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Guest blog: Myth and Infamy

Tomorrow I will be 28.

This is nothing monumental in itself, but carries one thought of significance; by the time I wake up tomorrow, I will never again be able to join the infamous ’27 club’ – my time will have passed.

For the uninitiated, the ’27 Club’ is a select group who all died before their 28th birthday.  Traditionally there are 5 founding members:

Brian Jones

Janis Joplin

Jim Morrison

Jimi Hendrix

Kurt Cobain

Yung Hott is the latest member, shot whilst filming the video for his first single in Griffin, Georgia.  I’m not one to be pernickety about these things, but wonder what makes this youngster stand out amongst the list of greats.  Memebers of the 27 Club are usually musicians (hence the omission of Jean Michel Basquiat) and had previously made a significant contribution to the industry they found themselves in, often changing the face of music itself.

Of the five, only one was a confirmed suicide, the rest were all drug or alcohol related (Joplin and possibly Morrison are attributed to trying drugs in new cities leading to accidental overdoses due to differing dosage strengths).  There is one half-member.  Richey Edwards who is assumed dead although a body was never found.  It was assumed by the press that Peter Doherty would join, but he made it to 28.

The interesting thing for me is the reasons I might have for wanting to be part of this infamy.  I am no great musician, and as yet am to make a significant contribution to cultural life, and as such doubt that I would be granted the status.  I would also like to state that I have no desire whatsoever to die – this is pure romance.  The issue is that I could never join these greats.

My desire is driven mostly by that fact, that I never could join them.  It’s not a serious desire, much like my dream of scoring the winning goal for Wycombe Wanderers in an FA Cup final, It would be incredible, but I know it’s not possible.  Unlike an FA Cup  final win, joining the 27 Club would leave no time to stick around and enjoy the celebrations.  It’s actually a morbid thought that for some reason becomes celebrated through the myths that surround these individuals.  Rockstars become more than people very easily.

I recently wrote about a performance by Harminder Singh Judge at the New art Exchange – ‘The Modes of Al-Ikseer’.  He mixed 80’s synth pop and Hindu myth in a way that spoke eloquently of the idol on a stage.  I have had a fixation with infamy and romantic heroes for the past year or so, I wonder if it is the myth that surrounds these people that is most interesting, rather than their achievements.

Bas Jan Ader sailed off single handedly from the USA with the intention of reaching Ireland.  He never made it.  It was incredibly doubtful that he ever would.  His contribution to the way the body is perceived in art was far more significant than that last act, yet this suicidal work is the event that is most discussed.  His demise (and the debate as to whether he genuinely thought he might make it, or whether he knew this would be his last work in glorious suicide, or even that he might have planned an escape and be secretly living somewhere even now) has become his most debated work.

I wonder what would seem most interesting if lists of achievements were placed with lists of notoriety.

27 Club – the27club.net

Modes of Al-Ikseer review –nottinghamvisualarts.net/

Bas Jan Ader – basjanader.com