Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse - A Talent Denied

UPDATE Aug. 23, 2011: Amy Winehouse's Death: No Drugs Found [only Alcohol]

Street art in Mar Vista, CA from JenLaVita
I didn't think I'd be writing another obituary so soon...and for one so young: Amy Winehouse is dead at 27 of unknown causes. Prodigiously talented, Winehouse also had a huge weakness for alcohol, harder drugs, and the men who used them. She reportedly showed signs of early emphysema from chain smoking cigarettes and smoking crack cocaine.

After her 2003 debut disc Frank hit in England, the singer took three years to bring out her next one, saying she smoked a lot of marijuana during that time. When Back to Black was released in 2006, it was a monster hit in England and the U.S. too.

Transcending R&B, soul and jazz with her powerful vocals, Winehouse's "Rehab" was inspired by 60s girl groups with the modern lyrics, "They tried to make me go to rehab,, no, no."

She was banned from entering the U.S. to pick up her Grammy for the hit in 2008, ostensibly over a minor pot bust in Norway. By then she'd been sent to rehab after the London Sun newspaper posted a grainy video on its website allegedly showing her smoking a crack pipe and talking about taking ecstasy and valium. She won five Grammys that year, including Best New Artist.

Winehouse was again denied entry into the U.S. in 2009 after she was arrested again for slapping a photographer, making her unable to perform along with Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen and others at the Coachella festival in Indio, California.

She died with 2.5 million Facebook fans, and countless others. Tony Bennett, 84, who recorded with Winehouse, is one of many who have expressed sadness at her passing. American idol Kelly Clarkson wrote, "I'm incredibly sad....I have been that low emotionally and mentally and that is overwhelming....Sometimes I think this job will be the death of us all, or at least the emotional death of us all."

In her title track from Back to Black Winehouse wrote:

I love you much, it's not enough
You love blow and I love puff
And life is like a pipe
And I'm a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside

We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to black.

In 2007 Winehouse told London's Daily Mail about her hit single "Rehab" and album Back to Black:
"I wrote those songs three years ago but that doesn't seem to matter. People still think I smoke a quarter a day. But it's not even a factor any more. I stopped about two years ago. My drinking has replaced weed. I still have a problem. Well, I have had problems with booze…" Too bad she didn't stick with something safer.

ADDENDUM: Has anyone noticed that Sean Hoare, the 47-year-old whistleblower in the News of the World phone hacking scandal, has also been found dead in his home of "unsuspicious causes"?


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