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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.

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Wow! Very well put, Russell! I am a recovering drug addict/alcoholic and I agree with everything Russell said. My heart goes out to these celebrities that suffer from addiction. Their chances of getting sober are less than average because they are surrounded by people who are willing to do anything for them and money never runs out. They seem to not have the support of those around them and the media loves nothing more than a tragic story, thus they almost encourage the downward spiral of these addicts, pushing them further down. Watching old vidoes of Amy Winehouse on stage and obviously drunk and high, one in which she actually does a line onstage, it is hard to fathom how NO ONE in her band or inner circle urged her to get help. Or perhaps they did, and she just didn't want it. Whatever the case, it doesn't matter. This woman is gone, and yet another human being suc***bs to this theif of a disease: addiction.

1188 days ago

truth and mercy    

WOW! Russell tells it like it is! I am "IMAGINING" a future with knowledge, help, kindness, gentleness in dealing with the dis- ease of addiction. I know we now have baby drop off centers, how about a drunk/drugged friend or family or total stranger drop off center where we as fellow human beings can care for those who have lost the ability to care for themselves? Amy seemed to be suffering greatly ,so all I can really hope and pray for her is that she has found peace. May our creator send the help and healing we all need to treat this problem. EDUCATION is KEY!

1188 days ago


Thank you Russell for writing such a moving tribute to your friend. As the mother of a currently recovering (yet again) addict, I know you're always waiting for that phone call. The whole article was well done but all I can say after that last line is "wow".

1188 days ago


Now TMZ needs to stop making fun of addicts like Lindsay Lohan. ASddiction is a deadly disease that can happen to anyone. Addicts are people that need help and compassion. Russel Brand's blog is very insightful.

1188 days ago


c3ny .... you illerterate uneducated piece of Bronx crap :>

GOOGLE anything on Russell and Amy and you'll See they've indeed been friends for years -- That's IF, your stolen apple commadore computer can even display results.

Your comments are clearly for hate and based on absolutely Nothing.

My suggestion to you is:
1) Get a JOB
2) Move out of your parents house
3) Learn to SPELL correctly
4) Comment on things to KNOW, rather than fart through your teeth
and finally,
5) Slap your parents for teaching you how to think

RIP Amy, and many thanks to Russell for showing us his personal insight with a beloved friend.

1188 days ago


Wow!! That was some very powerful words. Heed the call.

1188 days ago


For second I thought that photo was a still from the 1980s movie MASK with Cher. Russell looks like he could be a brunette twin to Redheaded "Rusty Dennis". He is the splitting image to the kid in MASK....

1188 days ago


Russell, Tho I am not a fan of your type of comedy, I do want to give you kudos for your blog on Amy Winehouse. Addiction is a disease and people need to know it's a lifelong addiction (been there done that) and needs to be treated.
Thank you so much for your thoughts about addiction and Amy Winehouse, it was so well written.

1188 days ago

california walsh    

Carrie: you don't have a clue about anything! You are stupid and ignorant and have embarrassed yourself by writing this garbage! Addiction is scientifically proven to be a a neurological disease, by REAL doctors and scientists who are committed to understanding one of the most horrifying afflictions on the planet. Spend some time researching this and you just might learn something! If it is so easy to practice will power why do you think AA has such a low success rate?! Sadly when people become addicted they give up personal choice and their brains become high-jacked. What we need is better education so that young people have a healthy fear of the realities of this devastating illness.
Thank you, Russel Brand, for a moving and articulate letter of remembrance. i loved you Amy- RIP.

1188 days ago


well put ... sad .. but a wake up call for alot of folks, HOPEFULLY

1188 days ago


that was really beautifully written and very needed. i was in tears reading it. it breaks my heart that so many suffer from addiction. personally, i know how hard it is, and his words touched me. thank you mr. brand.

1188 days ago


that was really beautifully written and very needed. i was in tears reading it. it breaks my heart that so many suffer from addiction. personally, i know how hard it is, and his words touched me. thank you mr. brand.

1188 days ago


If you enjoyed this, read Russell's books..
Your life will be changed.

1188 days ago


that was really beautifully written and very needed. i was in tears reading it. it breaks my heart that so many suffer from addiction. personally, i know how hard it is, and his words touched me. thank you mr. brand.

1188 days ago

Sandra Kay    

Well written and very heartfelt........we will miss her.

1188 days ago
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