A Brief History of the 27 Club

50 musicians have died at age 27. Here, Howard Sounes recalls their final hours

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When famous people die, the circumstances are often embellished and complicated until mysteries arise. This is borne out repeatedly with the 27s, and it goes back a long way. After Robert Johnson died in 1938, his life was turned into a supernatural legend involving a pact with the Devil. The fact that Johnson and Brian Jones died at the same age as a series of other great performers has encouraged mythologizing. Theories entwine around these unhappy lives, until it becomes difficult to make out what actually happened.

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