THE CLUB OF 27
Welcome here to an astro-biographical study of the immortal 'Club of 27' musicians. Their lives illuminated the 'Swinging Sixties.' This material, given at a meeting of the Astrological Lodge of London on 17th January 2005, looked at the charts of Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison with the assistance of Alex Trenoweth, Andrew Morton, John Etherington, Laura Boomer and Neil Spencer, compered by Nick Kollerstrom.
At the original presentation, an unusually packed room displayed a sense of delight if not euphoria at the astral dimension revealed of the 1960s phenomenon, 'Children of Dionysus.' It was a hugely popular presentation that has spawned further interest into the astrological musings of the musical realm.
Then later, in June of that year, Wikipedia put up its first 'stub' of what would become its 'Club of 27' section, citing the same five names we had identified in our original presentation (Hendrix, Joplin, Jones, Morrison and Cobain). We, as the original 'Club of 27', have made an interesting astrological contribution to the cultural revolution known by non-astrologers as 'the swinging 60s'. Wiki quoted a Hendrix biographer Charles Cross as saying:
'The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27.'
The Wiki 'Club of 27' post has managed to maintain a firm distinction between the many other musicians who have died at 27 - and 'the Club.' From our point of view, all five of our group had decent birth data (though Brian Jones' is a bit conjectural) whereas most of the other rockers who passed away at that age just didn't have it.
Its strange how these five names are part of our collective culture - most people can name them!
These five are not just rock stars, they are Orphic, they are Children of Dionysus, who were able to take us out of our world of sorrow. A recent book The 27s - The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll expresses their timeless, archetypal being.
In this website we look at their astral biographies and see what cosmically speaking they had in common - which was quite a lot!
In 2009, the whole website of the Astrological Lodge of London was taken down, on which this 'Clubof27' theme had been developed. Their new site did not want this material so we’ve here put it up separately. But it still remains on the Wayback Machine (Google's 'memory').
These modern icons all died while at the same phase of their Uranus and Neptune cycles, their lives apparently measured out by thirty degrees of Neptune. Consider Nick's letter to The Mountain Astrologer in September 2004
Letter to Mountain Astrologer, Sept 2004
Children of Dionysus
Concerning the mysterious 'Club of 27', viz. the brilliant musicians whose lives have burnt out, like meteors in the sky, by the time of their Uranus-trine return: Neptune has twice the orbit period of Uranus and thus makes its sextile return (one sixth of its orbit) near to the time when Uranus makes its trine return - about the age of 27 (for example, one would reach the Neptune opposition at 84 years, as Uranus makes its full-cycle return). Listed here are five rock stars who died at that youthful age together with the orbs of these two return aspects: i.e., the degrees by which Uranus exceeded or fell short of making the trine - and likewise Neptune, its sextile - between their positions at each musician's birth and death.
Kurt Cobain Ur +3° Ne -1° (Feb. 20, 1967 - April 5, 1994)
Jimi Hendrix UR +6° NE -3° (Nov 27, 1942 - Sept. 18, 1970)
Brian Jones UR + 4° NE - 3° (Feb 28, 1942 - July 3, 1969)
Janis Joplin UR +8° NE -3° (Jan. 19, 1943 - Oct. 4, 1970)
Jim Morrison UR +3° NE -3° (Dec 8, 1943 - July 3, 1970)
We are startled to realise that these heroes all left the scene four or five degrees beyond their Uranus trine return - in each case, shortly after it had chimed - while each, without exception, died just before their Neptune sextile return - around three degrees before it had happened. This suggests that some interaction was taking place between the Neptune sextile returns and the Uranus trines - the latter having arrived slightly earlier, measuring out the destiny of these rock icons.
Their youthful lives did not get as far as their first Saturn return. Thus, the primary defining feature of the 'club of 27', in terms of lifespan, has been a Uranus-Neptune interaction - with the latter planet conferring the more exact period.
