Many of the news reports on the, horrifically tragic & sad, death of Amy Winehouse will undoubtedly mention the thing that first popped into my mind when I read of it on the cover of today’s Observer:
She’s another victim of the curse of 27.
Because Winehouse, like Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and countless others, was a young musician who died, far, far too young, at the age of 27.
But leaving aside the spooky coincidence of this what really strikes me is the difference in what these musicians left behind.
- Brian Jones, founding member of the Rolling Stones, contributed to around 6 or 7 albums.
- Janis Joplin, trail-blazing female blues singer, contributed to 4 albums
- Jim Morrison, singer for the Doors, 9 studio albums
- Jim Hendrix, greatest guitarist of all time, 3 studio albums & 2 live albums
- Kurt Cobain, Nirvana vocalist, 3 studio albums & 3 live albums
- Amy Winehouse – 2 albums
I always felt, particularly after I saw Amy Winehouse play on the Frank tour, that she was not a woman suited for the spotlight. And yet, for a variety of reasons, she was forced on to a treadmill that has led, I think, at least partially to her untimely passing.
She had amazing soul, a great voice, a love of pot & booze, and would undoubtedly have been happier not being forced to go on stage/on the general promo circuit. But, that was the game she was in, and to get through it she seemed to move on from the relatively harmless pleasures that got her through the early days to the stronger and nastier substances that did for her in the end. Undoubtedly there were plenty of leeches, blood suckers and hangers-on cheering her on all the while, not least her useless excuse for an ex-husband. Instead of just being allowed to get on and make amazing music, she was pushed and sucked into a whirlpool of celebrity magazines & meaningless promotional tours.
There really is no way to explain how sad Winehouse’s loss is, particularly whilst a waste of space like Doherty continues to stagger around the place like a puppet who’s strings have been cut. As I write this I’m listening to her first album Frank, an amazing collection of songs written and sung by a strong young woman. That she died a broken, insecure victim of fame is too sad for words. All we’re left with is the memory of her brilliance (one, if not two, of the best albums of the last ten years, and the greatest single of the noughties), and the wrenching thought that she could have been a new Aretha Franklin, bringing joy to music lovers for decades instead of years. The James Bond theme that should have been, but never was, is just the smallest part of this.
The fact that such beauty has been snuffed out on the same day that a crazed killer claimed his actions, in shooting defenceless children, were ‘necessary’, doesn’t bear thinking about.
2 measly, but brilliant, albums is such a poor memorial to such an amazing young woman. I wish her poor, poor family every condolence – I can not imagine what suffering such loss, in the public eye, after a slow-motion suicide attempt lasting 5 years, must be like.
Listening to her music again today, I can’t help but be saddened by the irony of her death when you consider that one of her greatest tracks included the refrain
I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself
Amy Winehouse: RIP. In the end, she simply couldn’t help herself.
Cemetery by seier+seier on flickr