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The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll

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Excess and tragedy are the stuff of music legend, but it is only with hindsight that deeper patterns emerge. None of these is more striking than the deaths at age 27 of some of the greatest musicians of our time. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Brian Jones. Kurt Cobain. Founding bluesman Robert Johnson. All died at 27. Their stories, as well as those of ill-fated Excess and tragedy are the stuff of music legend, but it is only with hindsight that deeper patterns emerge. None of these is more striking than the deaths at age 27 of some of the greatest musicians of our time. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Brian Jones. Kurt Cobain. Founding bluesman Robert Johnson. All died at 27. Their stories, as well as those of ill-fated members of the Grateful Dead, The Stooges, Badfinger, Big Star, Minutemen, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Mars Volta, are here presented for the first time as a profound and interlocking web that reaches beyond coincidence to the roots of artistic causality and fate. The 27s is the first comprehensive account of the lives and legacies of the thirty-four musicians who make up (to date) rock’s most notorious myth. It is also a capsule history of rock & roll, twisting and turning through decades and genres, unfurling layers of numerology, philosophy, and astrology along the way. The text is complemented by compelling and multifaceted artwork that brings a nonlinear graphic-novel edge to this major contribution to the study of rock culture. The 27s also include crooner Jesse Belvin ("Earth Angel," "Goodnight My Love"), Rudy Lewis of the Drifters, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Malcolm Hale of Spanky And Our Gang, Alan Wilson from Canned Heat, Arlester Christian of Dyke And the Blazers, Jim Morrison, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of the Grateful Dead, Pete Ham of Badfinger, Gary Thain of Uriah Heep and Keef Hartley Band, Roger Lee Durham of Bloodstone, Helmut Köllen of Triumvirat, Chris Bell of Big Star, D. Boon of Minutemen, Pete de Freitas of Echo & the Bunnymen, Mia Zapata of the Gits, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Kristin Pfaff of Hole, Raymond "Freaky Tah" Rogers of Lost Boyz, Sean McCabe of Ink & Dagger, Jeremy Michael Ward of De Facto and The Mars Volta, Bryan Ottoson of American Head Charge, and Valentin Elizalde.


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Excess and tragedy are the stuff of music legend, but it is only with hindsight that deeper patterns emerge. None of these is more striking than the deaths at age 27 of some of the greatest musicians of our time. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Brian Jones. Kurt Cobain. Founding bluesman Robert Johnson. All died at 27. Their stories, as well as those of ill-fated Excess and tragedy are the stuff of music legend, but it is only with hindsight that deeper patterns emerge. None of these is more striking than the deaths at age 27 of some of the greatest musicians of our time. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Brian Jones. Kurt Cobain. Founding bluesman Robert Johnson. All died at 27. Their stories, as well as those of ill-fated members of the Grateful Dead, The Stooges, Badfinger, Big Star, Minutemen, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Mars Volta, are here presented for the first time as a profound and interlocking web that reaches beyond coincidence to the roots of artistic causality and fate. The 27s is the first comprehensive account of the lives and legacies of the thirty-four musicians who make up (to date) rock’s most notorious myth. It is also a capsule history of rock & roll, twisting and turning through decades and genres, unfurling layers of numerology, philosophy, and astrology along the way. The text is complemented by compelling and multifaceted artwork that brings a nonlinear graphic-novel edge to this major contribution to the study of rock culture. The 27s also include crooner Jesse Belvin ("Earth Angel," "Goodnight My Love"), Rudy Lewis of the Drifters, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Malcolm Hale of Spanky And Our Gang, Alan Wilson from Canned Heat, Arlester Christian of Dyke And the Blazers, Jim Morrison, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of the Grateful Dead, Pete Ham of Badfinger, Gary Thain of Uriah Heep and Keef Hartley Band, Roger Lee Durham of Bloodstone, Helmut Köllen of Triumvirat, Chris Bell of Big Star, D. Boon of Minutemen, Pete de Freitas of Echo & the Bunnymen, Mia Zapata of the Gits, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Kristin Pfaff of Hole, Raymond "Freaky Tah" Rogers of Lost Boyz, Sean McCabe of Ink & Dagger, Jeremy Michael Ward of De Facto and The Mars Volta, Bryan Ottoson of American Head Charge, and Valentin Elizalde.

