July 28, 2021

Dazzling combustion, by Llàtzer Moix

One of the most familiar themes of the articles dedicated to rock is that of the disappearance of some of its stars at the age of 27. It is likely that the imminent 50th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death (it will be celebrated next Saturday) and the tenth anniversary – ten years now! – of the death of Amy Winehouse (on July 23) will lead to another avalanche of texts glossing those fleeting lives, fast burning. And, if not, here is my contribution.

Brian Jones, one of the founders of the Rolling Stones, drowned in his swimming pool after ingesting alcohol and drugs in 1969, at the age of 27. Jimi Hendrix drowned in his own vomit, after swallowing whiskey and barbiturates, in 1970, at the age of 27. Janis Joplin injected herself with heroin, fell, fell on the bedside table and was found dead the next morning, one day in 1970, at age 27. Jim Morrison died of a heroin overdose in 1971, at the age of 27 …

The music of the deceased from the club of 27 preserves all the life and intensity of the first day we hear it

The harvest of young rock corpses was memorable between 1969 and 1971. But the list is not limited to those years. Robert Johnson, king of the Mississippi Delta blues – whose songs Love in vain Y Stop breaking down the Stones sang by the way–, who got strychnine in his whiskey after fooling around with a club owner in 1938, at the age of 27. And, in recent times, this tragic border was joined by Kurt Cobain, also a heroin addict, who committed suicide in 1994, at the age of 27. Or Amy Winehouse, addicted to crack and alcohol, who also flagged her rejection of detoxification in the song I don’t want to go to rehab , and was even exhibited stealing drinks on all fours in Caribbean bars, until palmar in 2011, at the statutory 27 years. And, along with all of them, there were other stars of less brightness, deprived of a preferential seat in the club of 27, of which they are nevertheless full members, after exceeding like the most and giving it up soon.

The deceased gathered here were artists of great musical talent and influence, legendary voices, revolutionary instrumentalists, renovators of rock. They were also victims of addictions, loneliness, immense fatigue – of the world and of oneself – accumulated in careers as dazzling as they were outrageous, also of accidents and a certain curse, the main causes of these premature deaths. But perhaps not exempt from a certain logic: that of accelerated lives and rapid combustions, those that produce a lot of heat, a lot of light, a dazzling fire and, sometimes, end up in a sudden explosion, long before ordinary stocks.

Yes, the club de los 27 is a popular subject of rock art. But it is redeemed by its invitation to listen again to some exceptional authors, whose music, years after their goodbyes, retains today all the life and intensity of the first day we heard it.

Jim Morrison