Nick Kollerstrom - London, England (Neptune rising)
Our five bio-pics by these highly talented young British astrologers:
Alex Trenoweth - Janis Joplin
Pete Watson - Jim Morrison
John Etherington - Brian Jones
Adam Smith - Jimi Hendrix
Neil Spencer - Kurt Cobain
Revolution, Flower-Power and the Children of Dionysus
By Alex Trenoweth
It is tempting and perhaps far too easy to point out that all the members of the Club of 27 lived hard and died young. Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Kurt Cobain so readily gave themselves to the hedonism, recklessness and controversy of their lives that even astrologically it is difficult to see beyond their tragic deaths, neatly marked out by a Uranus trine and Neptune sextile.
However, the members of the 'Club of 27' featured on this website all had prominent Uranus connections. Hendrix, left handed and inventive from an early age, was playing the guitar with his teeth and behind his head before he could train himself to play the guitar with his right hand. Jones, born into relative privilege, did not battle his way out of poverty but out of the limitations imposed by his class. Joplin, as the only woman of the Club of 27, could never see herself as worthy of being loved--and so she set out to break down not only the gender barriers of the music industry but the racial ones as well. A lover of reptiles to his family and friends long before he became known as the Lizard King to his fans, Morrison, the troublesome practical joker with an exceptionally high IQ had the rebellious and macho Mars-Uranus conjunction. Cobain, brought up in a society where perfect looks sell mediocre music, was the greasy-haired founding member of the 'Grunge' music and lifestyle, was born during the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of the mid 1960's. It is perhaps unsurprising that these Club of 27 members frowned on the "squares" of their generation: all have a conspicious lack of the square aspect in their charts.
Additionally, Jones, Joplin and Hendrix were born with the Saturn/Uranus conjunction in their charts. Perhaps in an archetypal sense, this conjunction was epitomised by the unleashing of nuclear power in December 1962, in Chicago, when the firm structure of things (Saturn) was broken up in a totally new way (Uranus). Hendrix was born within days of that event, and Joplin only a month after. It was the same conjunction, echoing in their natal charts that would contribute to the cultural explosion that was the 60's.
In astrology, the planet Uranus is associated with sudden and shocking revolution. Uranus is known particularly for its ability to use eccentricity and innovation to bring about change. The Uranus of the United States stands at 8 Gemini (US Chart). At it's first return in 1861, Civil war had broken out, and at it's second return, US soldiers were fighting in WWII on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. Thus, the birth of Janis, Jimi, Jim and Brian coincided with the start of the third Uranus-cycle of the United States.
From mid 1942-1946 a 'magic triangle' of outer planets formed in the sky. This triangle consisted of Uranus-trine-Neptune, both pointing in sextile to Pluto.The Neptune of this generation was also right on the MC of the United States (3° Libra), so the "children of the revolution" held their ideals of a Utopian society. They fantasised about their country having peaceful and gentle relations with the rest of the world. They would grow to be unafraid to experiment with music and drugs. With the Uranus/Neptune trine pointing in sextile to Pluto, this generation seemed focused on complete reformation. This transformation would seem to be part of the American karmic fate as Pluto is on the North Node of the US chart. It wasn't until this generation grew up and began expressing themselves as adults that the effects of this configuration could be seen. Quite simply, by the time Janis, Jim, Jimi and Brian were born, the United States was ripe for a shake-up.
Thus, already predisposed to experiment, this generation would find fame during the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of 1966. 1967 was the year of the revolutionary Monterey Music Festival, the blossoming of the unforgettable Flower-Power revolution. During this time this vital conjunction of Uranus/Pluto moved across the Neptune of the US chart at 22° Virgo, showing the glorious dreams of which America is capable - but also, it wrought confusion and chaos on a society battling for equality, rebelling against authority and traumatised by a foreign war. The meeting of Uranus, the planet of androgeny and Pluto with its power-of-the-depths, coincided with the sexual revolution and the advent of the feminist movement. It seemed this generation became feminised, as a lot of young people, young men in particular, wore beads and flowers in their hair. The lifestyles of music, drug use, hedonism, psychedelic fashion and promiscuity characterise this Pluto/Uranus era, a time affectionately known as "The Swinging Sixties." When we look back on this era it is with a quiver of excitement and nostalgia. We can almost once again conjure up the wonderful feeling of rebellion, lack of inhibition and experimentation. It was also a time a great terror and turmoil: bodies of America's young men were rotting in fields with unpronounceable names, as the Vietnam war raged. On home soil, an ongoing battle for racial equality was happening - a battle that never should have been necessary in the first place. No one knew better about the discrimination Black America faced than Jimi Hendrix, the only Black member of the Club of 27. Returning to America from a successful British tour in 1967, Hendrix found himself in a New York hotel - and was promptly mistaken for a bellhop.
