Rock Stars Aren't More Likely To Drop Dead At 27


If you’re a 27-year-old musician, feel free to continue indulging in the risky behaviors you love so much because scientists have found the year isn’t much more dangerous than any other in the life of a young celebrity. Shockingly, there isn’t some magical curse placed on the head of anyone who’s risen to fame by stepping in front of a microphone.

The facts on the “Forever 27 Club” seem hard to deny. That’s the age that many stars have passed away, including Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, and a bunch of musicians you’ve probably never heard of. As Charles R. Cross, author of biographies on Hendrix and Cobain, once wrote, “The number of musicians who passed away at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard … Though humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27.” Though, it turns out that that six famous rock stars dying at the same age during a 50 year period isn’at actually all that remarkable when you look at the facts.

Recently researchers fromt he Queensland University of Technology in Australia took a look at musicians deaths between 1956 and 2007, and concluded that there wasn’t anything particularly dangerous about turning 27. After analyzing statistics on 1,046 musicians who had number one hits in the U.K. (which actually excluded Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison), the researchers found that only 7% had died during that period. There were quite a few deaths between 20 and 40, but researchers determined the rockers weren’t more likely to die young due to some evil sorcery. It seems the spike in early deaths can be attributed to a strange condition called “doing a fuckton of drugs.”

The “27 Club” myth exists due to the human brain’s tendency to look for patterns and ignore things that don’t fit. Saying 27 has significance is like arguing that Aaliyah, Buddy Holly, and George Harrison all died before the average non-famous person because they had double letters in their names. (Whoa, spooky!)

Really? The Claim: For Famous Musicians, 27 Is A Dangerous Age [NYT]
27 Club [Wikipedia]
20 Notable People Who Died At 27 [Listverse]
Rock Star Deaths: Is The 27 Club For Real? [Time]

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