TMZ

Our TV Shows

Got a Tip?

Call TMZ at (888) 847-9869 or Click Here

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

No Avatar
181.

Terri    

Thank you for writing this. Hopefully it will make a few people think twice about critisizing someone battling their demons.

1122 days ago
182.

SLO    

I've read Russell's book, and found him to be articulate and brilliant, despite the goofy public persona. This kind of tribute is from one talented, and formerly troubled talent to another. So sad that Amy couldn't have followed Russell's path. My best wish is that he stays well and we get to continue to enjoy HIS genius. Well said Russell.

1121 days ago
183.

Tonya Bradley    

I will say I have a lot of hate when it comes to drugs. Mainly because of my ex-husband and the way it has interfered with our girls. Mr Brand I commend you for getting me to see this a different way. It is a sad thing to watch someone loss control and become someone totally different from what they once were. And hurts so much more to the girls being affected by it. It is a desease. I hope for myself that I don't judge but try and help in some kind of way.

Thank you Russell Brand,
T

1121 days ago
184.

jolie2344    

Wow, such a profound, deep and insightful look into one's self and the disease of addiction. The delightful discovery of one's talent to the unknowing fan discovering whats behind the curtain knowing where that road leads. Very touching and moving.

1121 days ago
185.

C. Marshall    

Russell B has written one of the most poignant blogs in such an articulate and beautiful way, and he writes it with such compasion and love for those afflicted with chemical & substance abuse. Some hurt so bdly, the reach for their happiness and peace is just out of reach, and they numbe their pain to cope. I know as I have many people in my family who suffer from these afflictions. He is quick to say that it is not a moral issue, but a medical disease that need curing just as if one has diabetes, or cancer or heart disease..alll of which are most difficult to cure. Only with chemical abuse, it is needing to be cured with a difficult type of work. The work of the mind and soul and , the self esteem, the abandonment issuses, the emotional pain that afflicts these poor souls. We must be proactive as Russel states and be there for them before they get that last call that is too late. THis artical teaches us so much. Make the call and help someone before someone ends up like Amy. She was a genius. Way ahead of her young years in her genius for her her bluesy and jazzy voice. A sound from the ole famous jazz singers...plus a little more. I have always loved Russel Brands sence of humor and he is extremely talented, but I never knew he had a heart and soul like this and his brilliant writing skills have just amazed me. I have a new found respect for him for the deep down commpassion and this spot on perfect blog he has written about Amy, and I will alwys save it to remember the real Russel Brand that is underneath his talentent humor and silliness. Thank You Russell for educationg people about what addiction is,l and how it can find and then steal your heart and soul, and that it is not a moral issue, but a medical issue. No one should judge so harshley unless they know exactly what the addicts childhood has been or what else they have been though. Such has molestation, physically and emotional abused children. Children left alone with nothing to eat. No one know what they have been through. Is it an excuse to take chemicals, or prescritions or acid...no, but it is and explaination of these sick people end up this way. They need to excape, but we need to help them and encourage them and be there for them before it's too late. Thanks Russell Brand..you wrote a brilliant blog that I hope everyone will read and understand what is really going on. You gave an excellen and heartfelt excplanton that has educated everyone who is lucky enough to run across your blog. Peace out, and God Bless You Russell.
Carol P Marshall. cpauls524@yahoo.com

1121 days ago
186.

Vicki Sandoval    

This is the most beautiful remembrance I have ever read... Thank you Russell for giving those who did not know Amy this insight of your connection with her, and for sharing your own experience, and for being a true Teacher of compassion...

1121 days ago
187.

Carol P. Marshall    

And one more thing. You are a genius too Russel. You write and pen the most brilliant way of describing this tribute to Amy. You write like a brilliant author, and describe to perfection the way you see things..such a beautiful writen, thought provoking piece on Amy while educational at the same time. Never knew you were a genius too. I've always loved watching you, but a new Russell has emerged to be a caring, sweet and kind human being in nwriting for Amy's loss. I hope you send a copy of this to her parents. I know thye would appreciate it. I liked you before with your humor, but I have a newfound respect and and love you for giving Any some of the dignity back after her hard times with your explantions of her maladys is such a warm, caring way. Everything you said is so true. Love your pure honesty. Bless You always. Carol Marshall

1121 days ago
188.

The music    

So profoundly expressed Russell .Heartbreaking
Good luck to you Russell

1121 days ago
189.

Toddsmom    

As the mother of an amazing young man that suffered from addiction to drugs & alcohol. I received the call on July 12, 2009. It was not the cry for help call... Although I had received that call on aoccasion too, But recovery is not within everyones reach. Not from addiction or from cancer or any other cronic disease.
How very beautiful and eloquent Russell has told the story of addiction.

1121 days ago
190.

Jeannie    

Wow, Russel, I don't know if you realize what a beautiful writer you are! I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend, whom you endearing called "Winehouse". She was a beautiful singer, who sang from the depths of her soul. An etherial sadness, haunting even, that emanated from her entire being. I have thought long and hard about your text regarding addiction. I too, am an addict, though not because I enjoy being high. I suffer from severe chronic back pain and I have been clean, but the pain is unbearable without the meds. So I take as few pain pills as possible and have been laying on my couch for 7 yrs. So where does that leave me in the spectrum of addiction? I know about denial. I never get high (at least I don't think so). I don't feel high. Mostly, I feel as though my life has been deduced to pain. It hurts to do anything, even when I take my meds. Am I wrong, or is there a place somewhere in between that line for people like me?

1121 days ago
191.

Gullible    

I am not a fan of Russel Brand though I do adore Harvey and his crew, but this was so well written and I want to say - great writing RB and kudos to you.

1121 days ago
192.

tara    

beautifully written Russell. Thank you

1120 days ago
193.

Cindy    

Thank you Russel. Tears for Amy. Good bye baby girl!

1120 days ago
194.

James    

WOW! Well put Russell, my auntie got that same call as Amy's parents, sadly it wasn't my cousin on the other end ready to quit it was the tragic call.


miss you Amy and RIP

1120 days ago
195.

bucmjt    

TMZ, thank you for posting this. Russell Brand's tribute is beautiful and perfect. The angelic voice destroyed by the disease of addition.

1120 days ago
Previous 15 Comments | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | Most Recent | Next 15 Comments

Around The Web