Have you heard of the 27 Club?
It has very strict entry requirements.
You have to be a pop star, and then you have to die at the age of 27.
I didn't say it was a FUN club.
Indeed, there's only one benefit to joining - your name will live on forever.
Not that you'll really care, because you'll be dead.
Members include Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain and finally Amy Winehouse.
They all loved drugs and/or booze too much, and it killed them.
If you're interested in seeing the process of vibrant young musical talents stumbling into an early grave, you're in luck.
There are two brilliant biopics out there now that give us a pretty clear picture of how the whole sorry scenario plays out.
The acclaimed Amy opens here on Aug 27 while Cobain: Montage Of Heck is available on mio TV's Video On Demand service.
Having just seen both films in quick succession, what struck me is how remarkably similar their stories were.
Both Winehouse and Cobain came from broken homes and could never seem to recover from it.
The English singer craved affection from her estranged father and never got it until she got famous.
The frontman of US grunge rock outfit Nirvana craved affection from his neglectful mother and never got it until he got famous.
Both wound up with terrible, horrible, no good, very bad spouses.
Winehouse married one Blake Fielder-Civil: gold digger, halfwit, drug fiend.
Cobain married US rocker Courtney Love: opportunist, maniac, drug fiend.
Both were painfully insecure.
Both took way too many drugs.
Both had a toxic reaction to fame.
Both created powerful but very dark music.
The lesson I took away from Amy and Cobain is that the celebrities are not lying when they tell us that success doesn't make you happy.
In spite of all their money and fame, these are two of the most miserable human beings I've ever seen.
These artists also put more of themselves into their art than one might think.
In Amy, we see Winehouse living through some terrible ordeal, then singing about it in a very literal fashion, till it's flat-out autobiographical.
Cobain's lyrics, though more abstract, also came from a very personal place.
The twisted surrealism of Nirvana's music oozed from a deep black hole in Cobain's tortured brain.
I don't think that any reasonable person, given the option, would ever choose to trade places with either star.
I guess that's the point - you really have to be crazy to do what they do.
Talent and ambition come bundled with various mental disorders.
As much as I admire my favourite musicians for their musicianship, I think I admire them even more for their bravery.
Every song, every album, every performance, they push forward into the void, knowing full well the peril.
They put their psyches on the line for our amusement, and occasionally for our edification.
They're true warriors.
It's sad, but still kind of majestic when they fall.
This article was first published on August 12, 2015.
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