Why have famous musicians died at 27?
The news of Amy Winehouse's death is tragic not only due to the fact that she had so much talent, but also because she was young, and her death was most likely brought on by her addictions.
Amy Winehouse was 27 years old when she died. There are a number of other famous musicians who died at 27. Those musicians include:
- Amy Winehouse
- Kurt Cobain
- Janis Joplin
- Jimi Hendrix
- Jim Morrison
- Brian Jones
- Robert Johnson
Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison, and Jones all died within two years of each other.
Why does it seem that young musicians have died at 27? There is a "Forever 27 Club" listing on Wikipedia, and people have created websites about a "27 Curse."
Are these musician deaths at the age of 27 just a coincidence? Or is there really a "27 Curse"?
There is a social psychology phenomenon known as causal attribution. This is when a person (or society) attributes outcomes to particular causes. When there is a tragic death, such as that of a famous young person, we tend to look for a reason why it happened. We try to make sense of it. And when we can't make sense of it, we find a way for it to make sense. And when a number of famous musicians have died young, we try to find a common thread, in order to make sense of it all. So the "27 Curse" began.
Finding a reason or cause for an event after the event has happened, such as with the "27 Curse," can be a form of self-protection. If you have to get through your work day with the knowledge that a tragic event has occurred, it makes sense that attributing a reason or cause to that event would help keep your mood level enough that you could get through the day. Sometimes we just aren't ready to challenge those attributions -- maybe not now, maybe not ever.
Attributing causality helps give us order and predictability to our lives. Without it, the unpredictability of life would bring many of us to our knees. Attributing causality is neither good nor bad, it just is. It's part of being human.
So when you are wondering if the "27 Curse" exists, consider:
- A majority of famous musicians, many of whom who have admitted to past drug use, have lived well past 27 years old.
Causal attribution helps us feel better by giving predictability to an unpredictable world, but our attributions are not always completely accurate.