Through a smoky haze, this generation used music to express their dreams of peace and harmony as the Vietnam War raged and used drugs to escape the grim reality of a futile conflict. The finest anti-war songs came from this period. The Flower-Power generation expressed its anger through music and thereby de-legitimised the war. Its new visions were moulded while experimenting with drugs and meditation. The expression "If you can remember the '60's you weren't there," seems an apt tribute to this time. And who better to carry and inherit the torch of the sixties turmoil than the sensitive, emotionally water-logged Piscean Kurt Cobain who had the conjunction of Pluto/Uranus straddling his ascendant?
The Lovely Trines
Janis Joplin - Grand Trine in Air
- There was a beautiful 'kite' formation in Joplin's chart, woven out of trines and sextiles - and pointing at Pluto.
chart of Janis Joplin
Chart of Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix' chart - trines & sextiles
Hendrix had every planet except Mars harmonically linked by trines and sextiles. In the form of his chart we see the essence of funky rhythm. The pattern of his chart is lined up with the mighty star-axis of Antares-Aldebaran (at 9 degrees of Gemini & Sagittarius) - his 'Axis Bold as Love'.
Kurt Cobain - Grand Trine in Water
Cobain's chart had every one of his planets linked by trine or sextile aspects. It actually had twogrand trines in it, both in the water-signs. Nine planets in Water! His kite formation, like that of Janis Joplin, was pointing at Pluto.
Trines and sextiles are the two aspects which are most associated with harmony and concorde. It is these harmonies in their charts which impelled the 'Children of Dionysus' into song! Let's count them up ...
How many of the 'trine' and 'sextile' aspects are present in the birthcharts of the 'Club of 27'? A trine is one-third of a circle, and a sextile is one-sixth. We take a five-degree 'orb' for this - i.e., include any angles that are within five degrees before or after the exact positions of these aspects. We count all trines and sextiles between planets in five Club of 27 'natal charts,' i.e. when they were born:
|Average per chart:||5.1||3.8|
|Expect:||2.3||2.3 per chart|
There are 93% more trines and sextiles in these five charts, than expected by chance - i.e., almost twice as many. The Children of Dionysus had a massive excess of the blissful, harmonious trines and sextiles. These are the aspects of Harmony.
One expects about 2.3 trines and 2.3 sextiles per chart, on a chance basis. These five charts are just loaded with the harmonious celestial aspects - that helped them find the melody. Next, we count the squares - these come from dividing a circle into 4, i.e. 90° aspects, and they are angles between planets in the sky. We take the same 5° orb.
The most significant factor in this Dionysian 'Club of 27' is - no squares in their natal charts! Squares bring the tough, hard, limitations of life, and a firm structure. Being 'square' was a derogatory term in the Swinging Sixties. Between them they only had 2 squares, when by chance you would expect about 12 - that's proof of astrology!
An Example of Working Astrology
Any sceptics out there? Here is concrete proof of astrology working. It doesn't get more concrete than this. We didn't choose the group, that is a shared cultural perception. In their natal charts we find a massive excess of the 'aspects of harmony' - trines and sextiles - and a near-total absence of the tough, limiting square aspects. Just what any astrologer would expect. Plus, they all passed away with immaculate heavenly timing, just after their Uranus-trines and just before their Neptune-sextile. And they sang for seven years. It doesn't get better than this.
