8 Celebrities Who Died At The Age Of 27

Photo by Ian Dickson / Rex Features

The amount of iconic celebrities who have died at 27 is haunting. So much so, there’s a “27 Club” that honors a group of musicians from the 1960s and 1970s who all succumbed to the long sleep before they clicked the personal clock to 28. Beyond those iconic names — which you’ll see in the list below — there are other examples of “Woah, that’s macabre…” tying so many celebrities deaths to the age of 27. Why 27? Without delving too deep below the surface, here are eight celebrities who died at the age of 27.

8. Jonathan Brandis

It came as a shock in 2003 when Jonathan Brandis, former child actor who continued to work into his 20s, attempted suicide by hanging, and eventually died of his injuries at the age or 27. Perhaps this is one example of having wealth before wisdom, and the lack of foresight that plagues people in their 20s. Considering his career as a whole, Brandis was in nothing more than a transitional period, going from boy to man. According to friends, he was drinking heavily during this time period, and was quite depressed about his career. He had even made mention that he might kill himself if things didn’t start looking up. On November 11, 2003, he was found by a friend, and police and paramedics were called to the scene. He was offered medical treatment for several hours, and pronounced dead on November 12 at 2:45 p.m.

(c)Universal TV/courtesy Everett Collection

7. Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman became the short-lived poster child for American sacrifice after his death in the war on terror in 2004 at the age of 27. Pat left a potential superstar career in the NFL, and turned down a multi-million dollar contract, then with his brother, Kevin — a MLB draftee — enlisted in military service eight months after the September 11 attacks. Pat achieved the rank of Specialist, and served with the Army Rangers in Afghanistan, serving several tours before his untimely death on April 22, 2004. When his death was first reported, it was a rallying cry for the war effort and what true patriots are willing to sacrifice. As the stories progressed, and the truth began to leak through several sources, it was revealed that Pat was killed by friendly fire. Controversy led to investigations that went on for several years.

(AP Photo/Photography Plus via Williamson Stealth Media Solutions, File)

6. Amy Winehouse

For fans of Amy Winehouse, she seemed to be a ticking time-bomb. It’s never a good thing when a drug addict and alcoholic achieves the pinnacle of their career success with a song about not wanting to go to rehab. At the age of 24, while running on full throttle and enjoying her success, Amy admitted that she feared the age of 27, because of the 27 Club, and being another member. The next three years served as a roller coaster ride of drugs, alcohol, legal problems, personal problems, man problems, the loss of her grandmother — one of the few accountability influences in her life — and eventually getting clean, before struggling with the bottle again. The week of her death was marked by typical Amy Winehouse behavior, and her bodyguard considered it of little concern. Eventually she drank to the point of poisoning her body, and died in her sleep.

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5. Jimi Hendrix

An early member of 27 Club, the legend and legacy of Jimi Hendrix has lived longer than the man did. Born in Seattle, Washington, and falling in love with the guitar at an early age, the instrument became his muse and best friend. Yes, it’s true, Jimi served a short stint as Army Airborne, and after he was discharged, began playing clubs throughout the south, and accompanied some of the biggest names in music. Jimi found his wild success after hopping the pond and creating The Experience. Jimi was known for having a huge heart, and being a loving man… except when he drank and did drugs. He was violent. Ultimately, the drink and drugs would be his undoing. After a night of socializing, Jimi shared a bottle of wine with his girlfriend, then took several sleeping pills. He aspirated his own vomit, and died of asphyxiation.


4. Janis Joplin

Sixteen days after the death of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin joined her friend in the 27 Club. Janis Joplin’s story is as fascinating as her voice. Growing up in a conservative household, she never took issue with her parents, family or Texas friends, but she did — according to her mother — require a lot of attention to feel happy. Her incomparable vocal talent led her to many opportunities in the music business, and like most during the 1960s, she turned to drugs and alcohol as a method of “feeling.” Janis was in the midst of recording an album when she passed. She failed to show up for a recording session, and Full Tilt Boogie’s road manager, John Cooke, went to her motel to check on her. He found her dead from an overdose of heroin. Similarly, several other individuals who used that drug dealer overdosed that week.

Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection

3. Jim Morrison

The circumstances surrounding Jim Morrison’s death are sketchy at best. The two things that are certain: he died at 27 in Paris, France. The official report listed his death as heart failure. Can any death report be more vague? Everyone ultimately dies of heart failure. The controversy surrounding the death of “The Lizard King” was made most interesting by his longtime partner, Pamela Courson, who was present when he died. According to the official report, she found Jim in the bathtub, deceased, but later, she revealed a feeling of responsibility for his death. According to Courson, Jim had mistaken some of her heroin stash for cocaine, and snorted it. Others have suggested that Pamela, also high, nodded off as Jim hemorrhaged to death.

(AP Photo/file)

2. Brian Jones

Brian Jones was the founder, and one-time leader of The Rolling Stones, but lost his influence to the songwriting team of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Brian was still key to the band’s early success. He was multi-instrumentalist who brought other sounds — harmonica, sitar — to the mix. Unfortunately, he also brought serious drug and alcohol problems into the mix, putting a strain on the Stones personal relations. In 1969, he was asked to leave the band, and less than a month later, he was found in the bottom of a swimming pool. Pulled from the water, his girlfriend always maintained he had a pulse, but died once medical professionals arrived to offer treatment. Postmortem, it was discovered that Brian’s vital organs had been ravaged by his drug and alcohol abuse. His cause of death was listed as “misadventure.”


1. Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994 came as a surprise to no one. The definitive grunge rocker was 27-years-old, and Cobain himself had joked about the club needing another member. His closest friends, bandmates and wife, Courtney Love, staged an intervention in the days leading to his death, and he agreed to seek treatment for drug abuse. Kurt bailed from the treatment facility on the night of March 31, 1994, hopping the fence, taking a cab to LAX and catching a flight to Seattle. On the flight he sat next to Guns N’ Roses bassist, Duff McKagan, who stated afterward that he knew something was very wrong with the scenario. Kurt holed up in his Seattle home, and was discovered dead from a gunshot wound on April 8, by a visiting electrician. His official date of death was listed as April 5, 1994.

Photo by Ian Dickson / Rex Features

James Sheldon