November 13th-15th saw the Louder Than Words Festival take place at the prestige of Manchester’s Palace Hotel. The annual music conference saw an array of speakers and content on the music business to writing and performing, as a weekend of artistic appreciation and celebration. Emily Schofield reports…
Closing Friday evenings interesting musical talks, Chris Salewicz explores his book Dead Gods: The 27 Club – an analysis of the deaths of seven 27 year-old musical maestros.
In conversation with Chris Madden, Salewicz gifted the Louder Than Words crowd to a short reading from his book on the inspirational and controversial lives of those lives cut short. Exploring myth, scandal, sex dugs and fantastic music, Salewicz notes those ’27 Club’ artists that have left the world changed, with stories behind compelling figures, from Robert Johnson to Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.
Salewicz has documented popular culture for more than three decades. As Senior Features Editor for the NME in the 70s, the writer has further worked for The Sunday Times to Q and Mojo, having published over seventeen books.
The author tells of how with each individual case in the book, “They are all damaged in different ways – there’s a point with all of them where it all seems to go wrong.”
Discussing the history of the Cobain family’s mental health, Salewicz explains how Kurt Cobain once joked of having ‘suicide genes’. The writer tells of how Kurt Cobain’s mother ‘told him not to join that stupid club [The 27 Club]’. Salewicz speaks of Kurt’s self-description as a ‘professional loser’ and how people began to identify with his ‘struggle to be himself’ conveyed in the press.
An audience member questions Salewicz on the death of Amy Winehouse; Was her cause of death media driven? Opening the debate for the press’ influence on the eventual suicides of those in the ‘27 Club’.
“I’m sure at a certain point she enjoyed being a rock and roll out-law…” says Salewicz, “But the media attention was pretty unprecedented – I’m sure this really certainly can’t have helped.”
Salewicz divulges how he felt the need to write Dead Gods: The 27 Club after witnessing Don Letts emotionally falling to his knees at the Royal Festival Hall, in receiving the news of Amy Winehouse’s death.
With the ’27 Club’ still affecting the contemporary world, Chris Salewicz writings could prove to be an interesting and emotive read.
Dead Gods: The 27 Club is available now
Words by Emily Schofield