The death of Amy Winehouse has resurfaced a fascination with Forever 27 or the 27 Club. Although the exact membership of the 27 Club is argued, the members that seem to be stalwarts are Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain. Now some are saying the 27 Club has inducted a new member, Amy Winehouse. I have seen discussions on this matter already play out in coffee houses as well as message boards and I thought I would present both sides of the issue.
Most message board discussions on this issue lead to someone saying that Winehouse is not talented and then a firestorm breaks out. I do not think there is any arguing Winehouse’s talent. If you need to read about her talent several excellent articles have been posted about it on Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and Guardian. But the 27 Club is not just about talented people who died at 27, something else is included in the membership.
Looking at the four main members of this “club,” it is easy to draw parallels. There are superficial parallels one can draw like all four members were born on the West coast of the United States. While that is true, I doubt that membership to the club has anything to do with where you were born.
The deep parallels start with the basics: all the members of the club are singer/songwriters. In this case, Winehouse is actually good. She fits this major criteria while other 27 Club wannabes like Brian Jones do not.
All the members of the 27 Club released at least three albums during their life. Hendrix released three albums with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, while Cobain released three albums with Nirvana. Joplin released three albums during her life: two with Big Brother and the Holding Company and one with Kozmic Blues Band. She released one posthumous album with Full Tilt Boogie Band. Morrison is by far the most productive member of the 27 Club having released six albums with the Doors before his death.
In this case, Winehouse does not quite fit the 27 Club mold. She only released two albums, 2003’s Frank and 2006’s Back to Black. Only one of those albums achieved major success in the US, Back in Black. All the other members of the club have at least two platinum albums in the US. As of this time, Frank has not garnered platinum status.
But perhaps most damning against of all against Winehouse is the final category. All except Cobain are in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and the only reason Cobain is not is because Nirvana is not yet eligible. Because the ways of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame are a mystery to many, I can not say for certainty that Winehouse will not one day being in the Hall. What I can say is that as of this time, she does not appear to be a sure bet.
Unfortunately, I think not being a sure bet to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame also means that she is not a sure bet for the 27 Club either. While I can not argue her talent level and the world of possibility that was before her, I do not think that she made the impact on her short time on earth that other members of the illustrious club has. What do you think?