The 3rd of July this year marked the 45th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death. As controversial frontman of The Doors, Morrison was my first rock hero, and played no small part in introducing me to 60s rock music when I was a teenager (and I was a teenager in the 90s, not the 60s – I hasten to add). A member of the 27 Club, so-called because all of the musicians said to be inducted, all died at the age of 27. More to the point – a select group of music icons who shuffled of this mortal coil at 27 because of their wayward, party-hard lifestyles.
In addition to Morrison, the unlucky members include Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and more recently, Amy Winehouse.
Aside from the 27 Club, Sid Vicious snuffed it even younger, at the tender age of 21, following a heroin overdose and having stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death. The epitome of punk rock and and a wasted life, Vicious lived his short life as fatalistically and nihilistically as anyone in public eye that I can think of.
None of this could be classed as breaking news though, so why am I talking about this now? And the answer is because I am 35 and I have now outlived them all (something that I would never have thought possible when I was younger). Everyone wants to be sexy young corpse don’t they? Have you ever heard of anyone who thought it was cool to be in the 35 Club? No, me neither.
If I continue through the pantheon of rock ‘n’ roll idols who met their maker too soon – and in chronology of age – the next up would be Keith Moon and John Bonham; two legendary, hellraising drummers (albeit chronic alcoholics), who both died at the age of 32. Needless to say I’m older than them now too. Next in the list (and probably less familiar to most of you) is Gary Holton; most famous for appearing in 80s comedy-drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, but also lead singer with glam punk band, The Heavy Metal Kids. Dead at 33.
Moving away from music for a moment – bearded, tattooed daredevil Ryan Dunn of Jackass fame – perished after crashing his car at high speed (whilst drunk) at 34. And yes, I am older now than he was too.
Moving upwards beyond my age, GG Allin was gone at 36 which is remarkable really, when you consider his reckless life. It’s no secret that I’ve long been a fan of GG – I’ve written about him many times previously and I even went as far as getting his portrait tattooed on my leg not so long ago. There’s a fair gap after Allin, before we get to Sebastian Horsley; another important figure on my list and another inspiration for numerous blog posts and one of my first tattoos. He died at 47.
Beyond which we have Joe Strummer of The Clash who passed away at 50 and then the list becomes far less cool and much more embarrassing, as most things in life seem to with age, alas! *
Now it has been noted by many that 2016 has been the year of celebrity deaths (which makes a change from the Yew Tree list I suppose), with the likes of Lemmy from Motorhead, David Bowie and Terry Wogan all dropping down dead in the last 12 months. My favourite person to point this out is one of great thinkers and social commentators of our time, Paul Chuckle on Twitter:
The celebs who have died in 2016 – from Prince and Prince to Alan Rickman https://t.co/6qbzhOh5cz
— Paul Chuckle (@PaulChuckle2) 21 April 2016
So where does this leave me? In the words of Ian Anderson from 70s prog-rock giants, Jethro Tull (and still not dead):
“Too old to rock ‘n’ roll, too young to die.”
* Notable mentions who didn’t make it into this blog post include: Mary Millington, Ian Stuart Donaldson, Steve McQueen, John Holmes, Seth Putnam and Marc Bolan.