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Russell Brand's Touching Tribute To Amy Winehouse

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Russell Brand Tributes Amy Winehouse

We've all been feeling the blues over Amy Winehouse's premature death.

From Kelly Osbourne to Khloe Kardashian, celebrities relayed their thoughts and feelings via Twitter, but there was one celebrity who went above and beyond in penning a memorial for the late talent.

Russell Brand, who knew and cherished Amy before the fame, used one of his best outlets–the written word–to pay tribute to his dear friend.

In the touching letter, he extends his memories as well as his hopes:

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.

If you would like to read the rest of his touching letter, click the jump.

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 fucking 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.

[Image via Robert Wallace/WENN.]

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39 comments to “Russell Brand's Touching Tribute To Amy Winehouse”



  1. 1

    I wonder what it feels like to know genius and then be married to Katy Perry. LOLZ!!!



  2. 2

    Enough, Perez!!! You are not "feeling the blues"!!!! You kicked her when she was down - publically - every chance you got - stop insulting her family and her real friends by acting like you cared now.
    This was copied from YOUR ARCHIVES - page 7 -
    "Thank goodness!
    Rumors started to circulate yesterday that Amy Winehouse maybe pregnant with her first child.
    This was disturbing news on many levels, but mostly because we were sure that her ovaries were too gin-soaked to be of any use.
    Regardless, our minds were put at ease this afternoon when a representative for Wino confirmed that she is not pregnant and that the reports are "completely not true".
    And the world takes a collective sigh of relief."
    How can ANYONE say Perez EVER acted like her friend???????



  3. 3

    Russel Brand = CLASSY.



  4. 4

    Re: StinkyPerez – I'm not sure why that piece from the archives offends you. She was in no condition to have a healthy pregnancy. I'm sure Amy's friends and family were relieved she was not pregnant.

    As for Russell's letter. I found it quite touching.



  5. 5

    Well said, Russell.



  6. 6

    A lot of people insult Russell Brand, but I'm not sure why; if you've ever heard him in interviews, even if you don't agree with him, you can tell he's a genuine person with a high level of thinking. I was waiting for his response after I heard of Winehouse's passing. He probably understood her better than most people because he went through the same struggles of addiction. So happy he wrote this, it's beautiful.



  7. 7

    It's true. Mario very cruelly kicked Amy when she was down.



  8. 8

    Fatboy used to block haters but soon tealized that there was no one left to give him the much needed clicks.

    Any one see the SNL skit about hair plugs made of pubes then look at that mop of plugs on pedo's head



  9. 9

    Russell Brand's piece on his blog about Amy is heartfelt, truthful, and fearlessly exposes what only addicts, recovering and active, feel in their quietest moments when they have a glimmer of clarity. That is something to read, Mario may feel some sincere feelings towards Amy, but he is too corrupted in his alter-ego on this site for me to take anything he says as anything but profit generating gossip fodder.
    -
    Healthy 27 year olds do not die randomly. She may not have OD'd but drugs and addictions were her downfall. Same as Heath, and so many others. Your respiratory system is very sensitive, jumping up and down saying she died from drugs and making it seem like a acute OD reaction that caused death is causing people to miss the point.
    -
    For Amy addiction was evil, and I am sorry that it triumphed in her life.
    -
    Sorry for the copy and paste on the two open posts, but I didn't realize this was being posted as I was typing the other. And Mario, I am over poking you in the eye… I've said my piece about your fickle justified profiteering ways. Sincerity is admirable, to become sincere after your past history will take a hell of a lot more evidence and work than going on Ellen because bullying finally hit home to you. Work at it, go to therapy, and be fearlessly honest for the sake of becoming enlightened. It will do you a world of good.



  10. 10

    Wonderfully written. From someone who lost her father to addiction this past March, I can relate to the fact that there will always be a phone call and unfortunately, that phone call is often not a good one. RIP Amy Winehouse and all the others who have lost their lives to addiction. May you all be at peace.



  11. 11

    Like you gave a shit about her Mario you fucking hypocrite. you used her addiction then to sell your stupid blog with nothing but insults, now your using her death to do the same thing acting like you give a shit your pathetic. Re: POPSCIDICTATOR – # N1



  12. 12

    Re: rosebud99 – Of course she was in no condition to have children! But IF Perez was the friend he is now claiming to be, he would never have written all of those hateful things, in such hateful ways. Russell Brand, for instance, never took to the internet about Amy in any negative way - why? Because he was her friend. Perez always does this. He's latches on for fame's sake (like he's doing with Gaga now) and does what it convenient for HIM at the time. I don't want to hear "it's his job, he's a blogger" - that's bullshit. He edits Gaga's crap all the time. He destroyed Amy on this site and now he's pretending it never happened. Shame on you Perez!



  13. 13

    Re: POPSCIDICTATOR – I'd rather be married to Katy Perry than Amy Winehouse.



  14. 14

    Re: rosebud99 – The manner in which it was written was hurtful and unnecessary. I think that is everyone's point of the hypocrisy.



