Excess and tragedy are the stuff of music legend, but it is only with hindsight that deeper patterns emerge. None of these is more striking than the deaths at age 27 of some of the greatest musicians of our time.
Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Brian Jones. Kurt Cobain. Founding bluesman Robert Johnson. All died at 27. Their stories, as well as those of ill-fated members of the Grateful Dead, The Stooges, Badfinger, Big Star, Minutemen, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Mars Volta, are here presented for the first time as a profound and interlocking web that reaches beyond coincidence to the roots of artistic causality and fate.
The 27s is the first comprehensive account of the lives and legacies of the thirty-four musicians who make up (to date) rock’s most notorious myth. It is also a capsule history of rock & roll, twisting and turning through decades and genres, unfurling layers of numerology, philosophy, and astrology along the way. The text is complemented by compelling and multifaceted artwork that brings a nonlinear graphic-novel edge to this major contribution to the study of rock culture.
The 27s also include crooner Jesse Belvin ("Earth Angel," "Goodnight My Love"), Rudy Lewis of the Drifters, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Malcolm Hale of Spanky And Our Gang, Alan Wilson from Canned Heat, Arlester Christian of Dyke And the Blazers, Jim Morrison, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of the Grateful Dead, Pete Ham of Badfinger, Gary Thain of Uriah Heep and Keef Hartley Band, Roger Lee Durham of Bloodstone, Helmut Köllen of Triumvirat, Chris Bell of Big Star, D. Boon of Minutemen, Pete de Freitas of Echo & the Bunnymen, Mia Zapata of the Gits, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Kristin Pfaff of Hole, Raymond "Freaky Tah" Rogers of Lost Boyz, Sean McCabe of Ink & Dagger, Jeremy Michael Ward of De Facto and The Mars Volta, Bryan Ottoson of American Head Charge, and Valentin Elizalde.
“The deaths of these rock stars at the age of 27 really changed the way we look at rock music.”
—National Public Radio
“As much as this book is about The 27s, it is about music; about America; about the art and perils of the music industry; about the mystique behind death at age 27; and finally about history itself. The 27s is a must read for anyone interested in knowing more about the greatest musicians of modern times. It's presented like a resonance of sound in the clearest grain of a violin.”
—Ian Halperin, NY Times bestselling author/filmmaker, Director of The film The Cobain Case, Author of Who Killed Kurt Cobain and Love and Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain
“If you’re a rock-an-roller, watch out once you hit the age of 27.”
“In addition to a music history, The 27s is also an artistically arresting book, thanks to Hunter’s eye-popping artwork, which is woven through the text in the manner of a graphic novel. It can be read linearly, or at random.”
—Atlanta Journal of Constitution
“A wild and creative romp through the crazy but true world of the phenomenon of rock stars dying far too young. The graphic novel approach to this book is vividly wild, and fantastic...”
—Charles R. Cross, author of Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix and Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain
“Segalstad and Hunter take the reader on a journey through 4 decades of Rock N Roll history and mythos without sinking into sycophantic hero worship. Think Allred's Red Rocket 7 meets Rock and Roll 101 with great graphic design and a little bit of numerology and geometry thrown in for good measure.”
—Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools
“This Rock Epistle goes from cool to creepy and back to cool. The tone of the book is magical and modern, a little sad but goes to the wealth of material these artists produced and applauds their passion. Hendrix did Carson? Yes! Some amazing facts come to light in this amazing new book.”
“The paradoxically lively tome explores the grisly mystery in vivid yet reverential detail, from household names like Janis and Jimi to lesser known but nonetheless influential artists such as early R&B singer Jesse Belvin, Big Star’s Chris Bell and more recent inductees including The Mars Volta’s Jeremy Michael Ward.”
—Burlington’s Seven Days
“Despite never focusing on a single person for long, it’s clear that they fully understand the essence of each subject’s artistry.”
“What you've put together really is amazing… The illustrations are integral to the whole presentation… It’s fascinating; it’s truly unusual.”
—Canadian radio personality Roy Green
“The 27s maps out the stories of some of our most beloved musicians through a very compelling myth and, in that way, brings to life the musicians whose deaths seemed so untimely. Hunter’s graphic novel-styled illustrations—drawings of musicians, colorfully stylized quotes and sidebars, maps, silhouettes, images of the roads and pills that killed The 27s, scraps of the suicide notes—swirl around Segalstad’s intriguing, non-linear storylines, creating a highly-stylized but absolutely in-depth snapshot of the history of rock & roll.”
“The 27s uses stylized artwork, and employs music history, maps, timelines, musical references and recommendations, mysticism, and involved essays to provide various theories on why the phenomenon of musical geniuses dying by 27 exists.”
“The 27s goes so much deeper than I expected. It's not just Jimi, Janis and Jim in this club after all. The storytelling method is unique [and] the illustrations make this book truly special.”
—Matt Simpson, CBS program director for the legendary New York City rock station WNEW