Jul 25, 2011

A piffling statistical analysis of the 27-club

This week, we lost a talented singer because there is something built into human nature that means, sometimes, the power of addiction is stronger than the power to survive.

I don't want to write a blog post about Amy Winehouse. guy_interrupted has already nailed it in words, while Paul Gambaccini has bottled it perfectly on a BBC video despite appearing to be in the middle of a nasty upper-lip infection.

What I want to do is focus on is the response. Or rather, a little thing that happened amid the torrent of tweets that either paid tribute to Amy Winehouse or, oddly, slagged off those paying tribute to Amy Winehouse because the slaggers thought their own tribute was more worthy.

Many people on the netosphere took offence that people were declaring that Amy had joined the 27-club. That's the elite list of rock stars that died aged 27. It seemed trite to mention a piffling statistic, they said. And yes, it is trite.

And disrespectful.

But since you are reading a blog that came up with the Bri Chart, an analysis of Boring Pauls, a point-by-point comparison of Karen O and Brian Eno and an admittedly impressive list of crowd-sourced Aphex Twin animal puns, and since I've never been too concerned about crowd-pleasing on this festering corner of the interweb, I might as well analyse the 27-club claim.

For more sensitive readers, this may turn out to be too scientific for your feeble brains. I advise you to switch off your computer now and lie down in a dark room.

Firstly, I need good stats. I should look no further than a King James Bible fan site called 'av1611' that tries to demonstrate that rock stars "DIE in youth, and their life is among the unclean" because "their rock is not our Rock".

They have a massive chart of rock star deaths that shows the average age of rock star death is less than half that of the average American death rate. It's pretty convincing.

The fact that a musician who became a teen rock star in the 1960s isn't old enough yet to reach the American mean survival age is a triviality of which, I suspect, their God would not approve.

And so there's Johnny Ace, the Youngest Rock Star Ever To Die. Suicide at 25. You remember Johnny Ace, yeah? He played trombone in the Bluetones or something.

And then there's Frank Zappa, the Oldest Rock Star Ever To Die. Cancer at 52. Or, as the site would insist, 'Wages Of Sin' at 52.

This is science. Pay attention.

Usefully, the fundamentalist Christian website lists the death ages of almost all of the 300+ listed. And so I embarked on a deep exploration of the data on this site. How? I copied and pasted it to Excel.

The result demonstrates there is a 27-club of sorts. On their list, 17 rock stars died age 27. They are:

Chris Bell from Big Star (pictured);
Dennes Boon from Minutemen;
Kurt Cobain from Nirvana;
Les Harvey from Stone The Crows;
Jimi Hendrix from his own Experience;
Robert Johnson
Brian Jones from the 'Stones;
Janis Joplin
Johnny Kidd
Helmut Koellen from Triumvirate;
Jimmy McCulloch from Wings;
Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan from the Grateful Dead;
Jim Morrison from The Doors;
Gary Thain from Uriah Heap;
Jason Thirsk from Pennywise;
Al Wilson from Canned Heat;
Wallace Yohn from Chase.

My Excel spreadsheet also shows, however, that 16 admittedly less-famous rock stars died age 38. The 27-club also has some fairly well populated neighbours: 13 died aged 30 and 13 kicked the bucket aged 24.

As a result of that extremely accurate analysis from a fundie-God site (as representative of real Christianity as shoe-bombers are of real Islam), I'd like to suggest we rename the 27-club.

It is henceforth known as the 27-38-24-30-and-some-other-ages-inbetween-but-mostly-27-kind-of-doesn't-really-matter-anyway-club. Everyone who agrees on Twitter, stamp your feet 27 times. No. 38 times. No...


jpm said...

Hmm, this website spanks dangerously of Science.

I logged on to read your 1518 page manifesto and instead you're attempting to use things like logic and perspective....


Fat Roland said...

I'm not a blogger. I'm just a very naughty boy.

Ha! I've just posted this to Facebook and it has put your comment as the description.

Tim F said...

And when Elvis Presley died, he weighed 27 stone. Probably.

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Fat Roland said...

Tim - If you attribute A=1, B=2 etc to Elvis' name, subtracting ELVIS from PRESLEY gives you 27.

i spammer free - You haven't updated your blog for nearly a year. Come on. Chop chop. Get writing.

Tim - PS: probably.