Sunday, July 24, 2011

RIP Amy Winehouse

As multiple sources are now confirming, Amy Winehouse, 27, has died. She was found in her London home at about 4pm local time.

While not unexpected — she’s famously battled a severe substance abuse problem for years — the news is still incredibly sad. In an age of the manufactured pop star, Winehouse was a truly gifted singer and songwriter.

Her 2007 Grammy-winning break-through album, “Back to Black,” showcased a 60s Phil Spector-like vibe, and Winehouse herself maintained the image with a signature beehive hairdo and heavy black eyeliner, set off by an array of thoroughly modern tattoos.

At some point, though, it all went off the rails. Winehouse’s drug of choice was reported to be crack cocaine, and there are loads of unflattering photos of her looking alarmingly thin with the telltale missing teeth and self-inflicted wounds on her face.

Over the years she’s had countless failed stints in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, and even more attempts at come-back concerts and tours. Video taken at those concerts shows a disheveled and slurry Winehouse who had trouble staying on her feet, remembering the lyrics to her songs and, in some instances, even staying awake long enough to finish them.

Ironically, the song for which she will almost certainly be most-remembered was her hit “Rehab,” whose chorus included the line, They tried to make me go to rehab but I said “no, no, no.”

I shouldn’t have been shocked when the news of her death broke. And yet, I was. As a fan, I hoped she could turn things around.

She now takes her place in a long line of talented music stars who died before their time, consumed by demons both seen and unseen. As the old Righteous Brothers song goes, If there’s a rock and roll heaven, well you know they’ve got a hell of a band.

Farewell, Amy. We will miss you.

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