The concept of The 27 Club has been around at least since the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994, but it was nothing more than a bumper-sticker thought. “Huh, isn’t it weird that Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain all died at the age of 27?”
When we set out to research The 27s—The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll in the mid aughts you could hardly find information about the so-called 27 Club online. Sifting through stacks of old magazines, rock biographies, official death records, and seeking out old lovers and band mates, we were able to create a complete account of their stories, and with it, an understanding of what The 27s really meant. Josh and Eric self-published the book in 2008 and Random House made it internationally available in bookstores on the 15th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death in April 2009. NPR’s All Things Considered interviewed Eric, and our media coverage ranged from Australia’s ABC to Vermont Public Radio.
We mentioned Amy Winehouse in the book and she was still alive when we compared her to Janis Joplin. Both were amazingly talented and successful musicians who shared many other traits. But when Amy Winehouse died at age 27 in July 2011, we were caught by surprise. Not only by her death, but how leading media outlets across the globe chose to report on the story. The angle was that she had “joined the 27 Club.” We were headed out the door to go surfing when CNN and Al Jazeera called us for on-camera comments about the breaking story. And just like that, The 27s—rock’s greatest story—went viral.