Brian Jones. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse. All extremely talented musicians. All of whom died at the height of their creative and popular careers. All at 27 years old.
The “curse” of 27, or “The 27 Club,” is a legitimate thing, with its own Wikipedia page and even a book. Rumor has it that after Kurt Cobain’s death, his mother told The Daily World, “Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club.” In 2008, three years before her death, Amy Winehouse expressed fear that she would someday befall this same fate; her personal assistant told one website, “She reckoned she would join the 27 Club of rock stars who died at that age. She told me, ‘I have a feeling I’m gonna die young’.”
Today I turn 27. I am not worried about joining that 27 Club, as I’m a) not a famous musician, b) not a substance abuser, and c) not at all reckless, or even much of an everyday risk-taker. But I do wonder if there is something about the reality of being 27 that contributes to the phenomenon. Is it a doomed age?
I didn’t dread this birthday, but for the first time I think I would rather have stayed 26 if given the choice. I really liked 26. It was my best year yet; I experienced a lot of new things, I ran a half marathon, and I went to Disney World. I grew more as a person than I think have in any single year in my life; I feel like I have settled in to who I am, and who I am going to be. At 26 I was solidly mid-20s, established at work but still able to have fun and claim youth. 27 seems to carry with it an assumption of maturity and seriousness that I just don’t feel ready to accept.
But then I realized, 27 can be anything I want it to be! For every famous musician who has died at 27, there are thousands who have not! Just because a few factors converge and look like maybe they should mean one thing, doesn’t mean they have to. That’s why we live life. I can blaze my own 27 path.