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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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61.

Michell    

Russell your words will help others. You are very wise! Thanks for shedding light on Amy's plight and yours as well as millions. Rehabilition is what we need to focus on. Thank you!

1194 days ago
62.

Your Momma    

Very well put and I am very much in agreeance. I have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol but I have 2 friends that are, what I have learned looking from the outside is that it is really not that easy for them to quit even if they want to. The reasons are so clear to us why they should quit, but they don't see it, like Russell said, you talk to them and they are not all the way there. How can you convince someone that is not even in the conversation. With proper support and health care, I believe it can be overcome, but the person has to get there and that is the hard part.

1194 days ago
63.

Diane    

Thank you Russell eloquently said.....

1194 days ago
64.

zay    

Wonderful tribute
I'm always surprised by how intelligent Brand is.

1194 days ago
65.

bek    

I love to read Russell Brand. He walks around acting like a court jester, but when he writes, it is sublime. He nails what he is talking about and it is powerful. This was very touching. Thanks for posting it, TMZ.

1194 days ago
66.

Jimbo    

Rage: you're too busy kissing someone else's......

1194 days ago
67.

winter_rogue    

I was nice to read something that had meaning .. Its horrible when anyone dies...such a shame

1194 days ago
68.

lydia hernandez    

well said it!!

1194 days ago
69.

161    

Thank you for writing so intelligently about addiction. You write with genuine fellings for the disease. Please keep writing, people will read and some will get help.

1194 days ago
70.

Kaptainess    

Thank You Russell for telling it like it is. Amy was a human being with a problem that should have been treated with love, understanding and hope. There are family members and friends that are no longer here because of dope, I saw it at a young age and made myself a promise not to get hooked. It was a hard way to go being an outsider amoung the 'fun people' that would leave me to hang amoung themselves so they can do the drugs.

Thank God that you saw the light years ago because you are one of my favorite people.

1194 days ago
71.

Carrie    

california walsh said 'Addiction is scientifically proven to be a a neurological disease, by REAL doctors and scientists'

Is that so? Why is it that you, me, Russel Brand, Amy Winehouse would be said, if we engaged in drug abuse, to be 'diseased addicts' without our 'neurobiology' being examined at all, by any of your 'REAL doctors and scientists'? I'm well aware of the theories. Theories that haven't progressed into anything 'real' yet.

"If it is so easy to practice will power why do you think AA has such a low success rate?!"

I never, ever, said it was easy. But the only ones who don't do it any more, are the ones who have stopped using willpower.

"Sadly when people become addicted they give up personal choice and their brains become high-jacked. "

Sadly your boundless faith in faith healing is self evident. You speak of hijacked brains but there is not a brain being examined by a doctor in sight and you know it. It is always a choice to start and continue taking drugs. Things that feel good, yet are bad for you, need to be stopped. If you're happy to just have blind faith in some belief, that's fine. I don't share your faith. Deal with it. It's not compulsory to take the leaps of faith you seem to like taking.

1194 days ago
72.

fran    

thank you Russell, so well said....RIP Amy

1194 days ago
73.

Franko    

Never ceases to amaze me when such a tragedy occurs, "friends" pop up with snippets of condolences, remembrances, similar experiences yet NONE, even Brand, write that they've reached out to help. And I don't mean a perfunctory help, I mean a stick-by-them-til-they're-finally-clean. How easy it is to show you supposedly cared AFTER the person is gone..pathetic

1194 days ago
74.

NightOwl    

I have a new found respect for Russell Brand. Well done, sir. This adds another personal layer to this tradgey.

1194 days ago
75.

Big Mamma Cornbread    

WOW!!! RICHARD RAMERIZ....SORRY FOR YOUR HEARTFELT LOSS. R.I.P. AMY...you did your job here...angel speed.

1194 days ago
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