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27 Club and Robert Johnson’s hellhound

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Peter Breslow wrote the article The NPR 100 'Hellhound On My Trail' (NPR, June 05, 2000 AD) which is mostly about his exploits as a blues fan and musician. The points of interest where about one of the originators of Blue music; Robert Johnson:

“Robert Johnson…only recorded 29 songs in the late 1930s, and he died at the age of 27. But his uncanny styling of traditional tunes and innovative guitar work influenced not only his fellow blues men, but a generation of rock musicians, too. And if there is one song that captures the mystery of this legendary figure, it is ‘Hellhound On My Trail,’ a haunting tale of a man pursued by the devil.”

Here are some lyrics from Hellhound On My Trail:

“I got to keep moving…Blues falling down like hail…And the day keeps on remindin' me, there's a hellhound on my trail…You sprinkled hot foot powder, mmm, around my door…It keeps me with ramblin' mind rider, every old place I go, every old place I go…I can tell the wind is risin', the leaves tremblin' on the tree”

A succinct background on Johnson is provided as follows:

“Robert Johnson's bio is well known to many music lovers…Young musician goes down to the country crossroads at midnight and sells his soul to the devil to learn how to play the guitar like no one else. He records just a handful of songs, and then, August 8th, 1938, just as his fame is starting to spread and he's about to be invited to perform at Carnegie Hall, he's murdered.

Was it black magic or was he poisoned in a roadhouse by the jealous husband of one of his many girlfriends? People said he was crawling on all fours and barking like a dog at the time, and you can hear that torment coming in ‘Hellhound On My Trail,’ recorded June 20th, 1937.”

In any regards, a friend brought up the issue of the “27 Club”—celebrities, how have died at age 27—and I told him that he would likely be hard pressed to list more than about five such people. Well, the fact is that there is a very long list (no individual list seems to be exhaustive).

Why did they die and why at 27? Technically they died of various causes from drug overdoses to car accidents and from choking on vomit to suicide. But the why question deepens to regardless of official cause; why? Well, some claim that it traces back, at least, to Robert Johnson’s deal with the devil and that celebrities sell their souls for temporary fame, etc.

Well, whatever there is to that entire thing—one thing is of interest; why “27”? Well, who knows but 2+7=9 and 9=666 since 6+6+6=18 and 1+8=9.

Here is a partial list of the members of the “27 Club” (listed by first name):

Alan Wilson—Singer of the Canned Heat

Alexander Bashlachev—Musician

Alexandre Levy—Composer, pianist and conductor

Amy Winehouse—Singer

Arlester Christian—Singer and bassist of the Dyke and the Blazers

Brian Jones—Guitarist of the Rolling Stones

Bryan Ottoson—Guitarist of the American Head Charge


Chris Bell—Guitarist of the Big Star

D.D. Boon—Guitarist and singer of the Minutemen

Dave Alexander—Bassist for the Stooges

Dickie Pride—Rock and roll singer

Fat Pat—Rapper with the Screwed Up Click

Freaky Tah—Rapper with the Lost Boyz

Gary Thain—Bassist of Uriah Heep and the Keef Hartley Band

Helmut Kollen—Bassist of the Triumvirat

Jacob Miller—Singer of the Inner Circle

Janis Joplin—Lead vocalist of the Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band

Jean-Michael Basquiat—Formed the band Gray

Jeremy Ward—Sound effects of the Mars Volta and De Facto

Jesse Belvin—R&B musician

Jim Morrison—Singer of the Doors

Jimi Hendrix—Guitarist and singer of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys

Jonathan Gregory Brandis—Actor, director and screenwriter

Kristen Pfaff—Bass guitarist of the Hole and Janitor Joe

Kurt Cobain—Singer and guitarist of the Nirvana

Leslie Harvey—Guitarist of the Stone the Crows

Linda Jones—Soul singer

Louis Chauvin—Ragtime musician

Malcolm Hale—Lead guitarist of Spanky and Our Gang

Maria Serrano—Singer of the Passion Fruit

Mia Zapata—Singer of the Gits

Nat Jaffe—Swing jazz pianist

Pete de Freitas—Drummer for the Echo & the Bunnymen

Pete Ham—Keyboardist and guitarist of the Badfinger

Richard Turner—Trumpet player of the Friendly Fires

Richey Edwards—Guitarist of the Manic Street Preachers

Robert Johnson—Blues musician

Rodrigo Bueno—Cuarteto singer

Roger Durham—Singer and percussionist of the Bloodstone

Ron McKernan—Keyboardist and singer of the Grateful Dead

Rudy Lewis—Vocalist of the Drifters

Rupert Brooke—English poet

Sean McCabe—Singer of the Ink & Dagger

Soroush Farazmand—Guitarist for the Yellow Dogs

Valentin Elizalde—Singer

Wallace Yohn—Keyboardist of the Chase

William Henry Lane “Master Juba”—Dancer and entertainer



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