The 27 Club
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” These Neil Young lyrics were found in a death letter written by Kurt Cobain on April 8th 1994 when he was found dead. Like many greats before him (Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison), Cobain passed at the ripe age of 27, making him a member of The 27 Club- a group that has been strangely coveted, skyrocketed popularity and surrounded by conspiracy. In fact, the concept has caused many to question whether there is a “group” (illuminati, Jay-Z, both?) responsible for the early deaths, possibly doing it to create even more, long-lasting fame for the artist. For example, would Nirvana still be so popular if the young Kurt hadn’t committed suicide? Members of the group are far reaching- Amy Whinehouse, Brian Jones etc. Though the list is long, this blog post will uncover just a few of these conspiracies and their nature.
Most know the controversy surrounding the death of Cobain, which affected thousands of people worldwide. The judicially accepted story is that Kurt Cobain committed suicide in his home, leaving a note to his imaginary friend Boddah that details his reasoning for killing himself and his love for his wife Courtney Love and their daughter Frances.
While I really don’t wish to make claims one way or the other here, the most widely expressed conspiracy here of course is that Courtney Love killed Cobain. It’s easy to imagine when looking at their troubled relationship, her public image and the ongoing feud between Dave Grohl (member of Nirvana, best friend of Kurt and Foo Fighters front man) and Love. This conspiracy is perpetuated most highly by Tom Grant, a private investigator of the death and of Cobain’s disappearance after rehab. By examining the suicide note and having handwriting experts do the same, he claims that the last four lines were forged. The rest he believes, were about Cobain’s claims to leave Love. Other handwriting experts have disagreed (http://kurtcobainssuicidenote.com/kurt_cobains_death_theories.html)
Only recently, a new letter has been released that was found in Cobain’s wallet upon his death. It says “less nice” (I’ll leave it at that, you can look it up yourself) things about Love than the death note. While this has sent fans reeling again, Love has taken responsibility for writing the note and for the meantime that seems about right.
Although he was on the music scene for just a little over two years, Hendrix left a legacy. It’s no surprise then, that with his open drug use he died so young and his death became a huge mystery among fans- despite the official story. Hendrix, it was reported, was sick for a few days before his death and the official record is that he choked on his own vomit while using barbiturates. The conspiracies have ranged a broad spectrum however. Perhaps, like many conspiracies, these were born out of the need to create a more formidable and important death in order to cope.
Unlike the other members of the 27 Club, Joplin’s death is fairly undisputed- a heroin overdose whereby she fell to the floor and hit her head on the table. What is interesting to note however, is that the man who sold Joplin her final dose was highly involved with Morrison’s girlfriend, Pamela Courson who has been blamed for his death by several conspiracy theories (http://rockandrollmyths.wordpress.com/chapter-2-conspiracy-theories/the-27-club/). Still, dying at the young age makes her part of the larger conspiracy and her talent will always live on.
Morrison’s death is one of the most highly disputed and recently controversial of the lot. Although the official report of his death declares that he died alone in his apartment bathtub, much to the contrary has been dug up. First, because French law does not require autopsy if there is no proof of foul play, Morrison’s death is shrouded in mystery. However, one of the investigators claims that Morrison’s girlfriend had provided several different versions of his death including one in which she had killed him. Additionally, in recent years the case of Morrison’s death has been reopened under investigation because a witness has come forward claiming he saw Morrison dead in a club bathroom stall earlier on the night of his death where a doctor was brought in and the body was taken to the apartment- making the whole thing seem framed (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-466947/The-shocking-truth-pal-Jim-Morrison-REALLY-died.html). We may never know, but it definitely adds to the validity of the 27 Club.
I guess we’ll never know. Maybe that’s what’s so tantalizing about conspiracy…