Uranus-Square: the Music Begins
By the age of 20 - 21 Uranus has moved around one-quarter of its 84-year orbit during one's life. It thus reaches the 'square' -return, which often signifies a time of 'youthful rebellion.' The Rolling Stones drew together around Brian Jones in the spring of 1962 just as Uranus came to square its natal position in his chart. Likewise, the group 'Nirvana' formed in December 1987 as Cobain's Uranus-square return chimed when he was 20 years old. Both of these then spent seven years working with their band, as Uranus revolved one-twelfth of its orbit, from square to trine. During Hendrix' Uranus-square from late '62 up to the summer of '63, he came out of the army and began working professionally as a musician. From then to his death marked a seven-year period (from a natal square to Uranus, to a natal Uranus-trine).
The trine and sextile aspects also measured out their lives. Neptune moved through the signs of Libra and Scorpio through the one-sixth angle during four of these musicians' lives (Cobain was a generation later) while Uranus moved one-third of its orbit (One of these outer planets moves at half the speed of the other). None of these musicians reached their Saturn-return (29 years) which is associated with reaching adult life and establishing one's direction in life: they remain forever as the 'puer aeternitas' in our memory, burning with the sweet fires of youth, and we are grateful to them for not having grown old.
Their brief lives flashed by so quickly: Janis sang,
I've gotta go out shopping for my life
I've gotta find my, my own true third eye,
Hare Krishna identity out there on the road there.
('Cry, baby') but, did she have time to find it? As Jimi wrote in his final Poem, 'The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye." They totally fulfilled their brief lives. Their music broke through the transience of popular culture. Their memory does not fade away.
Our talented team have their own websites:
The Cosmic Background
Big celestial events were taking place then, in the era of 'flower power':
The Jupiter-Uranus opposition of 1962 'coincided with the first recordings of Bob Dylan and the Beatles and the formation of the Rolling Stones, the three dominant creative forces in the musical culture of the sixties. ... The following triple conjunction of Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto in 1968 - 69 coincided with what was in certain respects the climax of the classical era of rock, a twenty-four month period that brought a virtual Niagara Falls of creativity and many of the most celebrated works of this genre: all three of the Beatles' final albums ... Hendrix's Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland and the titanic Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock ... Reflective of this creative outburst in the counterculture, sixteen mass music festivals, including Woodstock with its many musical triumphs, took place from the summer of 1968 through the summer of 1969, the average attendance at which was over one hundred thousand. No moment in the history of popular music is comparable to this period of the triple Jupiter-Uranus-Pluto conjunction, the only one of the twentieth century.
Rick Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, 2006 NY, pp 167 &. 328-9: Cosmos & Psyche (Tarnas lectures in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco
Eras of Uranus-Pluto alignments signified, in Tarnas' view, the:
'intensifying and empowering on a massive scale the Promethius archetype of rebellion and freedom, creativity, innovation, and sudden radical change, associated with the planet Uranus'
He linked this conjunction with 'the electrically powerful performances of the young Hendrix as he arrived in London during the conjunction of the 1960s' - comparing it with the previous Uranus-Pluto opposition of the 1790s:
'the extraordinary epoch of empowered creativity in the preceding Uranus-Pluto opposition of the 1970s and French revolution, visible above all in the great romantic emergence in literature and the arts, philosophy and science of the time: Blake, Wordworth and Coleridge, Goethe and Schiller ... etc'
So the two 'big' events that marked the 'swinging sixties' were the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1965-6 (within one degree alignment), which happens once per century or so, and the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction of 1969, which happen every twenty years. These frame our story, with the latter aspect marking the Apollo moon landing as well as the Woodstock music festival. Let's have one more Tarnas quote, concerning the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1966: 'One recalls the era's prevailing sprit of passionate energy and wild abandon. The unmistakeable cultural ambience which pervaded the sixties.'
When the Club of 27 were born
Brian Jones 28 Feb 1942 20 hrs GMT (est), Cheltenham UK
Jimi Hendrix 27 Nov 1942, 10.15 PWT Seattle
Janis Joplin 9 Jan 1943, 9.45 am Port Arthur Texas
Jim Morisson 8 Dec 1943, 11.55 +4h, Melbourne, Florida
Kurt Cobain 20 Feb 1967 7.20 pm, PST +8h, Aberdeen WA.