in the history of popular music. Hendrix inspired his contemporaries and artists who came after him such as Prince and Lenny Kravitz.

Hendrix died in a London hotel room under mysterious circumstances. According to the physician on the scene, Hendrix asphyxiated (literally drowned) in his own vomit which mainly consisted of red wine.


7. Brian Jones

One of the founding members of The Rolling Stones was known for his mood swings and substance abuse. However, he didn't die from an overdose but by drowning in the pool at his home in Sussex, England.

The specifics of his death are unknown, but the coroner's report stated "Death by misadventure" and noted that his liver and heart were enlarged by drug and alcohol abuse.


8. Anton Yelchin

Originally from Russia, this young actor was best known for his role as "Chekov" in the big-screen Star Trek reboots. His promising future was cut short when his parked Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward on his steep driveway, pinning him against a brick pillar and security fence. 

9. Jonathan Brandis


Jonathan, who starred in the original It and Neverending Story II, died by hanging himself in his LA apartment. Friends said that he had been depressed about his stalled career.

10. Pete Ham

Pete was the face and guitarist of the band Badfinger. Badfinger were poised to be the next Beatles and had several hits including "Come and Get It," but due to double dealings on the part of the band's financial representative and some bad luck, the band saw little of the money that was due then.


Financially strapped, Pete thought the only way out of his troubles was to hang himself.

11. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan


Known as the heart and soul of The Grateful Dead, Pigpen was known for his hard living and his equally hard drinking. After years of not taking care of himself, he died of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to his drinking.

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12. Reggie Lewis


Reggie was a member of the Boston Celtics and he died of a sudden heart attack on the court during an off-season practice. Although he was only 27 when he died, he was already a husband, father, community leader, NBA All-Star, and the Captain of the Celtics.

13. Lea De Mae (aka Andrea Absolonova)

Lea was a member of the Czech diving team who injured her spine while training for the 1996 Olympics. After she retired from diving, she made over 80 adult films. She died of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.


14. Pat Tilman

Pat was an American football player and soldier who died from friendly fire aggravated by the intensity of the firefight. The circumstances regarding the death were investigated by the US Congress and there were allegations that he was deliberately targeted (murdered).

15. Mia Zapata


Mia was the lead singer of the Seattle grunge-punk band The Gits.

In 1993, after leaving a bar, Mia was attacked, beaten, raped and strangled to death by a man named Jesus Mezquia. He was apprehended and sentenced to 37 years in prison, ten years longer than Mia's short life.


16. Pete de Freitas

Pete was the drummer for the band Echo and the Bunnymen. While he did have some troubles with drugs, they weren't what killed him. Pete died when his motorcycle collided with a car between Liverpool and London.

17. Kristen Pfaff


Kristen was a gifted bassist and a member of the bands Janitor Joe, and Hole. She had developed a drug habit that she had seemingly kicked after a stint in a Minneapolis detox center. However, she must have lapsed as she was found dead in her apartment after overdosing on heroin.

18. Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin was known as The First Lady of rock 'n' roll and was one of the biggest rock stars of her era (the 1960s). After releasing three albums, she died of a heroin overdose.


A fourth album, Pearl, was released posthumously and reached #1 on the Billboard charts.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and teacher who loves writing and performing personal narratives. She's had pieces in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Woman's Day, Purple Clover, Bustle, and is a regular contributor to Ravishly and YourTango. Check out her website or her Facebook page.