30 review for The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll

  1. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Cook

    Rock and roll can grab you in its teeth, gnash your heart to bits, open your mind so wide you can't keep cultural debris out, change your way of thinking and dressing, make you reconsider the flowers mother says are poisonous. The great voices and minds of rock and roll wield a cultural power that is shamanic at its highest resonances. But to walk with these spirits, is to dance with death, to become an icon of your generation sometimes means staying there forever, being remembered in a bathtub Rock and roll can grab you in its teeth, gnash your heart to bits, open your mind so wide you can't keep cultural debris out, change your way of thinking and dressing, make you reconsider the flowers mother says are poisonous. The great voices and minds of rock and roll wield a cultural power that is shamanic at its highest resonances. But to walk with these spirits, is to dance with death, to become an icon of your generation sometimes means staying there forever, being remembered in a bathtub in Paris or a plaid 90s sepulcher with syringes strewn about. Eric Segalstad' s the 27s unabashedly, unashamedly and unrepentantly tells the story of these tragedies with sparkling language and beautiful illustrations. He uses insights into astrology and numerology to look into the roots and consequences of one of rock's black magic numbers. This is a book like no other. While there are any number of books about Jim, Jimi, Janis and Curt, there are few that place them in the company of the other casualties of their age, others who did not get to step through the gates into adulthood. I found myself really thinking about my upcoming 27th birthday, about the trials artists go through and about the sort of person who would sing lyrics like "I wish I was like you, easily amused..." and "hey, wait, I got a new complaint". This book shines, cuts and illuminates, all without saying that Jim Morrison was a six foot penis that penetrated the world til it went soft or turning into transparent DARE propaganda. That's a true accomplishment. This book covers everyone from Robert Johnson, to Canned Heat's Alan Wilson to Jeremy Ward of the Mars Volta. A must for any rock fan's shelf. The upcoming hardcover will be a must for their coffee table too.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt Hill

    highlight=the artwork and layout . . not what i expected, but cool for a full-color, coffee-table style book . . lowlight=that there's a kind-of chronological layout to how the musicians are talked about, but it's hard to follow and not exact . . it's not like there are chapters on each person . . you just kind of have to pick it up and skim around until you find where they talk about hendrix or whoever . . i guess it's not the book's fault . . i was just wanting a more basic nonfiction take on highlight=the artwork and layout . . not what i expected, but cool for a full-color, coffee-table style book . . lowlight=that there's a kind-of chronological layout to how the musicians are talked about, but it's hard to follow and not exact . . it's not like there are chapters on each person . . you just kind of have to pick it up and skim around until you find where they talk about hendrix or whoever . . i guess it's not the book's fault . . i was just wanting a more basic nonfiction take on these people and how they're connected . . that's *not* this book - -

  3. 4 out of 5

    lisa

    This was a really interesting look at the history of rock, but the formatting/editing made it hard for someone who doesn't know a whole lot about music to keep track of everyone. I did come away with a lot of information though, and I have a long list of bands and books I should check out now. The writing was very accessible and the authors did a pretty good job of staying on task in what could have been a very, very messy book. This was a really interesting look at the history of rock, but the formatting/editing made it hard for someone who doesn't know a whole lot about music to keep track of everyone. I did come away with a lot of information though, and I have a long list of bands and books I should check out now. The writing was very accessible and the authors did a pretty good job of staying on task in what could have been a very, very messy book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dani Peloquin

