Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Books: 27: A History of the 27 Club by Howard Sounes (DeCapo, 2013)

It has become engraved in urban legend and folklore that many prominent entertainers, particularly musicians, die during the 27th year of their lives. The author of this book, Howard Sounes, examines this phenomena through the lens of six of the most prominent members of the "27 Club," musicians Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. What results is a mix of dogged journalism and TMZ-like gossip mongering. A sordid path of addiction runs through the six musicians examined here, hard drugs: heroin and heavy pills washed down with copious amounts of booze led them down the road to ruin. The book becomes a series of cautionary tales as we watch musician after musician squander their talent and then their lives. To Sounes credit, he does not try to mythologize the musicians he writes about, and he tries to bring a well rounded portrait of each. It does get to be a bummer after a while, the stories are very similar: musician rockets to fame, takes to alcohol and drugs to alleviate the grind of touring and the hangers-on and sycophants that surround them. Addiction takes its toll and the musicians begin to crumble, felled by suicide, overdose and accident. Alas, some of those very toadies that caused the stress are the ones supplying many of the quotes for this book. It's a sad story, but captivating at times. 27: A History of the 27 Club - amazon.com

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