Yes, we’ve all grown tired of the fact that bee-hived singer Amy Winehouse died last week. But, no matter the mysterious, magical way that she passed, Winehouse has now inducted herself into the infamous “27 Club,” a ragtag coterie of rockers who all happened to die at the age of 27. The list includes such famed ragers as: Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin. So let’s honor Winehouse by talking about the lesser-known musicians who are jamming with her right now in Hell:
1 Robert Johnson
A very early member of the 27 Club, Robert Johnson was also — to many — the progenitor of “modern” blues. Though he experienced no real success during his lifetime, Johnson greatly inspired the field of music after his oeuvre was re-released in 1961. He had quite the life, traveling about and playing his music for which he had an uncanny talent, spawning his own Faustian myth (selling his soul to play). Ol’ Scratch apparently wanted to call in Robbie’s soul early, as the troubled troubadour was poisoned by the scorned husband of one of his sexual conquests in 1938.
2 D. Boon
Fronted by still-rocking Mike Watt, the Minutemen are often referred to as the godfathers of West Coast punk (the older, good kind). Our greatest living rock historian, Michael Azerrad, even appropriated one of the Minuteman’s song titles for his omnibus tome about the history of ’80s underground punk/hardcore music, “Our Band Could Be Your Life.” And, yes, “Jackass” might suck, but the show’s theme is a Minuteman song. Anyway, the rubenesque D. Boon (real name Dennes Dale Boon) played guitar and sung for the trio before dying in an unfortunate van accident that ended both his life and the band forever.
3 Ron “Pigpen” McKernan
I think the Grateful Dead are annoying. But, they definitely created something of a genre in masturbatorial jam band funk folk pop pap. Turns out one of their founding members, Pigpen, joined the 27 Club in 1973 due to a gastrointestinal hemorrhage (drinking). He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of the Dead in 1994, and probably would’ve been more grateful to have survived as one of the world’s richest hippies.
4 Jean-Michel Basquiat
American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat led one of the more contentious lives of the modern-day art world, having bridged the gap between the elitist pop world with the underground street art scene growing out of the Bowery and the Village at the time. Hanging around with Andy Warhol and reminding all of his fellow young artists that, “Hey, we can get rich doing this shit, too,” Basquiat got into everything from fine art to graffiti to acting to filmmaking to rap music (both performing and producing) to doing all the drugs that’s fit to print. He died of a speedball overdose in 1988.
5 Dave Alexander
The one thing that all the early punk rockers had in common — aside from smelling awful — was their all being totally into the Stooges. Frontman Iggy Pop (who still walks amongst us, defying modern medicine, Keith Richards-style) started the band in 1967 with Dave Alexander who was the group’s original bassist and was credited by Pop as having been the “primary composer” on such Stooges’ favorites as “1970.” Alexander was fired from the band that same year due to drunken behavior (in a band like the Stooges, that’s astounding) and died five years later of pulmonary edema that came of his pancreatitis brought on by, you guessed it, said heroic drink intake. Glug glug.