What Is Behind Our Culture’s Morbid Obsession With Dead Musicians?

Films like Amy, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck and now Janis: Little Girl Blue have reignited our fascination. But why?

With the recent crop of 27 club documentariesAmy Berg’s Janis: Little Girl Blue, Asif Kapadia’s Amy, and Brett Morgen’s Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck— a strong yet morbid fascination with this group of musicians has resurfaced. Infamous within popular folklore, the club consists of famous artists who all died at the age of 27, mostly due to drug and alcohol abuse. Many conspiracy theories exists- did the illuminati kill them all? Or maybe it was the FBI? Apart from this mostly frivolous tabloid rumors, the group holds a major place in public intrigue. The most recent inductee was songstress Amy Winehouse, who passed away in 2011.

The public’s newly renewed fascination with the club is curious, and raises a few questions- why now? And, more importantly, why are we so fascinated with the 27 club in the first place?

The most obvious point is the groundbreaking nature of the artists. For example, the three musicians mentioned above were all musical revolutionaries in their own way. Janis Joplin, first as the frontwoman of Big Brother and the Holding Company, and later the Kozmic Blues Band, was the first prominent female figure in rock and roll. She is largely credited with paving the way for women in the genre, as well as rejecting gender roles with her boisterous personality and wild performances. Kurt Cobain, lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana, was grunge’s first star. He was the epicenter of the movement, and his band was the first to introduce the new genre to mainstream America. Most recently, Amy Winehouse revolutionized autobiographical songwriting and brought jazz and soul back into the musical mainstream. Far from conforming to our typical idea of a celebrity, they questioned societal boundaries, whether it be gender roles or the very meaning of what a celebrity should be. These legacies would undoubtedly still be intact if the artists were still alive today; but would we be as interested in them?

Embedded from www.youtube.com.