Upon hearing the news, instinct in the modern world instantly ensures that you search Google for evidence as many rumours have emerged in recent years about deaths of celebrities. Amy Winehouse, a long term drug user and mass consumer of alcohol had been struggling with her addictions for a long time. Her musical talent often overshadowed by her off-stage antics, she was renowned for being a mess, for emerging on stage drunk and being unable to perform. In this instance the 'rumour' was true and Amy had lost her enduring battle with herself, and her life ended on the 23rd July 2011. Many claim that it is no surprise that she eventually lost in the struggle she faced; she has been added to the '27 club'; the group of infamous musicians who all lost their enduring battles with mental illness, loneliness and abuse to be forever frozen in time at their prime (Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain the five individuals that retain their status as the most tragic losses to the music world, all at the age of 27).
I met Amy in 2006 in small Bristol pub, 'The Hatchet', prior to her playing a show at the O2 (then, Carling) Academy. This was the week after her infamous, witty appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. She was a charming woman, obviously highly eccentric, but she insisted we be added to her show's guestlist. We played a spot of pool with her, and in spite of her slightly intoxicated state, she was endearing and I was completely glad to have met her.
Her music, comparable to the likes of Billie Holiday, Dusty Springfield and Nina Simone, is utterly mesmerizing in its soulful, contralto beauty. A truly rare talent, her songs were adored by millions as she went on to gain a platinum album title for 2006's Back To Black, alongside being the first Brit to ever win 5 Grammy awards.
A fan of much music composed under the influence of various intoxicating drugs and alcohol alike, I feel it is important for true music fans not to be 'snobby' with regard to drug taking. Many people turn to them for various reasons; to cope with the strain of touring, for creative inspiration and for escapism from a life in which they feel lost. A human should not be judged on the substances they chose to consume, but on their soul and their creativity and their way with people. Papparazzi influence ensured that many regarded Amy as unruly and a disgrace, when in fact if one is to listen to the wise content of her lyrics a deeply tortured and troubled soul with a deep intelligence is revealed. Very few individuals in the 21st century (particularly of my generation of twenty-somethings) can claim never to have taken intoxicating substances into excess, I for one have had far too much to drink on many occasions as a kind of escapism from the mundanity of every day life. This is not a time to compare her life to those who lose their lives in any number of ways. Death in any form is a truly sad thing, and the fans who felt they knew Amy through her music will be deeply saddened by the news.
Amy, a deeply troubled and sad soul sought refuge in music and intoxication. Her talent should never be overlooked through struggles she faced in her private life: both Frank and Back To Black contain some blindingly powerful tracks. The likes of 'Love Is A Losing Game' comprising an enchanting melody and rhythmic accompaniment with a powerful set of lyrics and an understated vocal tone that ensures listeners feel deep attachment to the wise singer. Her talent excelling much mainstream White music of the 2000s, her maturity truly sets her apart from the majority of pop music to grace the charts in its over-processed and often talentless forms.
The loss of a life is always an utterly tragic occurrence. When the talent of a woman is overshadowed by personal choices, the times become even more tragic in nature. Many a brash comment has been made by ignorant individuals looking to boost their morale by disregarding a woman that was loved by so many simply as a 'crackhead'. Amy Winehouse was a fantastic musician, with a voice so powerful and soulful so as comparable to the likes of the great Aretha Franklin. No individual with such talent will ever be disregarded in the long run. Amy has been forever immortalised and her musical influence will forever be cemented in history. She has joined the others who have tragically lost their lives to rock n roll, and will soon join them in being remembered as a truly great musical talent gone too soon.