| Lists |

The 27 Club? More like the posthumous platinum club: Albums sales spurred by death

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

You can go on for days debating the musical mysteries of the so called 27 Club -- which includes Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and now Amy Winehouse -- but one thing is certain: The death of these artists had a profound impact on their subsequent sales. Pearl, for example, was released on January 4, 1971, just months after Joplin died on October 4, 1970, and it went on to become the best-selling album of her career, posthumous or otherwise.

While Amy Winehouse has yet to release a posthumous album, it's reported she has enough material for one. In the meantime, however, Back to Black, her second album, which was released in 2006, has jumped back to the top ten of the Billboard 200 albums chart this week, checking in at number nine to be specific. Here's a rundown of four albums by other iconic musicians which saw a sales spikes after their passing.

Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced Hendrix's Valleys of Neptune was released posthumously in March 2010; it was the man's eleventh studio album. Though Neptune charted at number four, it also caused Are You Experienced, the Jimi Hendrix Experience's debut album, to rechart on the Billboard 200 at number 44. Pretty damn good for an album released nearly fifty years prior.

2Pac - All Eyez On Me One of only two 2Pac albums to hit the number one spot on the Billboard 200 while the man was alive, All Eyez On Me also boasts Pac's strongest selling single, "California Love." The album has been certified 9x platinum since its release in February 1996 -- seven months prior to Pac's death. If it sells another million, 2Pac will only be the second hip-hop artist in RIAA history besides Eminem to reach the diamond-certification milestone for two or more albums, his other album being Pac's posthumous greatest hits album released in 1998.

Michael Jackson's whole catalog Yes, we miss the King of Pop, too. But not nearly as much as all of the United States did during the twelve months after his death in June 2009. Remember when you went out to buy Bad in CD form that July, and Best Buy didn't have it? Neither did Target? Or any of the other major CD retailers? Well, according to Billboard, Michael Jackson made $1 billion after his death, and about $383 million of that is from album sales alone -- and in a single year, no less.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono - Double Fantasy Double Fantasy wasn't the strongest selling album initially. It limped in at number 27 upon release, and reviews were less than complimentary. And then John Lennon was murdered three weeks later on December 8, 1980, and boom! Double Fantasy shot up the charts, hitting number two on December 27 and eventually number one on February 7, 1981, where it stayed for two weeks. Double Fantasy even won the Album of the Year Grammy in 1981.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.