    From the first time I heard about this book on a podcast, I felt mixed feeling. I immediately requested it from the library, but when it came in I was hesitant to pick it up. I thought that it would be dry and uninteresting, like many books written about rock and roll. (It never fails to astound me that though rock and roll has the most interesting and exciting history, writers always seem to make it dry and boring as if they are writing about the history of lint.) Eventually, I bit the bullet a From the first time I heard about this book on a podcast, I felt mixed feeling. I immediately requested it from the library, but when it came in I was hesitant to pick it up. I thought that it would be dry and uninteresting, like many books written about rock and roll. (It never fails to astound me that though rock and roll has the most interesting and exciting history, writers always seem to make it dry and boring as if they are writing about the history of lint.) Eventually, I bit the bullet and picked it up and from just from the cover I knew that it would be a wild ride! The book is about the rock and roll myth/legend that all influential and groundbreaking rock musicians die at the age of 27. Such casualties include Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain (just to name a few). The book gives a brief biography of each of these famous, and at times infamous, singers while showing their impact on history and culture. The authors also try to integrate the myth, its history, and culture into the story of each artist.However, the most impressive aspect of this book is the artwork. Every page has a different theme and design; each of which is beautiful. At times, it even distracts the reader from the narrative. Still, it ensures that the entire book feels like rock and roll with flashy colors, shocking collages, and thought provoking cartoons. Such a book is a huge undertaking, which is why I was not surprised when it fell short. Though the beginning was exceptional, the biographies of each person eventually melded together and became confusing. I thought that each chapter would focus on the biography of a different musician. Instead, each singer is introduced only to be dropped within a few pages and picked up again in the next couple of pages. The authors also jump around in time which is quite confusing for someone who is not completely familiar with the lives of each musician. I enjoyed how the narrative wove the myth into each person’s story but found that it led to some tangential issues that did not need to be addressed in the book such as the history of Dionysus. There are supplemental stories and tid bits in the margins, most of which help the reader understand what is being stated in the overall narrative. However, some of the marginal stories are misleading and just distract the reader from the larger story. As previously stated, the drawings and designs on each page are gorgeous and make the reader feel as if he/she is immersed in the rock and roll culture. The beauty of these pages also has negative side effects because it distracts the reader. Personally, I found myself turning the pages not because of the narrative but to see the next drawings. Overall, I think that the premise of this book is exceptionally fascinating but this particular book is a bit too confusing and distracting to be as effective as I had hoped. www.iamliteraryaddicted.blogspot.com

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kate Potapenko

    Great book! It's all made into one long story that carries on. Also involves loads of googling and watching YouTube as you go... discovered some cool bands that I haven't heard of before. Great artwork and cool little facts and dates here and there. I would say only downside is that sometimes it jumps from one person to another that quick that it's hard to follow. Great book! It's all made into one long story that carries on. Also involves loads of googling and watching YouTube as you go... discovered some cool bands that I haven't heard of before. Great artwork and cool little facts and dates here and there. I would say only downside is that sometimes it jumps from one person to another that quick that it's hard to follow.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike Dirksen

