Wednesday, April 26, 2006

27—The Unluckiest Number in Rock ’n’ Roll

Born on December 8, the day that would become better known as the anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, Jim Morrison, founder of the Doors, died at age 27—as did Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain.


Though Cheiro said that 27 is “a fortunate number” promising “reward…authority, power, and command,” it appears to be an especially unlucky number for rock stars—and not just because Mark Chapman wanted to write Chapter 27, the missing chapter of The Catcher in the Rye, in John Lennon’s blood. It’s as if 27, the triple 9, formed a numerological Bermuda Triangle that has swallowed at least five great musicians.

Here are the birth and death days of rock stars whose lives ended at age 27:

Brian Jones, founding member of the Rolling Stones
Born: February 28, 1942, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Died: July 2, 1969, Hartfield, Sussex, England
Cause of Death: Found dead in his swimming pool. “Death by misadventure,” the coroner’s report said.
Age: 27

Jimi Hendrix
Born: November 27, 1942, Seattle, Washington
Died: September 18, 1970, London, England
Cause of Death: Apparently drowned in his own vomit after drinking wine and taking 9 sleeping pills.
Age: 27

Janis Joplin
Born: January 19, 1943, Port Arthur, Texas
Died: October 4, 1970, Hollywood, California
Cause of Death: Overdose of heroin and alcohol.
Age: 27

Jim Morrison, founder of The Doors
Born: December 8, 1943, Melbourne, Florida
Died: July 3, 1971, Paris, France
Cause of Death: Heart failure, according to the official report.
Age 27

Kurt Cobain, founder of Nirvana
Born: February 20, 1967, Aberdeen, Washington
Died: April 5, 1994, Lake Washington, Washington
Cause of Death: Self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head, according to Seattle police.
Age: 27

If I’m leaving anybody out, please let me know.

(Thank you Trickyhappyelf on IMDB.)


Though a number of people have asked me to post more often (and I appreciate the encouragement), I still intend to limit what I say here to my thoughts on Chapter 27, the movie, and its connection to “Chapter 27” in my John Lennon biography, Nowhere Man, which is the inspiration for the movie’s title. In other words, I see this blog as a database, not a place to post my daily stream of consciousness. (If I feel like doing that, I’ll start another blog.)

In my first entry, “The Roots of Chapter 27,” I said that I’d post when I had time to write. That appears to be happening every 3 to 4 weeks, though I always respond as soon as possible to e-mail and to people who post comments. (Please do check out the ongoing and often provocative dialogues in the “Comments” sections of various postings, especially “Astute Readers.”)

In the spirit of this blog, I will try to post new material around the 9th, 18th, or 27th of each month. But I also want to let everybody know that I’m into keeping this blog for the long haul, and I will continue posting at least until the release of Chapter 27 in 2007.


Moose said...

Hey Robert I love the Beatles. I also have one of the biggest Beatles blog out there. There are many questions from Beatles fan regarding Chapter 27 and your book. Many Beatles fans are hurt by this movie because Mark David Chapman wanted to receive fame for killing Lennon. By this movie we are giving Chapman what he desires. Are you a major Lennon fan because Lennon fans are disgusted by a movie about Chapman? If you have any statement about your position on this I will post it on my website.

Robert Rosen said...

Hi Moose,
Thank you for your note. I’m glad to hear that many Beatles fans have questions about “Chapter 27” and “Nowhere Man,” my John Lennon bio. Please send me the questions and I’ll answer them as best I can.

If I understand your first question correctly, you’re asking me if I’m a Lennon fan and if so, am I disgusted by “Chapter 27.” Your implication seems to be that all Lennon fans are, or should be, disgusted by the film.

Yes, I’m a Lennon fan, and I have been since 1964 when I saw them on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” then ran out to buy “Meet the Beatles.” If I were not a Lennon fan, I don’t think I could have written “Nowhere Man.”

As for “Chapter 27,” how can I have an opinion about a film that doesn’t yet exist? I have no idea what it’s going to be, and I’m keeping an open mind until I see it. As I’ve said here before, I hope it’s a great movie that brings us to a deeper understanding of Chapman’s insanity, and what caused it. That would be a good thing, a rare step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

You forgot Robert Johnson and Pete Ham (of Apple recording artists Badfinger). "Weird Al" Yankovic also has a mammoth number of occurances of 27 in his life and music. (Including his portrayal of Lennon in a Magical Mystery Tour parody...Lennon was 27 when MMT was filmed.) Read all about it at

Robert Rosen said...

Just noticed your comment this morning. Not sure how long ago you posted this. In any case, thanks for pointing it out. Since I posted the original article, I've also learned that Ronald McKernan, aka "Pigpen," a founding member of the Grateful Dead, died at 27.

