The tragic death of singer Amy Winehouse follows a peculiar pattern of premature demises by wildly talented, but troubled pop and rock stars.
While no cause for her death has been established yet by London coroners, it’s a good bet that her long-term severe drug and alcohol addictions played the key role.
And, when I heard that she was only 27, something shook in me.
That is the exact age that at least five other rock superstars died: Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and the incomparable Jimi Hendrix.
In fact, four of the aforementioned singers all perished within two years of each other:
Hendrix died on September 18, 1970 in his London flat, allegedly due to a drug overdose, although rumors have run wild for decades that Jimi was actually murdered.
In the prior year, Brian Jones, one of the founders of the Rolling Stones super-group, was found dead in the bottom of his swimming pool outside his house in the south of England. His death was initially declared a suicide, but years later it was revealed that he was murdered by a handyman who worked in his pool.
Like Winehouse, Jones’ severe addictions to drugs and alcohol left him impaired and unable to function in the band he helped form.
Janis Joplin, the gravelly-voiced blues singer from Texas, died the month after Hendrix did, in Los Angeles. Her death was attributed to a heroin overdose.
Jim Morrison, the handsome lead singer of the U.S. group The Doors died in the summer of 1971, allegedly from a drug overdose in his Paris apartment. But the true cause of his death has also been widely questioned.
Of more recent vintage, Kurt Cobain of grunge group Nirvana was found dead in his Seattle area home in April 1994. He, too, was 27.
Some have claimed that Cobain was the last “true” rock and roll star.
Perhaps it’s all a coincidence that these stars all died at 27.
Then again, perhaps that is the age at which the body simply cannot tolerate any more severe self-abuse.
Another perhaps less-renowned rock star who died at the fateful age of 27 was Pete Ham, the leader and principal songwriter of British pop band Badfinger.
Discovered and promoted by The Beatles’ Apple Records label, Badfinger enjoyed some huge hits in the late 1960s/early 1970s, including the classic songs “Come and get it” (penned by Paul McCartney) and “Day after day.”
Badfinger’s peak might have been appearing in George Harrison’s ‘Concert for Bangladesh’ in 1971.
However, by the middle of the 1970s, Badfinger was beset by internal squabbles, mismanagement and financial woes. Ham hung himself in the garage of his London home.
As a bizarre addendum to Ham’s death, the blood-alcohol content in his body was reportedly measured at 0.27 percent.