His early 20s may have been bookmarked by the success of O-Town and a stint on Broadway as Link Larkin in Hairspray, but Ashley Parker Angel still harbored fears about potentially joining the “27 Club.” For those unfamiliar with this nugget of pop culture lore, the “27 Club” refers to a list of notable musicians, actors, artists and celebrities who died at age 27, including Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin.
In an appearance on Behind the Velvet Rope, Angel expressed, “I looked at myself in the mirror, and I was like, ‘If I don’t make a change, I’m gonna join the 27 Club. I’m going to die as this young performer, like many have.’”
Angel made a name for himself in the early 2000s as a member of O-Town, a boy band spawned from the hit reality TV competition Making the Band. “Fame can cause a lot of depression and anxiety and a lot of substance abuse issues and all kinds of psychological issues that people have to work through because there is this darker underbelly to dealing with fame,” he continued, adding that he saw “close friends in the industry” die by suicide.
After a pair of albums in 2001 and 2002, O-Town split and Angel documented his pursuit for solo fame in another reality show called There & Back. He went on to perform in the Broadway productions of Hairspray and Wicked and eventually declined to participate in an O-Town reunion in 2013.
O-Town earned a pair of top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: “Liquid Dreams” (No. 10) and “All or Nothing” (No. 3). Over on the Billboard 200, the boy band notched a pair of entries including O-Town (No. 5) and O2 (No. 28).
Listen to Ashley Parker Angel’s podcast appearance below: