Music mogul, Simon Napier-Bell, has managed an impressive list of bands in his time as a music manager. Wham!, The Yardbirds, Marc Bolan, Japan, and in more recent times, Sinead O’Connor. He co-wrote the lyrics of Dusty Springfield’s ‘You Don’t have To Say You Love Me and he has also written a number of books about his time in the music industry.
He’s been there and done it.
Napier-Bell has returned to the film industry, where he started his career. Following his documentaries ‘Sinatra: To Be Frank’ and the brilliant ’50 Years Legal’, he now delves into the music world’s infamous 27 club with ’27 Gone Too Soon’.
Brian Jones (Rolling Stones), Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendricks and Jim Morrison all died at the age of 27 between 1969 and 1970. The myth and legend of the 27 club was reignited with Kurt Cobain died and then later, Amy Winehouse.
Through archive footage and contributions from Paul Gambaccini, Lesley Ann Jones, Olly from Years and Years, Gary Numan, Tom Robinson as well as a host of record company guys of the time, Napier-Bell looks at the reasons behind the demise of the artists in question.
While tales from the past tell us that all these artists had a dependency on substances of one sort or another, Napier-Bell asks why they had this dependency. Vulnerable people, who had a childhood trauma so the became introverted and therefore developed their talents.
What’s interesting to note is that during the film, it was mentioned that if the 27 Club was changed to the 26-30 Club, it would have 20 members.
At 90 minutes long, ’27 Gone Too Soon’ is a good evening’s viewing. I was lucky enough to see its premier in London and the time flew by. There is a lot of information that music lovers will already know contained within this film. What really struck a chord with this viewer, was the human element: the reaction to the death of Amy Winehouse. It’s obvious that some of the contributors knew her and broadcaster, Lesley Ann Jones, was tearful when speaking about Ms Winehouse.
The premier was followed by a Q&A which continued questioning all the artists’ vulnerabilities and the role of the music manager and record company in looking out for their artists.
Yes, these artists were flawed. Yes, they were vulnerable. Yes, ‘someone’ should have done more. But by God they were talented and this film does more than remind of us that.