Kris said...

A couple of my friends were sitting around talking about this lucky number 27 and decided to extend the invitation to other gendres of music and came up with some more unfortunate souls. The lead singer of Sublime commited suicide at 27, and Aliya the r&b songstress died in a plane crash at 27. Now some debate that they were not great musicians........but still 27 was thier fate.

alcoatari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Kramasz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Justin Kramasz said...

This wont make sense or matter to most of you, but it is case in point. My older brother, Jason Kramasz picked up a guitar at age 12. As his younger brother, I was always in awe of his prowess and as we grew, so did his talent. Jason was one of the most insightful guitar players I have ever met. He could learn a song just from hearing it. And, when teaching me, he could break down a hard lick and make it easy. I maintain to this day that Jason was the best guitarist Ive ever had the pleasure of knowing.

On March 23 2007, my older brother committed suicide. He was born on February 18, 1980.

You do the math.

Justin Kramasz said...

feel free to delete the first comment...

Robert Rosen said...

That’s very sad. I’m sorry to hear it. Thank you for posting.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that Robert Johnson also died at the age of 27.

Robert Rosen said...

Yes, I know, another poster mentioned Robert Johnson (see above). But Johnson was a blues musician, and the title of this posting is “The Unluckiest Number in Rock ’n’ Roll.”

The most comprehensive list I’ve seen of rock musicians who’ve died prematurely is a “Christian” website located at:

They catalogue the deaths of 321 musicians, breaking it down by name, date, band, and cause of death, in a manner that’s genuinely chilling.

Anonymous said...

Um...makes me nervous to have run across this blog about the number my birthday is August 27th: hope that doesn't mean I was born to be unlucky.

Stevie Ray Vaughn died on August 27th...

Robert Rosen said...

Don't sweat it, Anonymous. I was born July 27, I'm still very much alive, and I'm a hell of a lot older than 27.

Josh Hunter said...

This is an excellent string happening here - Please add us to your list - Our forthcoming book, Summer of '08 will be based on the historical legacy of musicians who passed at this incredible age

The 27s :

Thanks for letting us post,

Us @ The 27s

Ron said...

Hello,de dutch rock"nroll artist Herman Brood died at the age of 54,wich is 2x 27.
Greetings from The Netherlands

Anonymous said...

I realize that this is about the unluckiest number in rock 'n' roll but you should almost have to include Robert Johnson. In my opinion, blues was the foundation for rock. Elvis, who is considered "the king of rock", was heavily influenced by blues. No blues, no rock. And the "legend" of Robert Johnson is very interesting, so I personally think you should include it with the other rock greats on your page. I really enjoyed reading it. I am a huge Morrison and Cobain fan and I have been into this "curse" since I was little. Music is my life and I love superstitions as well, and to be able to tie the two together is mind blowing. Thank you for having this page! And to the people who believe that you are glorifying M. D. Chapman for killing Lennon, that is absurd! Does that mean that every book or movie out there about any legend's death is actually a slap in the face to those who read or view it?'s history and without publications of that matter how will younger generations ever learn about these tragedies? I'm only 24 and thank God for the countless numbers of books I've read about my favorite musicians(who are all almost a victim of this curse in one way or another). Right on to you and keep up the good work!

Robert Rosen said...

Dear Brittany,
Thank you very much for your thoughtful posting. If you read the other comments, then you see that you’re not the first person to say that I should have included Robert Johnson on my list. If I were writing the piece today, rather than three years ago, I probably would have included him—along with Ron McKernan (Pigpen) from the Grateful Dead, Pete Ham from Badfinger, and one other person, though I’m not sure who, to make it an “even” 9. (There are plenty more to choose from.) But my work on this blog is done—except for responding to comments (like yours) and answering e-mail. I see the blog as a time capsule of what I was thinking between 2006 and 2008. And despite all the numerology research I did for “Nowhere Man,” I was unaware of “The 27 Club” until I wrote “The Unluckiest Number in Rock ’n’ Roll.” If I’d known about it earlier, I would have mentioned it in “Nowhere Man,” which I hope is among the countless books you’ve read about your favorite musicians. Good luck with your music and feel free to write anytime.

bathmate said...

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amanda said...

And now Amy Winehouse

Tallula said...

Amy Winehouse :(

Robert Rosen said...

There has certainly been a lot of action on this site today, July 23, 2011. Will update post when more info on Winehouse becomes available. Very sad. I'm sure the conspiracy theorists are already at work.

Sarah MacManus said...

And Richey James Edwards - disappeared when he was 27 and presumed dead by suicide.