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“The 27 Club.” Kurt Cobain was one of the pantheon of American popular music stars who shot quickly to iconic celebrity and died from substance abuse at 27 (or, in his case, a shotgun wound to his head after years of heroin addiction). Cobain became famous as the lead singer/guitarist/songwriter for the rock band Nirvana, which he formed in 1987. Though the son of an auto mechanic and a waitress (who divorced when he was young), a great-uncle had been a singer who had appeared in the 1930 film ”King of Jazz,” an uncle who was a member of The Beachcombers, a guitarist aunt who performed in local bands, and another aunt who was a professional artist; but there was also a family history alcoholism and mental illness, and two uncles and a great-uncle committed suicide with guns. In his adolescence he became increasingly alienated, rebellious, and antisocial, dropping out of high school two weeks before graduation to immerse himself in the Seattle-area punk music scene, which he helped transform into the sub-genre called grunge by merging its aesthetic with that of heavy metal. (Grunge music is characterized by a sludgy guitar sound and a high level of distortion, typically created with small, cheap stompbox pedals, dissonant harmony, and complex instrumentation.) Cobain said that music had priority over lyrics, but he labored over the words and often changed their content and order during performances; he characterized his Beat-inspired lyrics as "a big pile of contradictions. They're split down the middle between very sincere opinions that I have and sarcastic opinions and feelings that I have and sarcastic and hopeful, humorous rebuttals toward cliché bohemian ideals that have been exhausted for years." Cobain was cremated and his remains were scattered in the Wishkah river, a monument to him was erected along the river in 2009, which quoted him saying, "Drugs are bad for you. They will fuck you up". The city of Aberdeen sandblasted away the expletive, but fans immediately drew the letters back in.Between 1969 and 1971, Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison all died at the age of 27 as a direct or indirect effect of drug abuse. When Jones died, Pete Townshend of The Who wrote a poem, "A Normal Day for Brian, A Man Who Died Every Day," and Morrison wrote another, "Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased." But it was not until a generation later, when Cobain killed himself in 1994, that the idea of a “27 Club” emerged. In 2008, Pete Wentz wrote about the hedonistic rock-and-roll lifestyle called "27," which appeared on Fall Out Boy’s album “Folie à Deux,”and the following year John Craigie included “28” on his album, “Montana Tale,” its three verses referring to the deaths of Morrison, Joplin, and Cobain. In 2011, 17 years after Cobain's death, Amy Winehouse also died of drug abuse at 27, reviving the connection and leading to more songs on the subject, all of which appeared in 2013: "27 Club" by letlive, on the album “The Blackest Beautiful;””27 Forever” by Eric Burdon, who had partied with Hendrix on the night of his death, on “'Til Your River Runs Dry;”and Magenta’s 6-track album, “The Twenty Seven Club,”each dealing with one of its legendary members (“The Lizard King” [Morrison], “Ladyland Blues” [Hendrix], “Pearl” [Joplin], “Stoned” [Jones], “The Gift” [Cobain], and “The Devil at the Crossroads” [Robert Johnson, an itinerant performer who played mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances whose handful of 1936-1937 recordings were reissued in 1961, leading to his being regarded as "the most important blues singer that ever lived,” in Eric Clapton’s words; Johnson was believed to have sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads on Highway 61 in Clarksdale, Mississippi.]
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