What famous musicians died prematurely

Do famous musicians die more often than other people at the age of 27?

I think the biggest thing going on here is the affirmative bias as opposed to any other phenomenon. There are thousands upon thousands of musicians, and the "27 Club" has only 45 members (as defined in Wikipedia and dating back to 1908). I think this particular phenomenon also has some features of the birthday paradox in that people are always a certain age when they die. Of course, some will be the same age. (This is a weak analogy, I am thinking of a better one and am open to suggestions.)

I think what really drives people to the confirmatory bias involved is that 27 is a pretty young age that anyone can die at. If musicians are very famous at this age, they stand out even more.

As for other people who die at age 27, I think you can list many other groups that are much more likely to die. For example, in the commercial sector, being a fisherman is the deadliest professionally.

It actually became the deadliest workplace in the country in 2006, with a death rate of 141.7, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Fishermen did not have the highest number of deaths (51 reported deaths in 2006), but the highest rate due to the relatively low employment rate.

In terms of total numbers, drivers / salespeople suffered by far the highest number of workplace deaths, with 940 in 2006. The vast majority of these deaths occurred among heavy truck drivers. Due to the large number of drivers, the death rate (27.2) was lower than that of fishermen.

Although soldiers are not mentioned. And of course those are fatalities from accidents. Suicides, overdoses and the like attributed to the "27 Club" are tracked through various methods (such as the CDC). At a cursory glance at this data, it doesn't seem like musicians have anything else entirely.

As Jader mentioned in the comments, the average death rate for people in the 25-34 age group is around 1.7%. Now check out the "27 Club" listed on Wikipedia. That's 45 in over 100 years! According to the employment office, there is 2008 in the US currently 186,000 PROFESSIONAL musicians with a 10-year delta growth of just over 14,000. If anything, the 27 club appears on the wiki page UNDER to be represented when he can only find 45 in 100 years!

Also note that the link http://www.the-eggman.com/writings/death_stats.html shows deaths in the 25-34 age group from accidents at a higher rate of 12%! I think it could be argued that most of these deaths also involved some degree of "accident" like overdose, suicide, etc. I refer you to Sklivvz's answer.

Thomas O.

+1 for confirmation errors. Maybe someone should start "The Club Not 27" for musicians who don't die at 27 ...


Agree about confirmatory bias (and the common sense argument that the deaths of 27 year old artists will pay more attention to them). Indeed : Birthday Paradox is a statistic with no relation whatsoever to the subject at hand ... And I'm not sure if statistics on the total population (or any subset other than rock stars) are relevant to the question.

Larian LeQuella

@ Dave, fair comment. I just used the birthday paradox as an example of statistics (that is, when you die, you are of an age. With a large enough group, many are the same age). Not that it's the same math formula since birth dates are limited to 365 (unless they're born on leap day), but people's age after death has some features that are likely to be found out (not that I'll do this math though).


@Larian: I understand you only drew an analogy, but it's still thin as the birthday paradox essentially relies on the power of combination (the fact that you are looking at any pair of dates) while the current one Fall years first, then consider events. In the birthday analogy, it would be like noting that a significant number of people out of a group are born on April 12th (or October 23rd, etc.).

Larian LeQuella

@ Dave, any suggestions for a better analogy? I drew a blank, so to speak, so this is the one I went with.