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The 27 Club

Story location: Home / links /
25/Jul/2011

Since Amy Winehouse died and joined the infamous '27 Club', I was wondering if there was any significance in the number of whether it was simply a statistical fluke. I found this website which plots the age at death of hundreds of celebrities who died of drug or alcohol related causes. The site finds that the median age is 38. When narrowed down to musicians, the most likely age to die is actually 27.

After discussing the phenomenon with colleagues I decided to run an analysis myself to see what kind of distribution you obtain by plotting the ages of celebrities from obituaries taken from the last 10 years. This doesn't favour any type of celebrity or any type of death and I expected a 'young' peak for reckless 'fast-living' celebs and an 'old' peak for people who died of more natural causes. Nigel, who I share an office with, said he expected a peak in the 60s, followed by a small dip, then another peak in the 80s. This was based on reading obituaries in the newspaper.

Celebrity ages at death
The histogram appeared to have 3 groups: young, middle and old, so I attempted to fit 3 'normal distributions'. When I did this I found the peak ages were: 42, 65 and 84.



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