What is the 27 Club? Celebrity members of the cult phenomenon - from Kurt Cobain to Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse

Nine years after the death of Amy Winehouse, other high profile figures have gone on to become part of the phenomenon called the ‘27 Club’

The 27 Club includes figures like Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin (Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

23 July marks the nine-year anniversary of the death of iconic British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who became part of the ‘27 Club’ when she passed away in 2011, aged 27.

But who else is in the 27 Club - and are celebrities more likely to die at 27?

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What is the 27 Club?

The ‘27 Club’ is a cultural phenomenon, highlighting the musicians, artists, actors and athletes who died at the age of 27, with many of the deaths linked to high-risk lifestyles.

This includes deaths that are the result of suicide, homicide, drug and alcohol abuse, or transportation-related accidents.

The idea first came about between 1969 and 1971 when Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison all died at the age of 27.

But it wasn’t until Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain died aged 27 in 1994 that the term ‘27 Club’ was first coined.

The club gained attention again in 2011 when Amy Winehouse died aged 27.

When a celebrity dies aged 27, their name is often put forward to be included in the list, but there’s no official membership.

Are celebrities more likely to die at 27?

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) released a study in 2011 looking into whether 27 is a dangerous age for famous musicians.

The study found that there was “no peak in risk around age 27, but the risk of death for famous musicians throughout their 20s and 30s was two to three times higher than the general UK population”.

The study concluded that “fame may increase the risk of death among musicians, but this risk is not limited to age 27”.

An article from the Independent, published in 2015, took a deep dive into the statistics behind the 27 Club, and found that there was no statistical evidence that showed that celebrities were more likely to die at 27.

Who are the members of the 27 Club?

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was born 14 September 1983 in north London.

Throughout her life, the singer songwriter struggled with alcohol addiction and drugs.

Winehouse passed away on July 23 2011. She was found dead by paramedics in her flat in Camden, north London, and there were empty bottles of vodka on the floor.

An inquest into the singer's death confirmed that she died from alcohol poisoning.

The inquest found that Winehouse had 416mg of alcohol per decilitre in her blood, which was enough to make her comatose and depress her respiratory system.

Brian Jones

Brian Jones was born 28 February 1842 and would go on to become the founder and original leader of The Rolling Stones.

He died at around midnight on 3 July 1969 and was discovered motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool at Cotchford Farm. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

The coroner’s report ruled his death as a drowning, which was later clarified as “death by misadventure”, and noted that Jones’ liver and heart were both enlarged by his previous drug and alcohol abuse.

There are other theories surrounding Jones’ death, with associates of The Rolling Stones claiming that Jones was murdered.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was born 27 November 1942, and would go on to become one of the most influential guitarists in history. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described Hendrix as “the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music”.

Hendrix’s girlfriend Monika Dennemann found him breathing but unconscious and unresponsive in her apartment in London.

She called for an ambulance and paramedics transported the musician to St Mary Abbot’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on 18 September 1970.

The post-mortem examination declared that Hendrix choked on his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates, a drug that acts as a central nervous system depressant.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin was born on 19 January 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas. She rose to fame as a singer after her appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

On October 4 1970, her producer Paul Rothchild was concerned for Joplin when she failed to show up for a recording session. She was found by John Cooke, one of her close friends, and two other friends at her hotel room, dead on the floor beside her bed.

The autopsy of the singer determined that the cause of death was a heroin overdose, which had possibly been compounded by alcohol.

Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison was born on 8 December 1943, and would go on to become the lead vocalist of rock band, The Doors.

He was reportedly found by Pamela Courson in Paris in the bathtub of the apartment he was staying in.

The singer died on 3 July, 1971 - two years to the day after the death of Rolling Stones guitarist, Brian Jones.

The cause of death was listed as heart failure, however, no autopsy was performed as it wasn’t required by French law.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was born on 20 February 1967 and is best known as the frontman and primary songwriter of rock band, Nirvana.

He was found dead at his home in Seattle, Washington, and it was determined that he had died on April 5 1994, three days before he was found.

His death was officially ruled as a suicide - the Seattle Police Department incident report states that he was “found with a shotgun across his body, had a visible head wound and there was a suicide note discovered nearby”.

However, the death of Cobain has been the subject of much public discussion, with many theorising that he was murdered.

Jade Goody

Jade Goody was an English television personality. She was born on 5 June 1981, and found fame after her appearance on the Channel 4 reality TV show Big Brother in 2002.

In 2008 Goody appeared on the Indian version of Big Brother, called Bigg Boss, but had to leave the show early and return to the UK as she learned she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer.

On September 1, 2008, it was reported that her cancer was “advanced and life threatening”.

In 2009, it was confirmed by her publicist, Max Clifford, that the cancer had spread to Goodby’s liver, bowel and groin. On 22 March 2009, Goody passed away in her sleep.

Sahara Davenport

Sahara Davenport is the stage name of American drag queen Antoine Ashley, who appeared on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Davenport was born on 17 December, and joined the cast of Drag Race in 2010. The drag queen passed away on 1 October 2012 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore due to heart failure.

The first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, a spin-off of the main show that sees contestants return, aired following Davenport’s death was dedicated to the drag queen.

Anton Yelchin

Anton Yelchin was born on 11 March 1989 in Leningrad, Russia, to figure skater parents.

He was an Russian-American actor, best known for his role as Pavel Chekon in the rebooted Star Trek film franchise - Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and posthumously in Star Trek Beyond (2016).

On June 18 2016, after he failed to arrive at rehearsals, Yelchin was found by his friends pinned between his Jeep and a brick pillar mailbox outside his house in Studio City, California.

The vehicle had rolled back down his driveway, which was on a steep incline, and had trapped the actor. He was pronounced dead at the scene on 19 June 2016.

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office identified the cause of death as “blunt traumatic asphyxia”.

Kim Jong-hyun

Kim Jong-hyun, also known as Jonghyun, was born on 8 April 1990 and was a South Korean singer-songwriter and the main vocalist of K-pop group Shinee for nine years.

In December 2017, Jonghyun rented a flat in the Gangnam District in southeastern Seoul for two days. On 18 December, Jonghyun’s older sister, Kim So-dam, made a call to emergency services reporting that she thought her brother was going to commit suicide.

He was found unconscious by police and rescue workers and was taken to Konkuk University Hospital in a state of cardiac arrest. After receiving emergency CPR treatment, he was pronounced dead at the hospital, on 18 December 2017.

At the request of Jonghyun’s family, a post-mortem was not carried out and his death was declared as a possible suicide.