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Russell Brand's Heartfelt Blog About Amy Winehouse

7/24/2011 5:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Russell Brand, who famously battled addiction for years, wrote a long and touching blog about his friend Amy Winehouse -- whom he called both a genius and a junkie.

Russell Brand Eulogy
Russell says he finally conquered his addiction at the age of 27, the same age Amy was when she passed away. He says he'd known Amy for a long time before he had ever heard her sing ... calling her voice "entirely human yet laced with the divine."

Here's his blog, in its entirety

For Amy

When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they've had enough, that they're ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it's too late, she's gone.

Frustratingly it's not a call you can ever make it must be received. It is impossible to intervene.

I've known Amy Winehouse for years. When I first met her around Camden she was just some twit in a pink satin jacket shuffling round bars with mutual friends, most of whom were in cool Indie bands or peripheral Camden figures Withnail-ing their way through life on impotent charisma. Carl Barrat told me that "Winehouse" (which I usually called her and got a kick out of cos it's kind of funny to call a girl by her surname) was a jazz singer, which struck me as a bizarrely anomalous in that crowd. To me with my limited musical knowledge this information placed Amy beyond an invisible boundary of relevance; "Jazz singer? She must be some kind of eccentric" I thought. I chatted to her anyway though, she was after all, a girl, and she was sweet and peculiar but most of all vulnerable.

I was myself at that time barely out of rehab and was thirstily seeking less complicated women so I barely reflected on the now glaringly obvious fact that Winehouse and I shared an affliction, the disease of addiction. All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they're not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but un-ignorable veil. Whether a homeless smack head troubling you for 50p for a cup of tea or a coked-up, pinstriped exec foaming off about his "speedboat" there is a toxic aura that prevents connection. They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they're looking through you to somewhere else they'd rather be. And of course they are. The priority of any addict is to anaesthetise the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief.

From time to time I'd bump into Amy she had good banter so we could chat a bit and have a laugh, she was "a character" but that world was riddled with half cut, doped up chancers, I was one of them, even in early recovery I was kept afloat only by clinging to the bodies of strangers so Winehouse, but for her gentle quirks didn't especially register.

Then she became massively famous and I was pleased to see her acknowledged but mostly baffled because I'd not experienced her work and this not being the 1950's I wondered how a "jazz singer" had achieved such cultural prominence. I wasn't curious enough to do anything so extreme as listen to her music or go to one of her gigs, I was becoming famous myself at the time and that was an all consuming experience. It was only by chance that I attended a Paul Weller gig at the Roundhouse that I ever saw her live.

I arrived late and as I made my way to the audience through the plastic smiles and plastic cups I heard the rolling, wondrous resonance of a female vocal. Entering the space I saw Amy on stage with Weller and his band; and then the awe. The awe that envelops when witnessing a genius. From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness. A voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine. My ears, my mouth, my heart and mind all instantly opened. Winehouse. Winehouse? Winehouse! That twerp, all eyeliner and lager dithering up Chalk Farm Road under a back-combed barnet, the lips that I'd only seen clenching a fishwife fag and dribbling curses now a portal for this holy sound. So now I knew. She wasn't just some hapless wannabe, yet another pissed up nit who was never gonna make it, nor was she even a ten-a-penny-chanteuse enjoying her fifteen minutes. She was a f**king genius.

Shallow fool that I am I now regarded her in a different light, the light that blazed down from heaven when she sang. That lit her up now and a new phase in our friendship began. She came on a few of my TV and radio shows, I still saw her about but now attended to her with a little more interest. Publicly though, Amy increasingly became defined by her addiction. Our media though is more interested in tragedy than talent, so the ink began to defect from praising her gift to chronicling her downfall. The destructive personal relationships, the blood soaked ballet slippers, the aborted shows, that youtube madness with the baby mice. In the public perception this ephemeral tittle-tattle replaced her timeless talent. This and her manner in our occasional meetings brought home to me the severity of her condition. Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death. I was 27 years old when through the friendship and help of Chip Somers of the treatment centre, Focus12 I found recovery, through Focus I was introduced to support fellowships for alcoholics and drug addicts which are very easy to find and open to anybody with a desire to stop drinking and without which I would not be alive.

Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticised, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. 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. 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. All they have to do is pick up the phone and make the call. Or not. Either way, there will be a phone call.
218 COMMENTS

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1.

Rage    

Finally, some reality.

Well done and thank you Russell.


Haters and Bashers can still kiss my As*

1189 days ago
2.

Spiggle    

Thank you Russell, I never thought your heart would open up so wide for one of additions wayward children. Lost among that barrier. She's free now. Free from those binds.
Bless you both, Cheers, and keep your freedom.

Love ya Amy, So sad and tragic your life, The key to immortality is living a life worth remembering.

peace.

1189 days ago
3.

2drk2fck    

Very nicely put

1189 days ago
4.

Alan Carver    

That was a very honest and moving blog! Thank you Russell Brand for tearing down the walls, and sharing with anyone who will read this, the truth and thank you for not glamorizing, or condemning those afflicted with addiction. Now I need to go and wipe away some of these tears. Thank you!

1189 days ago
5.

boricua4669    

Sad situation.... very sad ! R.I.P. Amy !

1189 days ago
6.

rini6    

Russell's own journey has brought him some real wisdom. The human empathy, he likely has always had.... thanks...

and RIP, Amy...

1189 days ago
7.

Ptown    

Leave it to Russell to be the voice of reason here. Beautiful.

1189 days ago
8.

Cao    

After reading that I feel its time to make that phone call...

1189 days ago
9.

John    

first...this is so ery touching.. she will be missed

1189 days ago
10.

Mememeow    

Very eloquently said Russell. Addiction of any kind to any substance sucks, but you have to want to stop and sadly many don't reach that point.

1189 days ago
11.

lanie    

Well, I do not care for Russell Brand, but I am in awe of what I just read. He is spot on and that was beautifully written.

Bottom line: addiction is a disease.

She was someone's child.

She had family who loved her.

She had fans who loved her.

Despite her "flaws", addictions, illness -- she had people who loved her.

It is far too easy to just be cruel at this time - instead of opening your mind and opening your heart.

RIP Amy.

1189 days ago
12.

LINNY    

Your insight into addiction, human nature, life and death amazes me.I can think of no better eulogy than this PROFOUND grasp of the truth . Your cool points have skyrocked in my eyes, Russell, because you are so F**king real.You have truely met and touched greatness, and all of us who have enjoyed her music have been touched by the devine.

1189 days ago
13.

aquanet    

Good job Russel!

1189 days ago
14.

WingsInMySpine    

Really well written and surprisingly smart. It is sad, but we all have to be responsible for our own lives and outcomes.

1189 days ago
15.

SpaceyG on Twitter    

*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. All they have to do is pick up the phone and make the call. Or not. Either way, there will be a phone call.*

Indeed. Thank you for posting this in its entirety, TMZ. Such beautiful and informed words/quotes we can pull from.

1189 days ago
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