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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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91.

JJ    

Russell, I was completely amazed at your ability to put into words what our hearts feel, have felt or will feel for those tortured souls in our lives. It would have never occurred to me to take you seriously but you are just adorable and have your own talents to be proud of. Amy Winehouse saved my sanity when my days were black and I will indeed miss her voice and lyrics. Thank you for your letter to Amy and to us...now, when I see your name pop up in the news I will most certainly take notice. Cheers!!

1153 days ago
92.

Quinn    

Bravo, Mr. Brand.

1153 days ago
93.

Jen    

Very good blog. Well written.

1153 days ago
94.

Jack    

Well said, Russell! (I've read one of Russell's books before so I'm not at all surprised at how well-written his blog honouring Amy is. He, obviously, has a way with words, whether he's being serious or being a comedian.)

Amy's passing may not be a surprise, but sad news nonetheless.

R.I.P. Amy

1153 days ago
95.

Shaun    

Brilliant Man...I've said from day one! Thank you!

1153 days ago
96.

Jessica    

Wow. Russell, that was beautiful.

1153 days ago
97.

mrs t    

well put. i made the call for help and help is all around you.... just make the call...

1152 days ago
98.

Elaine    

As one who is clean and sober for 21 years, I have never seen our disease discribed so elequently, and without pity or whitewash. Thankyou

1152 days ago
99.

HumanNature    

YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!!!

SO TRUE!! SO TRUE!! SO TRUE!!!

R.I.P. AMY WINEHOUSE

1152 days ago
100.

Areader    

Point on correct! I pray at this time for Amy's family and friends that they will find their strength and peace during these sad times in Jesus.

1152 days ago
101.

peoplearesilly    

Very eloquent and thank you for some positive in all of this from someone who actually knew her.

1152 days ago
102.

Monica    

First of all I want to say to Russell Brand...very well written. It really was a beautiful blog. And to Amy's family...I am very sorry for your loss. Secondly to all you out there judging and hating, specifically Carrie...you guys all just sound bitter. You're absolutely nobody to judge. It blows my mind how even at times like this when a family is suffering the loss of a loved one people have the audacity to judge and talk their crap. Then we wonder why there's so much hate in the world. Who cares if Russell knew or didn't know Amy, who cares that he's calling addiction a disease...do these facts harm you in any way? NO! He wanted to write, so he wrote. So get over yourselves!!!!

1152 days ago
103.

FallenAngel    

To all people saying "why didn't Russel help Amy or staged an intervention?" Read the blog again.....

When he met her he was just out of rehab and she was a drug user. Any drug addict struggling with addiction and barely out of rehab knows not to sarround themselves with drug addicts. The reason he didn't help her ot try to help was because he was struggling with his own addictions and probably tried to sarround himself with sober people and friends. He barely knew Amy and she was always doing drugs and obviously she didn't want to go to rehab. So he left the circle of drug using friends and moved on with his career and life. Who knows if he would still been sober if he continued hanging out with Amy and her circle of friends.

Also to all leaving rude comments about his blog, screw you! This is the nicest thing anyone has ever written about addiction and about Amy's passing. If you don't have nothing nice to say don't say it at all. RIP Amy Winehouse, I wish your life didn't have to end so early.

1152 days ago
104.

Stevie Mack    

This is an excellent article/blog...brought tears to my eyes, the truth will do that. I wish Amy Winehouse could have attended my one-man show, “Stevie Mack’s Diary of a Crackhead” it’s all about educating folks about the disease of ALL ADDICTIONS through laughter. Next performance is August 15th at the Hollywood IMPROV

1152 days ago
105.

smd    

When the world gives you a Jeffery...stroke the furry walls, stroke the furry walls.......

1152 days ago
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