    Ever since I heard about this book on the Coast radio program I have wanted to read it, and own it, and now I have done both. I had high expectations for this book, and it was even better than I thought it would be. It is all in here, starting with the death, at 27, of famed blues man, Robert Johnson, but there are at least half a dozen deaths, at 27, that really stand out, and they are all well covered here. Of course, everyone knows about the over dose deaths of both Janis Joplin and Jimi Hen Ever since I heard about this book on the Coast radio program I have wanted to read it, and own it, and now I have done both. I had high expectations for this book, and it was even better than I thought it would be. It is all in here, starting with the death, at 27, of famed blues man, Robert Johnson, but there are at least half a dozen deaths, at 27, that really stand out, and they are all well covered here. Of course, everyone knows about the over dose deaths of both Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, but the highlights of their lives,careers, conflicts, are also extensively documented here. The famous mysterious death of Jim Morrison ( some say he lives still), is also discussed at length here, and the tragic death of Mia Zapata, and not one, but two of the band members of the up and coming band Badfinger is especially interesting. You are introduced to alot of bands you might not have heard of before, and you just wish you had been a fan of thiers when they were still around, too.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This is an enchanting book (graphic non-fiction style) that weaves through the true stories of a number of musicians who coincidentally died at age 27. It is loaded with interesting and often fairly intense information about these people and I found it hard put down. The book is interspersed with striking artwork and images of the musicians that seemingly flows with the stories, and is beautiful to look at. A nice touch is a running timeline with related and unrelated events happening in the wor This is an enchanting book (graphic non-fiction style) that weaves through the true stories of a number of musicians who coincidentally died at age 27. It is loaded with interesting and often fairly intense information about these people and I found it hard put down. The book is interspersed with striking artwork and images of the musicians that seemingly flows with the stories, and is beautiful to look at. A nice touch is a running timeline with related and unrelated events happening in the world, and also sidebar notes that add some insight. I really enjoyed it and will probably re-read it soon.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Here's an interview on NPR about The 27s: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st... "As much as this book is about The 27s, it is about music; about America; about the art and perils of the music industry; about the mystique behind death at age 27; and finally about history itself. The 27s is a must read for anyone interested in knowing more about the greatest musicians of modern times. It's presented like a resonance of sound in the clearest grain of a violin. Well done!" - Ian Halperin, NY Times Here's an interview on NPR about The 27s: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st... "As much as this book is about The 27s, it is about music; about America; about the art and perils of the music industry; about the mystique behind death at age 27; and finally about history itself. The 27s is a must read for anyone interested in knowing more about the greatest musicians of modern times. It's presented like a resonance of sound in the clearest grain of a violin. Well done!" - Ian Halperin, NY Times bestselling author/filmmaker, Director of The film The Cobain Case, Author of Who Killed Kurt Cobain and Love and Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sirena

    I have read other books on this subject and this is not one I would recommend. The layout and artwork were distracting and if this was the reader's first book on this subject, they may get lost quickly. It's not precise and to the point and often veered off into another subject for no apparent reason. (Saturn return? WTH??) Also trying to connect all the members wasn't necessary. Rock & roll is a small community. Everybody's path will cross at some point. And we're all 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon a I have read other books on this subject and this is not one I would recommend. The layout and artwork were distracting and if this was the reader's first book on this subject, they may get lost quickly. It's not precise and to the point and often veered off into another subject for no apparent reason. (Saturn return? WTH??) Also trying to connect all the members wasn't necessary. Rock & roll is a small community. Everybody's path will cross at some point. And we're all 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon anyway.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    It’s terribly sad that these people died so young but they have made such a lasting impression in music. I feel like the people in the book are simply just normal individuals who have left lasting and extraordinary contributions in the world. I actually wrote a little bit about the book here: http://nabcommunities.com/2011/08/04/... It’s terribly sad that these people died so young but they have made such a lasting impression in music. I feel like the people in the book are simply just normal individuals who have left lasting and extraordinary contributions in the world. I actually wrote a little bit about the book here: http://nabcommunities.com/2011/08/04/...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Saira

    with Amy Winehouse joining the 27 club this weekend, I am yet again drawn to theories on how age 27 (and phases of 9 years, as some say) is like the 7 year itch of growing older... making it past this stage is the hardest part of longevity, not just for angsty rock and roll icons.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Terrific!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Meandering, enjoyable read. More a history of rock 'n' roll and art book than a blow-by-blow index of the 27s. Meandering, enjoyable read. More a history of rock 'n' roll and art book than a blow-by-blow index of the 27s.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Angel

    lkhkn

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  16. 5 out of 5

    Terry

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy Gibson

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shana

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marie Jobling

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sónia

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

  24. 4 out of 5

    Azween Mohamed

  25. 4 out of 5

    Monte

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ana

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Paul

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Chapius

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rathon

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