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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
106.

StevieT    

Thank you, Russell for speaking so eloquently about this disease of addiction. I just celebrated 21 years of being clean and sober and feel grateful for every day and for all those who have made this enormous leap. I've lost a lot of friends and family from this disease and ignorance and denial only continue to fuel this addiction. Sadly, my fear is that Amy will be remembered as the girl who died of her addiction and not as the wonderful raw talent she was. I pray that this "celebrity" that so many enjoy and gawk at will no longer condone and support this so called "glamorous lifestyle" of alcohol and substance abuse. Enough is enough.

1150 days ago
107.

Michelle LaBrie    

We need more love and compassion towards our fellow man! Peace

1150 days ago
108.

smd    

EvilPromise and c3ny........did someone give you two preschoolers a Jeffery??

1150 days ago
109.

james    

this reminds me of the book written by patty smith on her experiences of her deceased friend robert mapplethorpe. exceptionally wrote and you can feel yourself there.

1150 days ago
110.

CRox    

You are free Amy Winehouse!! The most important part of Russell's blog is that addiction IS A DISEASE and it will lead to 1-jail 2-institutions and/or 3-death. I am a recovering addict. And, if recovery isn't sought and practiced one of the three above will always be true. Enjoyed your blog Russell.

1150 days ago
111.

Coacheswife    

wow...Who'd a thunk? Russell Brand? You're a genious yourself. I will forever miss Amy Winehouse. You wrote a very touching tribute to her...I feel for her parents. Her Dad , he was her hero.

1150 days ago
112.

nz1jvb    

Like probably most people I have cracked little jokes about her death, but after reading that it does really open your eyes a little.. Very well put, despite the fame she is still human and someones child. Very sad....

1150 days ago
113.

Anne     

Carrie - you are beyond embarrassing, not to mention ignorant, boorish and laughingly stupid. You have NO idea what it is like to have the disease of addiction -- like so many holier-than-thou twits, you just THINK you do. So do us all a favor and until you take the time to learn about ALL kinds of diseases (and not just the ones in your narrow, uneducated, appallingly idiotic views)keep your ridiculous mouth shut.

1150 days ago
114.

Darcy    

Very well done Russell, he had the strength to confront his addiction the battle is ongoing. Some find the courage to confront the demon some confront and relapse while others just ignore it and carry on.

1150 days ago
115.

paul a.    

I cant stand you Russell. I dont think you are funny AT all and you come across as a total ******* moron

BUT, this piece was well done. Written from the heart and sincere, I commend you for writing it.

RIP Amy W

May you find the peace you have been seeking.......

1150 days ago
116.

Coco    

Beautiful words. A refreshing change from the nonsensical ramblings of celebrities via Twitter. There are rare talents in music and Amy was just that. You truly hope that she will be remembered for that talent, but sadly we know she won't. The media is an unrelenting force and will surely overshadow her immense talent with videos of her strung out, incoherent, etc.
For those who truly want to hear a beautiful voice full of raw talent regardless of her personal choices or afflictions, find a recording of Amy Winehouse singing a cover of the Shirelles song, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.

1150 days ago
117.

Valerie     

That was so very nice , yes the phone call. So sad for her parents , family and close friends whos lives were intwined with her and who will feel the loss more than anyone. May she find the peace she so needed and was unable to locate here on this earth. Thankyou for something differant and nice than the usual celebrity comments. God Bless

1150 days ago
118.

Jeannie Broussal    

Very good analogy Russell. It takes one to know one, but that is only the beginning. I like your comparison to Amy and a run-of-the-mill addict/alcoholic. God blessed Amy with a spirited talent that she got to share with the world. Others have smaller talents, but no less important, that are shared with a few. Regardless, I hope Amy is remembered for her God-given talent, and her failures as part of human nature, something we all have and can only overcome with help from God. Let it be a lession to others....you can be famous and have a lot of money and recognition, but if you can't praise God and put it all to good use for others, it ends in tragedy. RIP Amy Winehouse. I will remember you for your talent and your struggles, and I will remember you as doing the best you possibly could.
Jeannie

1150 days ago
119.

Michelle LaBrie    

R.I.P. Amy Winehouse

So well written from someone who truely understands it starts as a choice, but eventually becomes a physical affliction. It is a mental disease when it is all said and done! We will never understand this disease unless we all have a caring heart and empathy towards this disease that steals your soul and sometimes kills! Until, our goverment stops treating this as individuals who are nothing but criminals our jails will be overflowing. Put our tax dollars to better use and lock addicts away to institutions to get well and become healthy and happy law abiding citizens! People, when your a child and someone asks you what do you want to be when you grow up nobody answers I want to be an addict! We should think before we speak and stop being so hateful! Peace to you and yours! God bless.

1150 days ago
120.

KimK    

Wow Russell... awesome testament...and an even better commentary on addiction. Thank you. Really.

1150 days ago
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