Forever 27

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Many rockers have chanted the Who's mantra, "Hope I die before I get old." But why have so many left us at age 27?

Jim Morrison (1943-1971)

Unlike the Beatles, Jim Morrison and the Doors explored the darker side of rock with lyrics focusing on violence and death. Between 1967 and 1970, the Doors poured out hits like "Light My Fire," "Riders on the Storm" and "Hello, I Love You," but by 1969 Morrison's alcohol and drug problems provoked erratic concerts often interrupted by drunken confusion, culminating in his arrest for indecent exposure and public drunkenness at a Miami gig. Physically and emotionally drained and facing legal problems, Morrison moved to Paris to recuperate. On July 3, 1971, he was found dead in his bathtub, a victim of a heart attack. Due to the secretive and confusing circumstances surrounding his death and burial, many fans refuse to believe that Morrison is really dead and buried in a Paris cemetery.

Janis Joplin (1943-1970)

The gritty, R&B-infused vocals and legendary hard living of Janis Joplin revived the role of the female blues singer in contemporary rock. As the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Joplin scored a number of hits in the mid 1960s - "Piece of My Heart," "Ball and Chain," "Summertime" - and she mesmerized the crowd at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. But on October 4, 1970, shortly after completing the recording of her classic album Pearl, Joplin was found dead of a heroin overdose in a Hollywood hotel. While the overdose is listed as the official cause of death, many feel that the years of living life at light speed took their toll on Joplin.

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)

The life of Kurt Cobain, the singer-songwriter for Nirvana and a leader of the Seattle grunge movement in the early 1990s, was one of contradictions. His anti-establishment message became the rallying cry for a new generation, but as the band became more popular and successful, Cobain became increasingly depressed, saying that fans were missing the point. Between May 1993 and April 1994, Cobain overdosed at least three times and often threatened suicide. Police were called to his home in March 1994 when he locked himself in a room with a revolver, and Cobain then checked into a Los Angeles hospital for treatment. He only stayed two days. A week later Cobain was found dead in a room above his garage with a shotgun wound to the head.

Adapted from Condensed Knowledge (HarperCollins), available at leading bookstores. For a daily dose of quirky fun visit and check out for details on the mental_floss "College Ain't Cheap $50,000 Tuition Giveaway." Deadline for entries is Jan. 31.