Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Amy Winehouse Dead at 27

The death of Amy Winehouse is a great tragedy. The television obituaries portray a life only half-lived, which touched greatness and fell from the heights with distressing speed. Truly, this is a very sad story.
I cannot say that I have explored her music greatly, despite the dreadful brevity of her canon. My musical interests lie elsewhere. She came to my attention not because of her music but because of her personal life, but the music, when it was heard, was clearly the result of a great talent.

Her voice was amazing – as deep and smoky as Billie Halliday’s. It cut through the airwaves and, whether you liked it or loathed it, you listened. And her music was not just liked, but loved. Five Grammys, three Ivor Novello’s, and a Mercury nomination, to name just a few of her many awards: this is the mark of a great talent, adored the world over. 

The collapse from bright new talent to the singer who was booed at concerts to young woman found dead at 27 was public, devastating and horrible to observe. That which is often ignored in such a tale of self-destruction is that Amy Winehouse’s demons were not all her own. She was hunted and her struggles were exploited, and that is unacceptable.

Much is made of the “curse of 27”. Indeed, I was involved in a conversation on the day she died where it was mentioned in connection with her: it was chilling, indeed, to hear the news later on in the day. However, this is not a story of something almost supernatural. All of the deaths at 27, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, and now Amy Winehouse, are stories of drug abuse, yes, and cautionary tales at that. They are not that first.

Above all, they are stories of children lost and talent wasted, and tragedies in the personal and in the general. The heart must go out to her father, Mitch, and her family, and to all those who love young musicians triumphing through talent. The loss today has been great for many.

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