Long-haired and limber, “Serious” isn’t a look that Russell Brand wears often, but the comic has tapped into his innermost emotions to write a poignant tribute to his late friend Amy Winehouse. Brand, whose own struggles with drugs, alcohol, and sex have been well-documented, believes that society needs to change its attitude to drug addicts.
The Arthur star, 36, recalls first meeting Winehouse at a sound session in London, he was only in the early stages of his own recovery then. Remembering her first as “a twit in a pink satin jacket shuffling round bars,” Russell says he made a point of getting to know Amy once he saw her on stage and felt “the awe that envelops when witnessing a genius.”
Writing on his official website, Russell recalls hearing “a voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine… So now I knew. She wasn’t just some hapless wannabe, yet another pissed up nit who was never gonna make it…She was a fucking genius.”
After sadly witnessing her decline first-hand, Russell described addiction as “a serious disease” that will “end with jail, mental institutions or death.”
“We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease,” he wrote. “Not all addicts have Amy’s incredible talent. Or Kurt’s or Jimi’s or Janis’s, some people just get the affliction. All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill. We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care. We need to look at the way our government funds rehabilitation.”
He continued: “It is cheaper to rehabilitate an addict than to send them to prison, so criminalisation doesn’t even make economic sense. Not all of us know someone with the incredible talent that Amy had but we all know drunks and junkies and they all need help and the help is out there.”