The Curse Of The 27 Club Or Apophenia?

Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse have many commonalities. They were all iconic musicians, avid drug users, profoundly talented, and all died at the age of 27. Is it possible that they made a deal with the devil? Fame in exchange for their souls – death deciding the collection date. Is this a curse, or is it merely a conspiracy theory of a cultural phenomenon?

The 27 Club, as far as documentation shows, began in 1892, and up until today has claimed 63 members. Membership to this elite club has specific conditions:

1. You must be a musician
2. You must be 27
3. You must be talented on a level that supersedes this dimension.
4. Not a necessity, but highly recommended: Have a drug problem.

Of these 63 members, there have been deaths that could be considered unusual in nature, while others more common – especially considering the typical lifestyle of a rock and roll star. Further research finds that of these 63 members, death has been the result of:

10 Drug Overdoses
10 Car Accidents
7 Murders
5 Suicides
4 Aeroplane Accidents
4 Heart Complications
4 Instances Of Poisoning
2 Cancer
2 Instances Asphyxiation

There have also been some other more unusual deaths, such as:
Neurosyphilitic sclerosis, electrocution, gastrointestinal haemorrhage, injuries sustained by falling off a horse, pulmonary edema, disappearance, subarachnoid haemorrhage, kidney failure, and accidental blunt traumatic asphyxia.

My question however is, of these deaths, while they may not be directly caused by drug use, how many of these can we link to the use of drugs? Without going into each individual case, lets take a logical look at these causes, and see if it is feasible that they could have some link to drug use.

Car accident – driving while under the influence?
Murder – did they owe drug dealers money and got killed for that?
Suicides – is it possible that there was an adverse chemical reaction in the brain causing depression and ultimately leading to suicide?
Heart complications – after many years of hard drugs, is it possible that the heart just gave up?
Asphyxiation – Jimi Hendrix overdosed on drugs and asphyxiated on his own vomit, so I guess there is a possibility that there is a direct link to the use of drugs to the majority of these deaths.

Apophenia is the tendency to attribute meaning to perceived connections or patterns between seemingly unrelated things. It’s part of our genetic makeup to do this, we have this tendency built into us because it is part of our survival mechanism. We have this for two reasons, firstly, as cavemen, we needed to recognise patterns in order to survive, for food, water, and shelter, secondly, much later on we needed to find purpose in our existence – religion is the the pinnacle of finding patterns and attributing meaning to the perceived connections, it gave us god, an subsequently purpose, something that the pre-literate man needed in order to rationalise their existence.

I would love nothing more than to find out that Amy Winehouse made a deal with the devil for her voice, offering up her soul for a sound that can make my hair stand on end, a sound that hits me to the very core. To know that Jimi Hendrix wasn’t an ordinary man who just learnt how to play the guitar – but that talent like that came from the supernatural, that’s why I could never possess those kind of skills, not because I lack the talent or discipline. It makes us feel better to know that there is something sinister behind their creativity, to think that they cheated in some way. This is just a small insight into the strange world of humanity, and the strange things we do in order to survive.

3 thoughts on “The Curse Of The 27 Club Or Apophenia?

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