There is a club. One that is only joined in death, and its only requirement is fame by the age of 27.
Once the age of 27 is reached, a strange and baffling series of events tend to unfold around the 27 year old, which if that person is a musician, has an unfortunately chilling possibility to become one of its members.
This is the phenomenon of what has become known as the 27 club. It is not truly known if its members join the club knowingly or accidentally, whichever way they arrive there, their destination is always final.
Its members include everyone from Jim Morrison of “The Doors”, all the way to Amy Winehouse to over 50 more as of the time of writing this article.
While the list of the individuals in the club tend to have comprehensively different backgrounds, the vast majority of them shared one common trait, that they were mostly musicians.
However, I would be remised to not mention that as human beings, we all look for patterns even where there is none. It is why we tend to see faces in the most mundane of things, from grilled cheese sandwiches to rocks on Mars.
Keeping that in mind, I decided to write the following article using statistical information as much as I can, hopefully without diluting my overall message. The numbers are a sort of tool to keep us grounded on the reality of things and not let us get too carried away in the attraction of where the rabbit holes lead. I certainly hope not to take any mystery away from this, but rather I hope you’ll agree, that truth sometimes, tends to be stranger than the strangest fiction.
I will be breaking this article into 3 parts for its 3 illogical occurrences. Part one (1) will be regarding the narrative’s implausibility of those whose fate ended in a car collision. Part two (2) is about the rampant drug abuse which eventually led to drug overdose. Part three (3) will be regarding the, albeit slightly more, improbable deaths not involving the first two.
Of the 50 or so members we believe now to be part of the 27 club, at least 7 of those were involved in a fatal car accident for which their death is owed to. Car accidents are, and will most likely remain, a fairly high contender in the cause of death to human beings, but the accidents in which the following occurs leaves enough of a hole for many to question the very nature of the club.
Firstly, let us go to the data.
For this we will inquire with “Insurance Institute for Highway Safety” or IIHS for short. In the year 2013 (its most recently and accurately compiled data, which also follows an average for the last 50 years) there were a total of 32,719 fatal car crashes in the US alone. From that number, we separate the car crashes into 2 distinct groups, one which collided with other cars (multiple car crashes) and those that collided with everything else from walls, poles, ditches, or even flips (single car crashes).
Analyzing that information, we can safely assume that the odds in any vehicle fatality are about 3 to 4 that it will be a single car crash. Meaning that if one were to die in a car crash in America, the odds of it being a single car crash (crash into a pole, wall, etc) are about 75% more likely to happen than a multiple car crash (colliding with another car).
Here is where the mystery begins to show its warped form.
If the odds for dying in a single car crash are so drastically high, common sense would provide that of those in the 27, the majority, or at least about half, which died in a car fatality would show similar results but to a far lesser degree (celebrities tend to die for much the same reasons as the average American, I’ll go into detail about that on part 3).
However, the truth is that of all those in the 27 that perished in a car crash, were all (with the exception of one) part of the multiple car crash category. Part of the 25%.
Even stranger is that of those, all persons collided with (again with the exception of one), were never found. Damages to indicate foul play were also evident in every collision, indicating the possibility of someone running them off the road or intentionally colliding. As to the only one which wasn’t involved in a multiple car collision, that was Denned Dale Boon of the rock band Minutemen. Witnesses on the scene mention a white sedan running his van off the road and into a pole where he died on scene. The suspect was never found.
Regardless of the facts that come out today or in the future, drug overdosing has been the main culprit for most of the 27 club.
While certainly not claiming as much as half, as some believe, but closer to about a quarter of the deaths, it is a far less controversial means of death.
However there is one factor to consider before continuing on. Of at least half of those in the 27 whose death can be contributed to drug overdose, there is reason to suspect that they may not have actually died due to drugs. When looking through some of the documents recording the reasons of death for many, the medical examiner simply provided an educated guess based on environment, history, and circumstances due to a lack of evidence otherwise.
As it turned out between those that probably died due to drugs, a very common theme throughout most of them was a tendency to self-medicate. Many of those that overdosed were recorded to have had certain psychological issues, perpetuated and made worse by early onset drug use.
Due to the nature of self-medication, detrimental failure nearly always followed, plummeting the user into deeper and deeper holes of despair. We now know many had disorders, that in turn led to heavier drug use until their demise was self-evident. But the white elephant of the question still remains regardless of those facts. Why 27?
Now the rest of the 27 that remain one would assume died under at least more natural causes. And this is the crux of the mystery behind the 27 club. The rest of the ones that remain died under circumstances far stranger than the two mentioned before.
Again, before we dive deeper into this mystery, we will again have to consult the numbers, if only to understand the true reality behind this strange occurrence.
According to a study conducted by Richard and Catherine Epstein from the Kinghorn Cancer Centre at Sydney’s Vincent’s Hospital, they found that the average age of death for someone in a celebrity status was around 77.2 years of age, meanwhile the average age of death to that of an average American was around 78.5 years. So while the rate at which celebrities die is higher, it turns out the way in which they die remains relatively the same.
To further expand, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the number one killer of most average Americans is heart disease at 611,105 deaths yearly, or about 23% of all those who die in general, taking the largest percentage.
Acknowledging as mentioned earlier, that celebrities are likely to die from similar causes to that of the average American, (except in suicide, for where the average American is around the 15th down the list for reasons of death, and for celebrities it’s at about 13th) and adjusting for a per capita rate, making the reality of the most likely reasons for death into a smaller paradigm like that of the 27 club, we should see a similar trend appear, but as the majority of deaths for those in the 27 club already proved (drug overdosage), the numbers are already skewed and a bigger question waiting to be asked.
Death by murder turns out to be the second most common avenue of death for those in the 27, while still remaining fairly rare to the average celebrity and typical American (somewhere around 17th and 18th down the list of common reasons for death), which cancels out any theory implicating that maybe it could be a celebrity status issue, it takes us further into a realm of different proportions.
Even more peculiar to these murders, is that there has never been a single implicated suspect except one. And even the one suspect was given a very controversial 5 years in prison for the killing of Freaky Tah, a time less than those given for most DUI suspect’s, add to that the fact that he was kept from making any public appearances.
As for the ones left in the club that didn’t die from any of the mentioned reasons, they fall into the topic of obscurity. Two were said to have jumped off a building. More said to have accidentally drowned in public, some even openly referred to as “mysterious circumstances”.
The 27 club is certainly a gate, in which once opened, leaves many, many unanswered questions in its wake. Only time will tell of its future members and to which camp they fall in. Until then, the club is unlikely to close, and even further unlikely to be solved.