July 23, 2011

The rock-star curse of 27

I don't have much to add about Amy Winehouse–I was not a particular fan, though damn, that girl had some pipes. Also, "Rehab" was a stand-by of my absolute favorite BQT audio round, "Slooow Songs." The chorus of the song, played at half speed and completely hilarious: I must have used that in a couple thousand BQT private quizzes, last Thursday among them.

In the BQT's history, I've asked only one verbal question relating to Ms. Winehouse—"What name does Amy Winehouse have tattooed above her left breast?
"—which is nothing to write home about. But in the crush of Winehousian coverage the past few hours, I've stumbled upon this fact: She was 27 years old. The same age as a startling number of rock & roll legends at their own deaths. Such as…

Shocking how young he was; I always found his music to have a certain aged wisdom to it. Plus, he was kind of a good guitarist.

Janis Joplin
Never a favorite of mine, but her story is a potently sad one.

Jim Morrison
I'm sorry, but the Doors were awful, and Morrison's mushy-headed pretension was a major factor. He is the most overrated figure in the history of rock & roll (or was; the cult seems to have tapered off). If he had lived, he'd be selling insurance or something now. (Oh, come on, you didn't know him personally.)

Kurt Cobain
"Voice of his generation" is such a cliché, but I think it fit for him. I didn't appreciate Nirvana till after he died, I'm sorry to say, but his perspective is still with us.

Brian Jones
Original guitarist for the Rolling Stones; the archetype of a proper bad-boy rock star, in that he loved sex (had six kids) and drugs (that's what killed him), but the music was of primal importance.

Robert Johnson
A near-mythic figure in the early days of American blues; supposedly sold his soul to the devil to gain his talent. Why no one has made a movie about this guy is beyond me.

Pete Ham
Frontman of Badfinger, who gave us more than a couple of wonderful songs in the '70s. "Baby Blue" absolutely wrecks me every time.

Chris Bell
Best known as one of the founders of Big Star, though he didn't stick around for long. His solo hit (well, among power-pop aficionados), "I Am the Cosmos," is pure magic.

D. Boon
Leader of the Minutemen; not my favorite postpunkers, but a truly unique band. Also, anytime you want to piss off a hipster rock geek, tell them Double Nickels on the Dime sucks.

Wikipedia has a nerdily comprehensive list, of course. So why 27? What is it about that age? Is that the year when the hard living of popular music catches up with the hardest-living? Let's discuss. In the meantime, pray for your favorite early-twenties rock star.

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