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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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166.

SeaBiscuit    

Wow, amazing, very well written Russell. I really admire your honesty and truth. She will be missed.

1102 days ago
167.

Paladin    

Ditto!! I have never been a Russell Brand fan either, but your stock just went up 100 times in my book. Thank you for the kind, wise words amidst all the tsk tsking, naysaying and 20/20 hindsight here on TMZ and elsewhere.

It's easy to be an armchair rehab expert and pontificate on how someone should have stepped in and saved Amy, but, I don't know if it was even possible. I can't relate to the kind of pain and unhappiness one must have to feel the need to self-medicate to the extent Amy did. But it must have been intense, and she wasn't able to simply tough it out or find the right kind of help as you were so fortunate to do.

Indeed as those of us who enjoyed her talent know, she was not some spoiled brat junkie train wreck, and yet we all watched helplessly as this disaster unfolded before our eyes. We all hoped that somehow Amy would "get her s#@t together", but it was not to be. And we have all lost because of it. Maybe we can get our collective acts togeether before we lose the next one.

Thanks again for the kind words. Peace and much Respect!

1102 days ago
168.

Taylor    

Im not a guy that gets emotional alot, but after reading this, i get that little lump in my throat that is usually followed by a tear, Russel Brand, i have never been a fan, but your words here are amazing...
RIP AMY

1102 days ago
169.

carrie Clayden    

Russell,
well said. I have been sober for 10 years and I owe it all to AA, I am happy to discover that you are a fellow addict. We are all such interesting folk! It is tragic that some cannot find it, my brother is actively destroying his life whilst we await a phone call, hopefully which says he is done. The irony is, as you said, that no one can do it for you, and for those who care about the addict, it is a helpless place to be. Good for you that you publicly announce yourself as a recovering addict. You are a great example and I think the more we are NOT anonymous the better we are able to help....

1102 days ago
170.

I'm not anyone    

Wow! Well said Rusell! And thanks to TMZ for posting in its entirety.

1102 days ago
171.

Dee    

Russell is a class act......and very truthful in his remarks.......maybe people in power will actually listen one day and treat the causes of the addictions instead of ignoring them and hoping they will go away.

1102 days ago
172.

zebra3    

for carrie,was your heart broken so badly, or were you born this way. really?

1102 days ago
173.

john doe    

after reading that, i believe i'm making that call. NOT for me but for some1 i know.

Russel,
Thank you

1102 days ago
174.

AROD    

rip - Amy

Russell thank you for sharing - very well writtten

1102 days ago
175.

Launa L Chavez    

Clean and sober 15 years and your words took me back to day 1. I am biting my tongue though because of some of the comments. Outside looking in we are all experts. What Russell said is so true and so profound. And I am a HUGE Russell Brand fan, I am NOT surprised that it was written so intelligently, and I KNEW your heart would be so open to a fellow addict. RIP Amy.

1102 days ago
176.

LostSok    

Powerful and well written. Mr. Brand is much deeper than I suspected.

1101 days ago
177.

Thelma    

Who would have thought a person like Russel Brand could pen such a tribute to Amy Winehouse its fantabulous!Iknow some people who could use rehab no pun intended but has the saying goes,they are the only ones who can help themselves.She[Amy]diedway too young just think what she could have done and what she had aready done.She'llbe up there with Janis Joplin.R.I.P Dear Amy.

1101 days ago
178.

Kristen    

I thought this was beautifully written. It's very honest and obviously right from the heart. <3

1101 days ago
179.

Neil    

Thanks for this, Russell. I am seriously disturbed at the lack of support she seemed to have had in overcoming her afflictions. I'm sure she had a lot in fact, and I know how devious and single-minded addicts can be, but so many people have said they are not surprised by her death. So they knew she needed more help? And I am struck by the curious way fans seemed to have been attracted by (?have given encouragement to) her lifestyle. You're best placed to know how much pressure fame and public attention can have given. But bottles and vodka on her floral tribute; what's that all about? It is doubly sad if she now becomes an icon simply because she is dead.

1101 days ago
180.

Marc W.    

God Bless the child with a tortured heart.
God Bless the child, she had a rough start.

Seared by the pain of being Amy, she tore through life
Seems that never enough healing could ease her strife.

Through hapless hobos and dank back bars
She sang her pain until she became a star.

But the frothing dog was always at her heels,
Chasing, panting with a red-eyed rabid zeal.

Stopping for a moment she tried to catch her breath,
--the dog of addiction ripped from her last breath.

God Bless the child with a tortured heart.
I rejoice for now I know she has a new start.

---

We love you AMY. Rest in Peace.
Marc W. Los Angeles, CA

1101 days ago
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