Amy Winehouse‘s death devastated fans, but also put Ms. Winehouse in a elite and tragic group. She was age 27 when she was found dead in her home this past weekend, and she joins the list of famous rockers and musicians who also met their end at the same age.
Wikipedia has a very comprehensive list of musicians who were 27 when they expired (you can read it here), but now I’m going to list off some of the greatest songs by the 5 most famous and iconic members of this club. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, who passed the same year one month from each other. The Doors’ front man Jim Morrison, Nirvana’s leader Kurt Cobain and of course Amy Winehouse. All of these artists not only met their end before hitting 30, but they also all died due to their destructive lifestyles.
They all have incredible music (some more than others of course), and all left a legacy and are still remembered to this day. To make the process of putting this list together simpler, I’m only including songs that were officially released as singles in their heyday.
10. The Doors “Hello, I Love You”
I love this track, it’s a funky little number from their 1968 album “Waiting for the Sun”. It’s also one of the few Doors tracks that are simply about having fun and not bogged down by trying to be too deep. It even has a MOD feel about it that seperates it from a lot of their deeper and longer jam sessions.
9. Amy Winehouse “Rehab”
Her signature song, about rejecting help because “there’s nothing you can teach me, that I can’t learn from Mr. Hathaway”. It’s actually a little haunting knowing how she came to her end, but if “music is my therapy” is the point than it’s some great therapy. The production and her vocal play is tops, and the song is a clear classic.
8. The Doors “People Are Strange”
A perfect pshycadellic trip of a song, and an anthem for all the outsiders and rebels in the world. The weird instrumentation is one great element, but the way Morrison sings it takes it to another level. It’s one of his simplest lyrics and possibly The Doors’ most relateable song.
7. Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
This is the song that apparently defined a generation of Grunge-r’s, and the song that put Nirvana on the map. This song dominated MTV at it’s peak and made Nirvana the top selling rock group of the time. Many tried to duplicate Cobain’s raw vocals that go from mumbles to rage in a millisecond, and many have tried to match the sheer power and energy of the arrangement. None have come close though. This is another true classic of Rock and Alternative.
6. Jimi Hendrix “All Along the Watchtower”
This is one of those songs that everybody has heard once or twice but might not realize it’s Hendrix. That was the case for me when I first started getting into his music about 4 years ago, once the song came in with the famous guitar strums I knew I knew the song but just didn’t know how. This (like The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”) is a standard in any Vietnam, hippie and counterculture films and television programming. Reason being, it captures the heart of that era perfectly ” too much confusion I cant get no relief”. I’m not a big fan of Hendrix’s voice, but the guitar work here proves that he was a genius at handling that instrument.
5. Amy Winehouse “You Know I’m No Good”
A confessional and a warning to any prospective lover, she’s “trouble”. Winehouse and producer Mark Ronson really went to work on this track, from her ultra-bluesy vocals and his horn-laden Motown inspired track this is another indicator that Amy could live up to her hype with her music.
4. Jimi Hendrix “Foxy Lady”
It really doesn’t get much funkier than this classic. A perfect merger of the Rock and Blues sounds of the 60’s, and also a perfect example of why Hendrix was so important. A truly limitless musician, who wasn’t afraid to throw caution to what was IN or what he was supposed to be as a black man. “Foxy” works for anybody who enjoys good music and isn’t boxed in by musical prejudice.
3. Nirvana “Come As You Are”
This shows a far more subdued Nirvana than on “Teen Spirit”, this may actually be Nirvana’s most “pleasant” song before the major switch for the hooks. Not as big of a hit as “Teen Spirit”, but the melodies used here are ace. For me it’s one of their best songs, mainly because I can actually comprehend what he’s singing in this ode to being yourself regardless of what people say you should be.
2. Janis Joplin “Piece of My Heart”
Janis came from a blues background, and though she gained fame as a Rocker her signature song “Piece of My Heart” has more blues spilling out of every note than possibly anything released the whole decade. A strong powerful vocal, a killer hook and a really fun arrangement. She, like Hendrix, transcended genres and labels and this classic is the biggest proof of that.
1. The Doors “Light My Fire”
Easily one of the best songs released of all time. Forget Morrison for a second, Ray Manzarek’s nearly 4 minute keyboard break in the middle is like a musical blessing. Unfortunatley that epic instrumental portion is only found on their debut self titled album (a CLASSIC album!), while the edited version still easily qualifies this song as one of the greatest ever made. It’s a song nearly everybody knows, and one that even now people marvel at.