My car radio broke down for months, and when I finally punched the code back in, I was not surprised to hear Nirvana was still playing on KROQ.

After more than a decade, this band is somehow still in the music world’s consciousness. Spin magazine’s latest cover even bore the title “Nevermind: Why it matters now.” Dave Grohl might have gone on to form another, longer-lasting band, but come every death anniversary of Kurt Cobain, we remember the very influential trio they were both a part of 10-plus years ago.

Cobain’s untimely death made him a part of the 27 Club, a group of legendary artists whose lives ended at the young age of 27 but who gained immortality in the music world. And, now, with the death of Amy Winehouse, the list is even longer. What she and Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and many other artists contributed to the music world is immeasurable.

With her death, the debate about her impact and, to a larger extent, the importance of all the artists in the 27 Club is put up to debate. To some, the fact that the artists died so young proves nothing about their talent. To some, the death of Winehouse was no surprise, and her impact seems short-lived. To others, she represents an artist with unrealized potential who could have gone even further had she conquered her demons.

But the reason why this 27 Club is so important and captivates the minds of so many music lovers is because we never did get to understand them better. Neither we nor the musicians themselves ever manage to solve the demons plaguing these geniuses, and that in itself is enough to garner them immortality. Their deaths, in fact, cemented their fame in a way that perhaps nothing else could have done if they continued to live.

In each artist’s life there was also the mystery of what else they could do that they already hadn’t. They somehow chose the right time and sound to create an impact on the music world that rippled out of control. But with so much success, what else could they have done?

Yet music is a fascinating art because when it is done successfully, the fan feels an inexplicably strong connection to the musician. The 27 Club proves this better than any other group of artists. In the gritty voice and screeching guitar sounds of Cobain, we hear melancholy and angst clearly and loudly. In the soulful and lyrically honest songs of Winehouse, we hear complex emotions and a completely apathy towards what anyone else thinks. And in the genius sounds coming from Hendrix we are able to better understand some things that couldn’t be put into words.

It’s this connection that makes these artists important after so many years. Their unabashed emotion, unapologetic honesty and singular personalities have made them not only huge personalities in the music world but fascinating figures in popular culture in general. It’s difficult to find a person who doesn’t recognize the name of any of these given artists.

These artists gave us themselves, not packaged, not altered, but honest. And that is what any great musician must risk doing. Even in their deaths, we saw them as they were, flaws and all. And the fact that we couldn’t exactly understand them only made us fall more musically in love.

The raw talent, musical adventurousness and unabashed sincerity of these artists are what will live on. It is what any musician will want to reach. In looking at the 27 Club, a musician can only hope to remain in the music world’s consciousness as long and make such a great impact.

Any teenager 10 years from now blasting Nirvana in his/her room will still sing the lyrics as if they were written for him/her, will still feel the passion behind the notes of that guitar.

It is a pity that these musicians will not continue to make music, but it is lucky for us to have known them at all. We’ve got their voices recorded, their struggles written down and their legends imprinted on the notes that float from our ears to our very souls.