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Amy Winehouse's Death Brings Back "27 Club" Talk

Updated on July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse

The 27 Club Has One Disturbing Thread

That Amy Winehouse is dead at the age of 27 is quite very sad but not altogether surprising.

The beehive coifed singer whose brief, influential career was frequently overshadowed by her problems related to alcohol and drug addiction, was found dead in her North London apartment on July 23. Her cause of death, as I write this, is pending the results of a post mortem.

Many in the media, in a rush to get news copy on the matter, made much to do about Ms. Winehouse joining a select group of musicians, all who passed away at the same age as if it were some sort of distinction. Some even have gone so far as to call the tragic fate “The 27 Club.” It was the topic of a book, The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock n Roll by Eric Segalstad.

To be fair, the list of musicians who passed away at the age of 27 is disturbingly extensive and it includes many lesser-known performers. Several were in accidents. Several were murdered. Some committed suicide. There is overwhelming evidence that drug and or alcohol addiction played a major role in the many of the performer’s respective deaths. Yet, that point seems to be frequently cast aside when discussion of this deadly, dubious distinction rears its gruesome head.

Consider some of the better known members of the group and their causes of death:

  • Brian Jones died on July 3, 1969, officially drowning in his own swimming pool, though his heart and liver were enlarged by alcohol and drug addiction.
  • Jimmy Hendrix died on September 18, 1970, choking to death on his own vomit from a mixture of alcohol and pills.
  • Janis Joplin died on October 4, 1970 from a “probable” heroin overdose.
  • Jim Morrison died on July 3, 1971. In Paris, France, where he was found dead, officials did not order an autopsy because there was no evidence of foul play. Years later, there were a number of accounts stating that heroin use played a role in Morrison’s death.
  • Curt Cobain died on April 5, 1994 from a self-inflicted shotgun blast. He struggled for years with mental illness and drug addiction.

As mentioned above, the cause of death for Amy Winehouse remains to be seen. Still, my take is that few people will be surprised and there will be further heartbreak when it is made official.

It is the media’s job to provide coverage of such unfortunate incidents like the death of a person at a rather young age. Still, I would rather they would not longer make light of the 27 Club. It opens the doors for many peripheral issues that are, for the most part, moot.

There is one point related to the 27 Club that should never be overlooked. It is this:

No matter how talented, resourceful and successful a person may be, when it comes to addiction, the drugs always win.

Once more, for effect, I’ll repeat it. The drugs always win.

My thoughts are with the family, friends and many fans of Amy Winehouse.

The Rehab Song

Amy Winehouse's Last Show


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      Another physican 6 years ago

      No one in their right mind would ever choose either Bipolar Disorder or Chemical Dependency. The research shows that it takes an average of 15 years to properly diagnose and adjust the medications for bipolar disorder just right to each ...person's body before sufferers can achieve any kind of consistency. It's usually diagnosed at age 25, so most people have already experienced a lot of suffering until they reach middle adulthood. This also explains why the several artists who were bipolar died at age 27 like Amy (Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, etc.) Artists lives esp are very chaotic, even for those who don't take drugs, and esp for those who went from "rags to riches" in a short time, like Amy, so I'm not surprised they didn't get the help they needed in time, like many people do. I took several neuropsychology courses at UC Irvine, where they specialize in this, and the brains of bipolars, those with chemical dependency, and even gay individuals are very different. I'm hoping that the experts continue to educate society so that we can all have more understanding and provide better support.

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      Doctor 6 years ago

      Like all the other 27 Club members, Amy, died of bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorder is so debilitating, it can lead to suicide (15%) or severe dysfunction. It's even more difficult with a combined chemical dependency diagnosis. Both are... physical illnesses stemming from the central nervous system which have little or no effective medical treatment. THEY ARE NOT CHOICES. They don't go away, even for those who manage to "behave themselves." The only way anyone can function with these illnesses is with a lot of support, good medication and therapy, and careful, consistent, and holistic (spiritual, emotional, physical, social) self-care. We all have our own crosses to bear. Yours might be different than Amy's, but you too have something to overcome. God help you do that. Ignorance, judgmentalism and hatred prevent healing. I believe Amy cried out to God in her suffering before she died and is in a better place. She is praying that we find better treatment of illnesses and each other.

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      Karen A. Harris 6 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

      What a tragedy. Such a beautiful and talented woman. My thoughts and prayers out to the family.