What better way to see in 2017 than to look back over the total shitstorm that was 2016. It did seem that not a week would go by without a significant celebrity death.
While this gave us the chance to dig out the old “but yet Bieber/Kanye/Honey G is still alive” jokes, it isn’t the first time that we’ve encountered the idea of curses around rock and roll.
The 2016 curse has joined the infamous 27 club, but are either clubs actually a thing, or just an invention by a media intent on putting a narrative on even the most morbid of things? If they have some foundation then which of these curses is worse?
27 Club (Notable Members):
Brian Jones, from The Rolling Stones – cause of death: drowning/ death by misadventure.
Jimi Hendrix – cause of death: asphyxiation caused by barbiturate overdose.
Janis Joplin – cause of death: heroin overdose.
Jim Morrison, from The Doors – cause of death: heart failure (possible drug overdose).
Pete Ham, from Badfinger – cause of death: suicide.
Kurt Cobain, from Nirvana – cause of death: suicide.
Richey Edwards, from Manic Street Preachers – cause of death: missing, presumed dead by suicide.
Amy Winehouse – cause of death: Alcohol Poisoning.
The one thing that stands out with these is that the majority of the deaths in this list can be attributed to either drug abuse or suicide. It’s probably not entirely coincidental that the initial bulk of these deaths come in the late 60’s or early 1970’s. All the artists who died during that initial period had only really been huge for four years at most, during the drugs explosion of the era.
When you have people of huge stature, success and wealth in a new environment where hedonism and excess are not just accepted but expected and you’ve created the ultimate cocktail for premature death. Out of the 100’s of rock stars who indulged in that period, it’s in reality it’s a relatively small cross section who succumbed to it at the hallowed age of 27.
Unfortunate, yes. Truly tragic? Probably not. That’s not to belittle their deaths, but comparative to 2016’s unfortunate party, none of these deaths are all that shocking when you look at the excessive behaviour of these people around the time of their deaths.
When we look at 2016’s notable deaths, there were more “oh shit” moments where we were shocked by their unexpected the death.
Take David Bowie, for instance; no one even knew he was ill, right in the middle of yet another career renaissance and more active than ever, then suddenly he was gone. No background mutterings, no press gossip as to his illness. The first we knew of it was when he finally succumbed.
The same was the case with Prince. No one would have guessed that the straight edged workaholic would overdose on opiate painkillers.
Carrie Fisher, shocking. Alan Rickman, surprising. Even George Michael’s passing was shocking despite his recent health and drug problems.
That’s perhaps why 2016’s curse has resonated even more than the 27 club even. That element of straight up surprise and WTF.
Most of the 27 club comprises of people who were realistically never long for this world, many of the 2016 pack felt like they’d be around forever.
The 27 club may be more romantic: going out with youth, fame and vigour, but 2016 was more heart breaking, even if the cynics will argue that it’s not as unusual for people aged 60-90 to die like people in their late 20’s.
Then, of course, there’s Brexit and trump all adding to the idea that 2016 has been severely screwed up. But time’s just a construct… just saying!