  15. 15

    Re: VinnyD – You missed the point, goober. Lol!

  16. chiro says – reply to this


    16

    I'm sorry but where were these celebrities when she was alive?! They're all so quick to jump on the mourning bandwagon in death but why didn't they reach out more when she was alive. When was the last time they talk to her?! I not ultimately no one is to blame but herself BUT their fakeness is nauseating!!!!!!!



  17. 17

    So well put by a person who was once addicted. I hope his words saved at least one person who may have read them today.



  18. 18

    Lovely letter.

    Perez, you still don't run a spell check on your posts? Do you even read the comments? You use this website to make a living but you still don't bother to make sure it looks and reads professional? It isn't just every now and then, it is almost every post.

    It is becoming more and more apparent that you are a celeb whore. Kick them while they are down and ride with them while they are up top. You are adding insult to injury by declaring your friendship and love for someone who you used for website hits at their lowest.



  19. 19

    Re: chiro – ditto.



  20. 20

    Re: POPSCIDICTATOR – LOL. ha, true.



  21. 21

    I'm in tears…brilliant commentary from a unique perspective. Just lost a young friend to a heroin overdose. Those close to him didn't even know he was using. He was still overweight. Still going to work each day, still coming home at night. All routines were the same with friends, family and work. We're still trying to figure out when it started and who he started doing this with. I need a tissue…peace



  22. 22

    Re: chiro – Just because we don't read about it doesn't mean Russell and Kelly were not sincere and consistent friends. If people could change the course of an addict's path there would be less deaths and more people in recovery. There is a big difference between an "enabling fair weather" friends, and loving true friends and family that are unable to create a true intervention for a struggling addict. People look at Britney as an example of what should have been done, but that is more of an intervention for bi-polar that crossed into overuse of drugs vs. addiction that is a primary driver of your emotional state. Read Russell's words carefully, the call he talks about is very much a living fear among an addict's loved ones .

  23. jham says – reply to this


    23

    That was very well written and very true.

  24. jham says – reply to this


    24

    I'm changing my opinion on Russell Brand



  25. 25

    Despite the fact that I think the media is handling Amy's death with kid gloves (I know there's no need to disrespect the dead, but let's not pretend in life she wasn't a mess) that make their condolences awkward at best, Russell has been so genuinely moved by this unfortunate event. I love how he expresses himself, he's so respectful. I'm really glad he was able to haul himself out of the horrible world of drugs. If Amy had been helped, we wouldn't be mourning wasted talent. If only she'd given us a sign….



  26. 26

    Russell has a lot of insight
    and a poetic soul
    he's highly intellingent
    with a wonderful sense of humor
    can see why Katy fell in love with him



  27. 27

    Addiction is not a disease. It's a condition. I'm sick of 12 step true believers taking over this discussion.



  28. 28

    everyone always Talks about Russell Brand like he is less than dirt, highly unintelligent, and so on. But When they hear him really speak, they change their minds and gain respect for him. What you usually see from him is called humor. He's being funny. The real Russell though, is clearly an intelligent, articulate, and caring man. I have always loved reading what he writes or hearing what he says. It is enjoyable far beyond his British accent. I am also very glad he is staying clean and sober. Good for him.



  29. 29

    Wow, well spoken. Take some tips from this guy Perez.



  30. 30

    Re: POPSCIDICTATOR – Haha excellent point!



  31. 31

    He is surprisingly eloquent.



  32. 32

    Re: POPSCIDICTATOR – Okay, that's just funny.



  33. 33

    Well said Russell.



  34. 34

    Re: kittendom
    addiction is a disease…. its not something that you decided to become… yes you choose whatever the poison but it becomes much more than just a high every now it soon engulfs your entire life… most people don't seek help because they don't see what they are doing to themselves or their families… my father was an addict and i lost him back in january. if ppl would stop looking at it as a gross part of our society and reach out to help instead of automatically judging ppl… i hated seeing what the addiction did to my father… he was never the father i wanted or needed.. instead he was more worried about his next high… addiction brings down the entire family it hurts everyone it affects the addict much like cancer… slowly eating their life away and slowly killing them…. i loved brands' letter it somes up so much of what ppl choose not to see and he's right addiction is a curable disease and it would make more sense to help them then it would to put them in jail and it would cost us less



  35. 35

    WHOAA 0.0 that ishhh long ,I could neer to that even for a school paper



  36. 36

    Re: Geat real – Heath Ledger was murdered theres something strange about his death,he was face down on his pillow too.He suffered the crow curse just like brandon lee and died at 28.While Amy suffered the club 27 curse



  37. 37

    The letter is ok, it's good but not "genius" as some people call it. It's focus on addicts , I wanted to read something more personal maybe the real Amy ,who was she when she was sober, guess she and Russell weren't that close



  38. 38

    I like Russel a lot, he is empathetic, very honest and extremely intelligent. I'm sorry for his loss.



  39. 39

    Re: chiro – How do you know they didn't? Its only now she is dead it was made more obvious…just saying…