27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse

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9780306821684: 27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse

When singer Amy Winehouse was found dead at her London home in 2011, the press inducted her into what Kurt Cobain's mother named the 27 Club. Now he's gone and joined that stupid club,” she said in 1994, after being told that her son, the front man of Nirvana, had committed suicide. I told him not to .” Kurt's mom was referring to the extraordinary roll call of iconic stars who died at the same young age. The Big Six are Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison of the Doors, Kurt Cobain and, now, Amy Winehouse. All were talented. All were dissipated. All were 27.

Journalists write about the curse of the 27 Club” as if there is a supernatural reason for this series of deaths. Others invoke astrology, numerology, and conspiracy theories to explain what has become a modern mystery. In this haunting book, author Howard Sounes conducts the definitive forensic investigation into the lives and deaths of the six most iconic members of the Club, plus another forty-four music industry figures who died at 27, to discover what, apart from coincidence, this phenomenon signifies.

In a grimly fascinating journey through the dark side of the music business over six decades, Sounes uncovers a common story of excess, madness, and self-destruction. The fantasies, half-truths, and mythologies that have become associated with Jones, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain, and Winehouse are debunked. Instead a clear and compelling narrative emerges, one based on hard facts, that unites these lost souls in both life and death.

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About the Author:

Howard Sounes is known for writing detailed and revelatory biographies of a wide range of extraordinary personalities, including author Charles Bukowski (Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life) and musicians Bob Dylan (Down the Highway) and Paul McCartney (Fab). Each book is based on extensive original research. Sounes lives in London.

Review:

For anyone with an interest in the music scene, this has to be must' reading A fascinating book.” Bookviews blog, December 2013

Sounes does an admirable job of cutting through a lot of the drama without claiming to have definitive answers for some of the speculation 27 is thoroughly researched and features many new interviews with the principals who were in the inner circle of the six featured individuals.” My Big Honkin Blog, 11/24/13

[Sounes] makes a strong case that behind the coincidence is a common narrative' for all six of the most notable members of the club. All were as troubled as they were talented, supremely vulnerable to exploitation and addiction, too young to know how much time they should have had left.” Boston Globe, 12/15/13

Sounes succeeds by moving well beyond that coincidental data into a hard look at the darkly powerful effects of sudden fame on relatively young, and generally fragile artists ill-prepared to deal with such pressures.” Metroland, 12/12/13
By using the 27 phenomenon as its starting point, the book manages to create a study of fame, damaged people and the occasionally disastrous results when you mix the two. And, naturally, when you mix drugs into the bargain While this is not a biography, it serves as a more than adequate one for anyone wishing to learn about the real people behind the canonized music when it comes to the story of talent, fame, and excess and the volatile combination these things make for in an already wounded young life Howard Sounes has produced a gold record.” A The book brings readers up to date with new findings, rumors and conspiracy theories. It could also serve as a primer for young musicians of what not to do if they achieve massive success.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/1/13

Sounes's even-handed approach is that of a crime reporter searching for the truth and insight into what connected these individuals in life and in death It's a compelling read.” Curled Up with a Good Book, 11/26/13

Sounes furthers our understanding of what happened to these talented, young people A provocative and persuasive read that goes further than any other publication on this particular topic.” Sacramento Book Review, December 2013



Praise for 27
This fine study looks at the tragic history of the 27 Club . Much of the book's power lies in its refusal to pander to the romantic-melancholy notion of the tortured young artist who lives fast and dies young. Instead the squalor and chaos of their everyday existence is exposed in uncompromising detail . This book is not about more rock star mythologizing. It's about skewering the mystery of the 27-connection, by exposing its all-too-tragic reality.” Sunday Times (UK)
In a multi-stranded biography, Howard Sounes has set himself the task of finding a link between the lives and deaths of these six rock stars . Sounes's masterstroke is to unearth forensic levels of detail on his subjects . He has pulled off what could have been a tasteless project with sensitivity.” The Times (UK)
This book is the first time that these committee members, as it were, of the 27 Club have been buried together under the same cover a gruesomely enjoyable read.” The Spectator (UK)



[Sounes] is a tenacious researcher [He] painstakingly demolishes conspiracy theories and other forms of magical thinking.” The Observer (UK), 8/17/13
Sounes offers a stern corrective to the adage that it's better to burn out than to fade away. The author takes a refreshingly skeptical view of the belief that a conspiracy accounts for the deaths of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, dismissing urban legends and murder theories to reveal the similarities among them A compelling examination of the effects of sudden fame on mentally fragile artists.” Kirkus Reviews, 11/1/13
As much as one may have hoped, Sounes dissects the conspiracy theories and puts to bed the lunacy that surrounds these idols deaths. He also succeeds in producing a highly detailed, expertly researched book, with both personal family and close friend interviews, making it a tour de force private biography that belongs on both the shelves of bio fans and anyone that may have been touched by any of the included artists music.” Huffington Post UK, 10/13/13
Sounes delves into the lives of the Big Six' sewing the common threads they share in life and death.” USA Today, 11/13/13

BookNews.com, December 2013

Without falling into the trap of sentimentality, Sounes also looks at the aftermath of these tragic losses through new interviews with family, friends, and former bandmates [Sounes is] a good researcher Despite the morbid subject, this sharply written and insightful title should have a home in any public or music library, where it will likely yield high circ counts.” Library Journal, STARRED Review, 11/15/13

