ONE of the stranger stories about Amy Winehouse’s death, a year ago tomorrow, is that she predicted it.
Well, not exactly, but she was aware of what has become known as the 27 club, or the curse of 27, and talked about it. A long list of famous musicians have died at that age – Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones, Robert Johnson and Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers. Johnson is a particularly potent example, given the stories around him supposedly selling his soul to the devil.
All this is enough to strike fear into any singer in their mid-twenties with serious health problems. And so it was with Winehouse. And then she died at 27 too.
The curse of 27 is easy enough to debunk. Sid Vicious was 21 when he died (from drugs, like many members of the 27 club). Ian Curtis of Joy Division was 23. Tupac Shakur was 25. Biggie Smalls was 24. (Perhaps the curse catches rappers earlier). Jeff Buckley – whose freakish, catastrophically unlucky death while out for a swim is exactly the kind of fate that might make you suspect a curse was involved – made it to 30, having spent his 27th birthday riding high on the success of his debut album, Grace. And Elvis Presley, perhaps pop’s most famous drug casualty, was 42. You get the point.
The death of Winehouse, though, has created a new wave of interest in the supposed curse of 27. The Edinburgh Fringe – always a good barometer of contemporary concerns – has three separate shows called The 27 Club – one by Scottish actor and musician John Kielty, one by Irish musician Jack Lukeman, one by Frisky and Mannish. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of mileage these shows manage to get out of the idea next month, given how shaky its foundations are. Kielty, in a recent magazine interview, proved to be an encyclopedia of spooky 27 facts. Did you know that there are 27 books in the New Testament? Uh-oh, you know you’re in trouble when the Bible gets involved (for the record, Kielty doesn’t appear to be taking any of this very seriously, although his audience might).
If you do believe all this numerological nonsense, of course, you may also believe the world is going to end this year (Google 2012 if this is news to you, which it surely can’t be after that ridiculous movie with John Cusack). So it’s probably safer just to reflect on what a toxic combination youth, fame, money and a ready supply of very addictive drugs continues to be – and on how incapable the music industry still is of protecting its young, over 40 years after that first wave of rock deaths.
• Last week Andrew... was slightly disappointed at the original Sugababes’ mundane new choice of name: Mutya Keisha Siobhan. Were they not at all tempted by Origibabes? Or (my personal favourite) Whatevababes?
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west