Archive for the ‘Psychedelic Rock’ Category

April is an unusual time of year: the bitterness of winter is finally over, spring is (supposedly) here,  and summer is just around the corner. It’s a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, looking on the bright side. Except every April 5th, there’s a  heaviness that sets in which began in 1994: when Kurt Cobain died.

Now, if you grew up in the 90s, you know who Cobsin is whether you listened to his music or not: the lead singer of  Nirvana. A band that penned “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” personified grunge and became poster boys for angst-filled anti-everything Gen-Xers. Behind the scenes, Cobain suffered from depression, was big on heroin, and uncomfortable being in the spotlight. Nirvana released three albums over a four-year period and sold over 15 million copies. On April 5th 1994, Cobain was found dead: he committed suicide by shotgun, though conspiracy theorists remain convinced it wasn’t an accident. He was 27.

Musician Brian Jones not only formed The Rolling Stones, he also named them and contributed as a songwriter. He primarily played harmonica, keyboard and guitar, but brought several instruments to the band’s sound, including the sitar. He’s performed with Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles and while with the Rolling Stones, appeared on ten studio albums, selling over 8 million copies. Due to a chronic drug habit, Jones was asked to leave the band and shortly after, on July 3rd, 1969, he died by drowning in his pool. He was 27.

Jimi Hendrix is widely responsible for making the electric guitar a star with his immeasurable creativity, putting psychedelic rock, funk and blues together, and mainstreaming the use of feedback, distortion and amplifiers. He headlined Woodstock in 1969, released three records and sold over 7 million copies. He was a known drug user, mostly marijuana and LSD. Though the events surrounding Hendrix’s death on September 18, 1970 remain controversial and unclear, it appears he died due to asphyxiation on his own vomit as a result of mixing alcohol and drugs. He was 27.

Janis Joplin was a pioneer in blues/country/folk/psychedelic rock. She was known as “The Queen of Rock ‘n Roll,” and has influenced musicians like Florence Welch and Stevie Nicks. She headlined Woodstock in 1969, put out two albums as a solo artist selling more than 5 million copies; she also released two albums while lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, which sold over 3 million copies. Joplin died on October 4th, 1970 – 16 days after Hendrix – of a heroin overdose, allegedly accidental. She was 27.

Jim Morrison was lead singer and songwriter for The Doors, a 60s psychedelic/blues rock band, the definition of classic rock. He was also a poet, influenced the likes of Scott Weiland and Iggy Pop and the leather pants he often wore apparently gave them their rock star association. He was dark and mysterious and well known for his on-stage personality: charismatic, sexy and full of antics. The Doors released six albums over four years and sold well over 6 million copies. Morrison died on July 3rd 1971 in Paris, supposedly of a heroin overdose. Because there were no signs of foul play, no official autopsy was performed, as was French law at the time. He was 27.

Amy Winehouse was the perfect blend of R&B, soul, blues and jazz while bringing her own rawness to the table. She was definitely not the “cookie-cutter” type, she was unconventional yet still set the mainstream on fire – she was just that talented. She released two albums over three years, selling over a whopping 20 million copies. In 2006 she won five Grammy Awards, the first British female artist to do so, paving the way for Adele and so many others. She had a long history of drug abuse, alcoholism, violence and mental health issues including manic depression. Winehouse died July 3rd, 2011 from alcohol poisoning. She was 27.

The 27 Club refers to a group of famous musicians who died at 27 years old, and these were just a few. All members had major impacts on the music industry: they were pioneers who opened our ears to something new, icons, phenomenal musicians and full of promise, who died in the prime of their careers. But they were also suffering: with drugs, alcohol, their mental health. Which makes you wonder whether this contributed to their innovativeness and genius? Did they need that outside assistance to pull out their musical creativity? On the other hand, was 27 years all they could give of their music? Would they have had anything left to offer had they lived any longer? The 27 Club is an exclusive one where nobody wants to be a member. However becoming a member also means you’ve impacted the music industry in ways most never will. Catch 22?

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