No. That is just the mind trying to put order and sense to these things. Since Hunter Thompson committed suicide in 2005. Too many people felt it was a murder to cover up Hunter’s interest in the 9/11 attacks. They think he knew too much, and was too influential, to be allowed to tell his story.
While it was nothing to do with rock stars, or being 27, it speaks perfectly to the larger issue. By the time Hunter died, he hadn’t written a proper long form book for 25 years. His last long form work of fiction was 1980’s ‘The Curse of Lono’. Everything after that was collections of letters, short stories, and unpublished works. Just like a rock star who dies at 27 watches their catalog quadruple after their death.
By the time of Hunter’s passing, he was of virtually no influence to popular culture. He was more myth than person, which always bothered him. It was also 100% of his own creating, too. If you wanted to silence Hunter, you would do it in 1972, when he was eviscerating Richard Nixon, the most powerful man in the world, weekly in Rolling Stone magazine. Not a 65 year old drug addict sitting in his cabin in the woods who says out loud “I don’t trust GW Bush”. No one does. No one did, and no one ever will. Wait… how in the hell did Hunter not make the 27 club?
BUT… with all that said
The answer, of course, is much more complicated. There are some VERY shady deaths, and a few straight up murders. Robert Johnson was murdered. Poisoned by an angry and jealous husband. There is really no question about that.
But let’s look at some the ‘big three’. Supposedly, Jim Morrison drank himself to death in a Paris hotel room. It never sounded right. I knew it wasn’t the whole story. A few years ago, a story broke that on some dude’s dying bed, he said Jim did NOT die in that hotel room, in the bath. He died in the bathroom stall of his bar across the street. Makes sense, Jim was always there. Apparently, Jim took a speedball (shooting up a mix of cocaine and heroin) and it stopped his heart immediately. Not wanting to deal with the cops, or be famous for the being the shitter where Jim died, they dragged him across the street and dumped him in the hotel room before calling the cops. This makes sense, and I believe it. It also explains why there was no doctor present, no paramedics called (just a coroner) and there never was a death certificate. People thought all these administrative loose ends were proof Jim was still alive. No, they were just covering the real cause of death.
Now… speedball is a killer. That is what got River Phoenix, and John Belushi. The question to me is; did Jim mean to be taking a speedball? Apparently, it is quite common that victims of speedballs think they are only getting one or the other (coke, or heroin). We’ll never know.
Janis Joplin. We knew she was sad and lonely. Odds are, with modern technology, she would be treated for chronic and serious depression. That she drifts off in a happy place and wants to be numb… well that all makes sense. Except, Janis was not known to be a druggy. It wasn’t she was against drugs, it was that she was afraid of them and didn’t like them. In the great psychedelic heyday of the San Francisco hippy scene, her best friend was Pigpen from the Grateful Dead (who also died at 27), They spent all the time together because they were both terrified of acid, and both BIG fans of drink. Had Janis drank herself to death (like Pigpen) it would have been no surprise. Heroin, though? Weird. Out of character.
Janis update Dec 2016 – there is a terrific new doc about Janis called ‘Little Girl Blue‘… and they openly and often talk about Janis and heroin. Truly, this was news to me. However, they people they engaged were in her inner circle… so I trust them. Shows you what I know! I will always update this page as we learn new things. This is an evolution and a bit of ongoing freelance psychology.
Jimi Hendrix. Jimmy’s death is a lot like the Kennedy assassination. I don’t know what exactly happened, but I am about positive it is not what they are telling us. The story goes as such: Jimmy had just played Isle of Wight festival. He was super tired and broke and just exhausted on every level. He went to his girlfriends’ house in London, Monica Danneman (or was it Kathy Etchingham? He had too many gals to count)***. He takes a few of her sleeping pills, he just wants to sack out. Next morning, Monica wakes up, sees Jimmy is sleeping. Goes to run errands. Comes back and Jimmy appears dead, she call the medics****. Her story has changed a LOT over the years.
*** editors note to self – it was Danneman
**** a new inquest into Jimi’s death was recently launched in England (Aug 2002). We learn a couple things in this piece. When Danneman realized Jimi was dying/dead, she did NOT call an ambulance. She called her friends, and his friends. We lost at least an hour of possible live saving treatment had she called an ambulance straight off. This is a common occurrence, and it drives me nuts. When Heath Ledger was found barely alive, his masseuse called everyone she knew, and then everyone he knew. “What do I do?” Call a fucking ambulance, that is what you do. Note, Heath was 28, and not a rock star. However, I absolutely consider him part of the 27 club phenomenon.
She is was not a pleasant person, and was VERY possessive of Jimi. There are folks who believe she killed him with the whole ‘if I can’t have you, no one will’. Do I think this was possible? Yes, very possible. Everything I have seen from that chick (interviews, written accounts, second hand stories) tell me this gal is psycho stalker girl. Do I think that is what happened, though? No. I think it was probably a terrible accident. You have to think of that scene in the Sopranos, though, where Christopher dies. Tony doesn’t exactly kill him, but when the opportunity arises, he doesn’t exactly save him. That absolutely could have been something that happened.
