Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sad Membership...

The so-called "27 Club" gained a new member last week when the talented and troubled Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment. Cause of death is as yet undetermined, but given the singer's recent history, a safe bet would be drug overdose. If that theory bears out, we'll still probably never know whether it was accidental or intentional. And really, it's none of our business. Either way, it's another heartbreaking chapter in music history, and will only add to the sad mystique of the "27 Club".

Brian Jones.
Jimi Hendrix.
Janis Joplin.
Jim Morrison.
Kurt Cobain.

Those are the "major" stars in the 27 Club. There are lots of others, with varying degrees of reknown, but these five are the most well known. Despite having only released two studio albums, Amy Winehouse will likely be thought of along with those top five who died at age 27, arguably at the height of their respective careers. Her addictions and public antics aside, she had an amazing voice and a fresh way of phrasing things.

That's really the saddest part of it... all that talent lost. Can you imagine what new musical ground Jimi Hendrix would have broken if he had lived even another 20 years? Or what further impact Kurt Cobain and Nirvana might have had on rock/alternative music had he not opted to check out early? It boggles the mind! Such a waste.

So is it the 27th year that's a curse? It think it's just a coincidence. A lot of people who are insanely creative and talented in some way seem to be, well, a little insane. It seems as though very gifted people battle a lot of demons. History is littered with examples. (Hello... Van Gogh, anyone?)

Do great artists HAVE to suffer for their art, and abuse themselves and/or die tragically? I think not. There are also plenty of examples of immensely talented people coping with their lives (and demons) successfully. (Picasso, hell... even Keith Richards is still around!)

Granted, with success often comes excess, and that almost certainly contributes to some of these untimely deaths. But I have to wonder if better coping skills play a part in avoiding them, and whether a troubled soul like Ms. Winehouse would have come to a tragic end at some point anyway without those coping skills. I don't know what the answer is. I just know it's damn shame to needlessly lose a talent like that. Amy, I hope you're finally at peace.

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