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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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16.

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. So beautiful words/quotes we can pull from.

1136 days ago
17.

Kat    

Getting a 404 error when clicking the link to his blog

1136 days ago
18.

Shelly    

Well written!

1136 days ago
19.

CC    

Wow, Thank you Russell for this emotional tribute to Amy and to all that receive or place that call. RIP Amy.

1136 days ago
20.

Harriet     

Thank you Russell for an honest, from the heart, description of the struggle's of an addict. Being in recovery myself, I know the horrors of addiction, and the beauty and pain of recovery. The beauty because once again you learn to know and love yourself and respect yourself for the struggle you have come through. The pain of knowing there are so many others out there needing recovery and cannot get to it, for personal reasons, or the cruel reality that our governments would rather put us behind bars, than treat us and give us the opportunity to be all we can be. Thank you Thank you Thank you

1136 days ago
21.

rhbjorn    

I have always had this odd sense that Russel Brand was highly gifted, but just did not say so, Now I know

1136 days ago
22.

Kim    

Wow. "Either way there will be a phone call."

1136 days ago
23.

CTV    

You're 100% spot on Russel. I've received 2 of those phone calls. And I knew they were coming; one day.

1136 days ago
24.

Karen     

Very well said Russell, beautiful.

1136 days ago
25.

SpaceyG on Twitter    

I expect the TMZ audience might need some enlightenment shed on the *Withnail-ing their way through life on impotent charisma* portion. Here's a trailer for the brilliant film, Withnail and I. Look for cameo by Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon, HP fans). http://imdb.to/n61I3e

1136 days ago
26.

NoBozo    

The voice of experience is a writer from the heart.
Most sincerely touching and sadly, too filled with insight.

1136 days ago
27.

Carrie    

It's not a disease. "the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you....that they're ready to stop, ready to try something new"..... oh yeah right no one ever gets a call from someone with cancer, a real disease, telling us they'd like to 'try something new'.

If you have no willpower and you want to play along and go and call it a 'disease', by all means. But that's all in your mind. Bad habits. Habitual escapism, habitual eating, smoking, drinking, drug use, habitual whatever are NOT diseases. Interesting disease when you don't have the 'disease' when you're sleeping. People with real diseases have diseases in their bodies 24/7 and these diseases were diagnosed and found in their bodies by real doctors who performed real examinations of their organs through tests or scans or whatever. No such evidence is found to attest to the 'disease' of drinking too much. Someone 'declares' your behavior 'diseased', nothing more. True believers in the disease model of habitual substance use like to believe in the faith based religion of 'it's a disease because I said it is'. That's not science. That's not evidence.

I've had bad habits, conquered them. I have some still I'm yet to conquer. I know that it is up to me to break these habits.

Finally Brand said "We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care." I'm sorry this is baloney. I agree it shouldn't be a crime to use a drug, but doing something too much doesn't make you sick. Working too much, buying too much, eating too much, being lazy too much, worrying too much, lying or hating too much, doing drugs too much, are frowned upon lifestyles and it is people who make the decisions to fall into and continue in these lifestyles. Russel Brand wants to spend my tax dollars on AA 12 step style programs. What's the dismal success rate of AA again? I'm not going to be browbeaten into his bad habits are a 'disease' belief system. Millions of people are harmed by being led to believe they have no free will by his beliefs. 'Admit you are powerless' is a completely evil belief system that sets people up to be passive victims and not active free agents.

1136 days ago
28.

Tangela    

What a wonderful article on a sad event. I have been reading blogs/articles about Amy Winehouse and this is by far the best that I have read about this unfortunate event.
She is someones daughter, friend and inspiration and love should be shown but this world has become such a cruel and cold place. Tragedy is treated as though it is the victims fault. Why is it necessary to assess blame? Why can't we learn and grow from the experience and heal along the way?
My sincere heartfelt condolences to all who are affected by this unfortunate event and may you find peace in time.
Tangela

1136 days ago
29.

DatDogBitez    

"I've had bad habits, conquered them. I have some still I'm yet to conquer."

I would suggest that the propensity to post boorish self-righteous holier-than-thou comments based on no real experience in the realm of serious drug addiction, would be your next bad habit to conquer.

1136 days ago
30.

memchee    

Sooooh, was Russell a part of any intervention efforts with Amy?

If so, label him a friend, if not his blog is out of place and an opportunity.

Sounds like he and others like him would have been perfect for her intervention.

1136 days ago
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