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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

No Avatar
196.

michjoh    

Thank you.

1183 days ago
197.

JustTryinToMakeIt    

I completely agree with everything that Mr. Brand has said..I know many addicts..I've seen a few of them leave us and I am now currently dealing with one of my best friends trying to get himself clean..The only problem I have is the help isn't that easy to come by..if you don't have the money 9 times out of 10 you can't get help..My friend who is currently trying to get himself clean is about to get kicked out of the I guess it's called a "halfway house" because he can't find employment..it doesn't matter that he goes out everyday trying to find a job if he doesn't have one in a week he will thrown out to on the streets where he will find a hook up and end up right where he started..it frustrates me!!!

1183 days ago
198.

don    

here's a poem that I don't think is about Amy, but it seems fitting ... Flowers in the Field: http://littledebbieoatmealcookie.wordpress.com/flowers-in-the-field/

1183 days ago
199.

sally newsholem    

Amy Winehouse had it all....talent, a loving family, friends, money, everyone at her disposal!....she chose to throw it all away...my brother, a drug addict has nothing in comparison!
BRAND...Shut the F**K up...you are just after publicity after the event.Before she was famous you didn't give a S**T

1182 days ago
200.

Mary    

I too have an "Amy" in my life. Beautiful...I love to hear her laugh, from deep within her soul, smart, with a tender heart...and...she is a felon. She is only 23, with her whole life ahead of her, if only she would go to rehab. So far, she will NOT! A few days clean...bliss, then she is gone....agony! I cannot fix her, she isn't ready yet. Will it take more years in prison (not just jail) or will I get that phone call that I have been dreading for years...I can only pray and keep existing, dreading THE PHONE CALL!

1182 days ago
201.

allourblogs    

Hey, please read my thoughts about Amy Winehouse and some of the other great artists who have died at too young an age. Please leave your comments: http://allourblogsblogs.blogspot.com/2011/08/modern-day-gladiators.html

1178 days ago
202.

Amy_Winehouse    

I was not a super fan but i enjoyed her songs they were honest and deep( http://www.usemeplz.com ). I think a lot of us pretend to be what the world expects us to be. We should be who in reality we want to be without harming ourselves or others.

1176 days ago
203.

WhirlyBird    

You are so right: Afflictions come in not only the form of drugs or alcohol. I'm so glad I was directed here. This is a lovely tribute to a woman who will never be forgotten.

1175 days ago
204.

Reginabean    

Mr. Brand, you are indeed a genius in your own right. You are so smart and eloquent. I appreciate what you said about Amy. I appreciated her music and I was indeed a fan. I wish i could have known her personally, to help her through her addiction. I helped my sister through her recovery, and i know first hand, that its not easy and if somebody would have been able to get to her and get her the help she needed, she may still be here. So sad, may she rest now, in peace.

1175 days ago
205.

Brian Bellini    

Very nice .I wish I could of met her .She seems to have been an amazing women !!

1173 days ago
206.

Lisa Pensa    

I do not know how to contact Russell Brand directly but thought maybe TMZ could pass along a comment!? Maybe his PR person? Or agent? I am a mother of a nineteen yr old daughter who recently completed a 90 day rehab. we have always been a fan of Russell and Katy! We recently saw Russell in Atlantic City on 8-14-11 and his show was great! he came out after the show and took pictures and signed autographs in a mob "which took alot of courage on his part" cause there were some "strange charaters" waiting in the Music Box Lobby at the Borgata in Atlantic City. But I was very impressed that he included in his show that he is recovering! He is a great role model believe it or not! Maybe more celebrities can promote being sober is "NOT" a bad thing!? I wanted to tell him how MAD I am at the guy who bought the webname AmyWinehouseFoundation.com!!!!! Her dad is suffering from the untimely death of his daughter and wanted to do something good for the everyday people -NOT CELEBRITIES-OR BUSINESS Owners- who cannot afford rehab and this person bought the domain name so her dad had to send back donations`````````````````````````````````!Or make a deal to buy the name?! He says it's simply a business deal but guess what....he has to look at himself every day in the mirror and know!..... what goes around comes around and one day maybe someone he loves will be in that position of being addicted and not being able to afford rehab! then he will feel like the **** he should feel like. Maybe the celebrities can get it out there and make him feel like business has its place but NOT when it comes to this. I have a family business and I thank god every day I was able to pay for the rehab my daughter needed, VERY EXPENSIVE! and the insurance company sucks! you have to fight for what you are entitled to! They say addiction is a disease but will only pay for detox and send the person back out on the street after 7 to 10 days! I had to fight tooth and nail to get my kid 28 days in rehab! We fought with Aetna and won 28 days lol( if you can call 28 days winning?)the other 60 days we had to pay $18,200.00, but not everyone is as lucky! I will always be thankful for the Seabrook House in Seabrook NJ for helping my daughter and will contibute to them so other people who cannot afford it can get the help they need! Russell gave that great tribute to Amy and I think him and all the celebrities could help her family get that foundation going in London and in the "United States" . I am just a mom who cares ...help me get my point across to people who have some real pull! maybe TMZ and the celebrities your show covers can shed a negitive light on this Martin McCann?! do something that would really matter in peoples lives! It seems that young celebrities can't handle the new found success and these are the people our young children are seeing in the press like TMZ and MTV everyday and aspiring to. I am in no way saying that the press is the cause, it is just a influence, one of many. Some kids do not have a positive role model, and even if they do still get caught up in the drug and alcohol addiction. (I know first hand) BUT the celebrities and media have a strong influence on them, at least the celcbrities can afford rehab...some average people can not. These kids need help .... and that was what Mitch Winehouse was trying to do! Maybe TMZ can help? PS I watch TMZ and it rocks!The whole show is too funny!I really enjoy the entertainment! Any influence your show might have would really be appreciated!

1155 days ago
207.

Nate Gittler    

Check this out...

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947 days ago
208.

Nate Gittler    

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend! 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.

947 days ago
209.

Nate Gittler    

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....Arkansas Razorbacks tickets

936 days ago
210.

Nate Gittler    

I know many addicts..I've seen a few of them leave us and I am now currently dealing with one of my best friends trying to get himself clean..The only problem I have is the help isn't that easy to come by..if you don't have the money 9 times out of 10 you can't get help....Wildcats Tickets

936 days ago
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