Then, once again, a new development came up about a year or two ago. Jimi’s ex manager, Michael Jefferies, confided on his death bed that he killed Jimi. Like Col Tom Parker with Elvis, Jefferies was the psycho Svengali that controlled everything over Jimi. He was a horrible horrible person who ruined Jimi’s life. Even if he didn’t kill him, he killed him inadvertently by forcing him to stay on the road . Told Hendrix has deeply in debt and he had to work every single day playing to keep up the costs of Jimi’s passion ‘Electric Lady’ studios. Jefferies literally worked Jimi to death. Not to mention that he knowingly, and admittedly, once dosed Jimi with bad acid right before he went on stage. Jefferies is dead, now, and assuredly in hell. He’s a regular Allen Klein. Allen Klein doesn’t show up on this website for killing at artist yet… but I assure you he is involved somewhere. He’s the guy who broke up the Beatles and stole the Rolling Stone’s entire catalogue.
*** Update Dec 2016 – since then, stories have emerged that Jefferies confessed to actively killing Jimi that night in that apartment. Is he guilty? Well, just look at this face. As the supreme court of public opinion, I pronounce this guy super guilty. Just google the word ‘skeezy’ and this guy would come up.
Know that old coal miners diddy “load 16 tons, and whaddya get? Another day older and deeper in debt. St Peter don’t you call me, cause I can’t go… I owe my soul to the company store“. It is VERY pertinent. The trick was this, the miners money was paid directly to the store, since that was the only place they could spend money. Well, the stuff you needed was always conveniently just a bit more than what you had. Always. So, you can’t quit, or go somewhere else. You really owe your life to that county store man, who is kind enough to float you week to week, instead of sending you to debtors prison. What the workers never knew was that the mine owners and shop keepers were in careful cahoots to keep the miners in debt.
What did young Alex say in Clockwork Orange after beating all this droogies half to death. “give them enough that they appreciate you, but no so much that they no longer need you.” So, do I think Jefferies had a hand in it? I don’t know, and we’ll never really know. I wouldn’t put it past him, though. Not with that face.
Kurt is kind of the patron saint of the 27 club.
Kurt’s death has it all: drugs, suicide, murder, talent… it’s the whole package. I touch more upon this here, at the end. By the time he tragically died, he was off the radar of pop culture. There was only 1 album after Nevermind, and it isn’t great. In Utero is good, but not great. I can’t say Kurt is overrated, and I won’t. He reinvigorated rock and roll. We are all better for having him. If you look at his career as a body of work in the studio… there isn’t a high batting average. Bleach is dreck. My buddy Mikey had it, so I can tell you I was listening to Nirvana before it was cool to do so. That doesn’t make it good. I think what cemented Kurt’s legend is the Unplugged performance. It was there where we got to see he really was that talented, and brilliant, and fragile.
How about Kurt and Courtney conspiracies? I know the stories, I have read the documentaries. I believe Courtney had the motive, opportunity, etc etc. Yes, she is capable of doing something that horrible. Did she do it, though? Nah, probably not. If some new evidence came forward, though, and proved she did it… would anyone be that surprised? Btw, full disclosure – I am somewhat obsessed with Courtney Love. First thing, she is sometimes wicked hot. Second thing; she is crazy… and an asshole. If you want to know about my journalistic history with Court, and maybe see some boobies, too… click here. Link goes to my main music writing page. That page, like this one, and this one, is 100% me.
Also, Courtney is a great rock talent, and has done nothing worse than any rock star. Because she is female, though, she is never taken seriously. Listen to Celebrity Skin. It is a wicked great album… even if she didn’t exactly write
and all of it. Leave Courtney alone! Wait wait wait… how did she not 27? Man, their story is so Sid and Nancy it’s scary.
Brian Jones – this is my favorite tragic death. You have heard the name, he was in the Rolling Stones, but was bounced just as they were breaking. He was basically out in the late 60s. you know his music, though. He gave us Under my Thumb, Mother’s Little Helper, Ruby Tuesday, and Paint it Black. You want a great conspiracy? This is why I say it’s my favorite, because of this. His cause of death is listed as ‘death by misadventure’. In short, he was found upside down in his swimming pool. Awfully suspicious. Entire books have been written about it. Here is what we DO know for sure. He had a very serious drug problem. He had recently been fired by the Stones. Like everything else, we’ll never know what happened that night. I just love the sentence ‘death by misadventure’. Sounds like a Hunter Thompson-ism.
Then, we have to look at Keith Moon, drummer from the Who. Nuts. Mostly, in a beloved way, but nuts. When he played drums, he went SO spaz , they had to literally duct tap his headphones to his head. Listen, I don’t believe me either, so here is a picture. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
But… his death is what we are here to talk about. His death was so tragic, and yet so perfectly… Keith Moon. Only Keith could die this way, and it should be named after him. Keith had a BIG drinking problem. Think ‘John Bonham’ size drinking problem. He was sweet and funny and childlike and loved, until he got drunk. When that happened, everyone hid from him. The band would move to entirely different hotels and change their names… just so Keith wouldn’t show up at night and put a cherry bomb in their toilet.
They quickly realize he will drink himself to death. He has already accidentally driven over his chauffeur, and killed him. At a later date, he managed to drive a Rolls Royce into a pool. On purpose? Who knows? Who cares? So… they put him on meds designed to keep him off alcohol, Hemeverin.. He ODS on those.