Amy Winehouse’s passing has inspired a number of famous friends and admirers to voice their sadness over her untimely death over the weekend. Among those (including some from collaborators Mark Ronson, Tony Bennett and the Dap Kings), the most indelible tribute has come from an unlikely but fitting source: Actor and comedian Russell Brand.
In a long blog post titled “For Amy” that appeared on the Get Him to the Greek star’s official site, Brand (who has famously grappled with substance abuse himself over the course of his life) wrote of how universal the arc of addiction is: “When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone.”
Of his friend Winehouse, he worte: “She wasn’t just some hapless wannabe, yet another pissed up nit who was never gonna make it, nor was she even a ten-a-penny-chanteuse enjoying her fifteen minutes,” he wrote. “She was a f—ing genius.”
Brand first saw the young Winehouse perform at a Paul Weller concert, an experience he recalled vividly.”From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness,” he recalled. “A voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine. My ears, my mouth, my heart and mind all instantly opened. Winehouse. Winehouse? Winehouse!”
According to Brand, who has been sober for eight years and who still attends AA meetings, Winehouse’s death should serve as a wake-up call to how people treat addicts. “Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today,” he wrote. “We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. … We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care.”
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