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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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Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Ronald McKernan

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan was a sensitive, somewhat unsightly character with a drink problem. He got together with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir in 1964 to form a jug band that developed into the Grateful Dead. Pigpen started drinking when he was twelve and by his midtwenties he had cirrhosis of the liver, ulcers and other health problems. Pigpen was on his own at his apartment in Corte Madera, overlooking San Francisco Bay, when the end came on March 8th, 1973. He had been dead for up to two days when his landlady found him.

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