This afternoon I was lying sick in bed, tapping away on the computer, briefly noting the tweets flashing at the top of my screen, when one made me look up in disbelief: “Amy Winehouse reported dead in her home at age 27.” I quickly went online to see if the rumor was true and couldn’t find anything. For several minutes, there was nothing reported, so I thought it was another of those Twitter fake death rumors. Then Huffington Post released an update reporting her death, and then all the news outlets began to follow their lead. Surprisingly, CNN was slow to pick up the story, probably because they were so engaged in the whole Norway tragedy..quite understandably. However, the rumor was quickly confirmed.
And then the horrible tweets started to appear. Many tweeps started saying her death is no surprise. Many called it predictable. Many referred to her song about rehab as foreshadowing what was to come. Many seemed to think she almost deserved to go to the grave. I had to literally abandon Twitter for the day.
I have just returned from London, where I toured the London Museum of Jewish Life. Amy Winehouse was prominently featured as a Jewish Londoner who had made it. Featured on the same wall as Marc Bolan and Frankie Vaughan, she was clearly considered a super star on her home town. That goes for saying, she was a super star all over the world.
“Back to Black” is an incredible album. Just think: she made it age 22. As a singer, she had soul. Since its 2006 release, I’d been eagerly awaiting her follow-up album. I’m so sorry that she won’t live to make it. Her voice was strong and and reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin. I have never stopped listening to the album and adore the words in all her songs including “Love is a Losing Game,” the rhythm in “Tears Dry on Their Own” and the soulfulness in “Wake Up Alone.” Listening to her music will never be the same.
Back to those horrible tweets. Yes, Amy Winehouse had problems. Can you imagine trying to recover from addiction publicly? She had no privacy, no peace. She became famous overnight, and much of the time, she acted like she didn’t want the fame. Her trips to rehab, her arrests, walking off the stage mid-performance.. she never really regained her footing after her Grammy win.
So, please have compassion. Amy Winehouse has a family who are in pain right now. Her dad, Mitch, was en route to NYC to play at the Blue Note to promote his new album. He recently stated in the NYT that he owed his music career entirely to her. I can’t imagine how he’s feeling now. No parent should ever have a child go before they do.
Now Winehouse is apparently joining the “27 club” for dying at the young age of 27 (how weird is that?). She’s joining the ranks of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison. Imagine how different the music industry would have been if they’d all lived. I feel the same way about Amy Winehouse. She had a lot more music inside of her, waiting to be produced. But it never will be.