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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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We need to quit making people rich when they have drug addictions by giving them reality shows, we need to look down on it, as we once did, instead of glamourizing it. Same with sex tapes, all of it. From this point forward, we need to take away opportunities of those with this disease, not give them cover shoots and movie roles. Too many people think this stuff is a ticket to fame now, or just 'not that big of a deal' - that needs to stop.
Well written Russell.
RIP Amy.

1165 days ago


Russell, your tribute was touching and from the heart. I know a few people who should see it. Thank you Russell.

Carrie - didn't they make a movie about you?

1165 days ago

Harvey Levin's Sippy Cup    

He is a very gifted writer.

Since he is not funny at all I think he should turn to writing.

I had no clue he had a poetic soul behind all the non funny.

1165 days ago


Your words are powerful and I truly hope that many people will be inspired and pick up the phone for help. Thank you, Mr. Brand - you might have saved lives today.

1165 days ago


Awesome.... truly awesomely expressed.

For once TMZ has released a piece that resembles compassion.

1165 days ago


I agree with it. I've got loads of junkie friends and i don't view them as criminals. I'm ashamed to say that whilst i try my best to be there for them and do all i can for them, sometimes i don't listen to them, i don't mean listen to what there saying superficially, i mean REALLY listen to them.
I'm not one of the people who pretends that i know anything about serious drug addiction, but what i do know is that; these people don't need abuse, or to be jeered at or romanticised or criminalised. Russell's right, they simply need help. And it's sorta our duty to help our friends when they need us. Maybe we don't have the expertise to help them with the drugs themselves, but everyone has the ability to help people mend the reasons why they turn to drugs in the first place.
Don't get me wrong, i'm not writing this because of some kind of perverse need to feel as if i'm measure besides a celebrity. I'm writing this because i don't think people are focusing on the big issue's he's raised.
The bottom line is that change needs more than people to pity and feel sorry for others; making a real difference means changing our ideology. Whilst we must still enforce laws we must first recognise our own humanity. - If i ever became addicted to anything to that level i would like to think that someone would help, not just punish me for a mistake that has punished me already, and i know i may not want that help at the time but sooner or later i would. Sooner or later there is a moment when an addict sits down and his mind becomes filled with flashes of the past and of whats yet to come, it's filled with the faces of friends and family. Its in that moment, however short it may be, its that moment that progress has its best chance, seize it with everything you have and don't let go, because the long and short of it is; what you are seizing could well be your life.
Thats not to say that people can't change without that moment, its just a matter of support.
Russell's one hundred percent right. He knows better than most of us (me especially) what drug addiction can do. So i think it's time we all picked up a phone, or wrote an email to our government representatives, and showed them the way that things need to be done. This is our world, and that includes each and every one of us, junkies and all, and we all deserve our place and we all deserve our chance!
So don't sit here reading and typing messages that make you feel like you've done your duty, do something about it. Stop this happening to anyone else. Use what the world is famous for; MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
R.I.P Amy and R.I.P all victims of addiction. After all, she was a musical legend but we all come from the same road, and no one is more important than anyone else.
Cheers. I'm off to make a phone call to a man in a suit thats pretending to know what we want...why don't you?

1165 days ago


I was never a fan of Russell Brand until today. This was written from his heart,unlike other ones written for fame.

1165 days ago


Very well said. I was married to an addict with alcholic issues too. I so know what you mean when talking to them, they really are looking through to some where else.

Goodbye Amy!!

You will be missed!!

1165 days ago


Very well said. I was married to an addict with alcholic issues too. I so know what you mean when talking to them, they really are looking through to some where else.

Goodbye Amy!!

1165 days ago


This entire blog should be immortalized on a plaque and mounted above the door of EVERY AA and NA meeting place and rehab center. It should be read by the friends and family to every addict, praying that the message is clear and received. I am so very impressed by Russell's eloquence. THANK YOU, SIR.

1165 days ago


Excellent statement. Very impressive. Very true. Prayers for Amy's family and friends. Thank you Russell for your tribute. God bless you.

1165 days ago


Not a fan of Russel Brand but this letter is awesome and eloquently written. It's also true.
It starts by choice but slowly progresses to a mind altering sickness that a person can't escape. The lucky ones who get out will face temptation the rest of their lives.
Addicts are found in all social circles. Having lost a dear friend who battled drug and alcohol addiction for years, I know that call does come and It's terribly devastating when it does.

1165 days ago


Russell Brand, who would have thought. I have never taken much interest in you, as I am a 51 yr old grandma, but.......Thank you to your publicly posted letter about Amy, and addictions, as it will hit home with alot of people.
Others will read it and toss it out or shove it in a drawer but hopefully to pick up and read later when THEY are ready for help. Or for those friends who all posted who next time need to remember to STICK right next to that friend who has addictions, do NOT leave them alone, even to sleep. As much as they can and is reasonable, and get interventions, groups of friends that arent on drugs.

Thank you Russell and I now have a whole new respect for you young man, and may god bless you on your journey in life. Even though we often swerve off the right road I feel you will continue to find your safe way back to the right one.

A 51 yr old grandma

1165 days ago


That was beautiful.
I'm attending school for substance abuse counseling.
I sincerely want to help people.
I only wish someone could have helped Amy.
Rest in peace Amy Winehouse. May you find some sense of solitude.

1165 days ago


F Russell Grand he's just a wannbe, and never will be anything.. yes he has some B movies out, yea and I dont, but he will die before 35 from drugs/or AIDS.. cuz he has suck many...

1165 days ago
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