Sounes' clear-eyed view of his subjects' behavior is welcome in a rock biography It would be easy to sensationalize the adherence of performers in this book to the creed of sex and drugs and rock n' roll,' but Sounes takes an even-handed approach to their exploits.” Seattle Times (Soundposts music blog), 11/15/13

The first time you heard Light My Fire or Me & Bobby McGee, it was probably from a scratchy record and cheap speakers. 27 brings those memories back with a lot less static. This is, in fact, almost a read-in-one-sitting kind of book, so thoroughly fascinating is author Howard Sounes in his method of storytelling If you're a fan of classic rock or blues, or if you just want a good look at stardom gone wrong, 27 gets five stars.” The Bookworm Sez
While the book begins and ends with the story of Amy Winehouse to appeal to the younger demographic, older readers will also enjoy the depth of research and insights from the author's original interviews with friends and family of those profiled.”

Word Bookstores (Tumblr), 1/2/2014

[A] comprehensive (but not overwhelming) history of the members of The 27 Club. Sounes writes of their lives realistically, pointing out numerous similarities in their upbringings, relationships, and behaviors that link them in their tragically early deaths. Also, there's no glorifying of the rock star life or the ones who lived it, which makes this an especially intriguing study A great read for any music fan or curious mind.”

WomanAroundTown.com, 12/16/2013

While some have credited a supernatural reason for the performers' untimely demise, Sounes presents a clear-headed evaluation, and neither judges nor idolizes the lives and deaths of the performers about whom he has written.”

Houston Press Rocks Off blog, 1/7/14

Sounes completed an impressive list of original interviews for this book, which shed further light on area like Jim Morrison's last days in Paris, Cobain's fragile mental state, and Winehouse's seemingly insane drinking bouts.”

MediaMikes.com, 1/4/14

The strength of 27 lies in the way Sounes weaves in and out of the dark underbelly of the last fifty years of pop culture, maintaining the connective tissues through each individual star's unraveling and untimely exit This is a book that examines tragic lives, it's not selling conspiracies or cosmic hokum Sounes is a great tour guide because he's neither shocked, clutching his pearls at the collective behavior, nor is he excessively voyeuristic. He's thorough. But 27 never feels like an exploitative recounting of every awful drug-induced escapade like so many tabloid-ready exposes' do.” Biographile.com, 11/13/2013

If Howard Sounes' 27 covers a subject that might seem uncomfortable or even a bit morbid to some, the author can at least be forgiven for doing so in a mostly even-handed, and tasteful manner To his credit, Sounes treats his subjects with respect, mostly avoiding the more sensational and ghoulish stories that have already been done to death elsewhere An entertaining, breezy read and an often fascinating addition to the wealth of material already out there on these famous rock star deaths.” Blogcritics.org, 11/16/13
The 27 Club is the exclusive members-only society that music stars don't want to join. Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Brian Jones all died aged 27 and the biographer Howard Sounes uses this unhappy coincidence [to look] at the rock-star trajectory that brought them all to a premature end . Recommend[ed].” New Statesman (UK)
Sounes mixes biography with investigative journalism, social science, and rock history into a work that is as engrossing as it is depressing Though he doesn't pull any punches when it comes to sensitive information about his subjects, he does write with a care that is refreshing for a topic that could easily devolve into ambulance chasing. Sounes, a true crime writer, is especially incisive when it comes to dispatching conspiracy theories built around many of these deaths. He captures the sad truth behind a club for which a youthful death is the only entrée.” Publishers Weekly, 9/23/13
If you like reading about brilliant young people destroying themselves, this is your book Hard living started early will take its toll, and it's not a complete coincidence they all died when they did, but it's not a mystic number either, and Sounes disposes easily with the conspiracy theories that have collected around the dead stars.” The Age (Australia), 9/21/13
Plainly aimed at readers fascinated by specific pop-music artists whose careers burned both brightly and briefly Meaningful to people who celebrate, even idolize these performers.” InfoDad.com, 11/14/13

Does a superb job of showing the connective-ness between the unfortunate members of the infamous 27' club Sounes lays the facts out bare taking the superstition and mysteries out of this club. While also touching on the mysteries of a few of the twenty seven clubs deaths, the author keeps it logical and stays away from the excitable thoughts and conspiracies Sounes does a wonderful job at giving little known information about the artist and a very well rounded biography before flowing into another artist's story A well articulated map of how these artists are connected, and stars are crossed.” Groovey.tv, 11/12/13
For the first time the information about these six people is available all in one place combined with one person's perspective on the events which are surprisingly similar.”

January Magazine, Best Books of 2013,” 1/3/14

A tragically wonderful read.”

PopMatters.Com, 1/27/14

Make no mistake, Sounes did heavy lifting to make this book as authoritative as possible If you want exhaustive, at times exhausting detail regarding their collective debauchery, 27 may have that kind of perverse train wreck appeal Sounes helpfully demolishes any/all conspiracy theories, ranging from the familiar (Morrison lives!) to the far-fetched (Hendrix was murdered) 27 also serves as a corrective of sorts for the half-assed mythologizing, particularly of Morrison and Cobain.”

John Shelton Ivany Top 21, Issue #438

Great read! Goes into detail of past music artists that passed away at age 27.”

Milwaukee Shepherd-Expres, 4/9/2014
So what's behind the curse of 27? Sounes explores the lives and deaths of the six most prominent casualties.”

Fans of these musicians will be intrigued and saddened by this fascinating and tragic account.” Booklist, 11/15/13

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