This weekend we got the news that bluesy-pop singer Amy Winehouse has died at age 27. While the immediate cause of death is not known, speculation that her rampant heavy drug use came into play are probably not far off. Her drug use and many trips to hospitals, making her song Rehab all-too-biographical, are better known than her songs at this point, as her 15 minutes of actual music fame passed nearly five years ago. Unfortunately, to teens today, she is known as a drunken drug addict with an ironically titled song from years ago.
Sadly, anyone who is surprised that Amy Winehouse succumbed so young hasn’t kept track of her since … well, since before ‘Back to Black’. That album – easily her biggest hit – was nearly a casualty of the trainwreck of her life choices. Producer Mark Ronson somehow managed to keep her focused and got the album done. And it is a solid album, if not as great as the sales and might suggest. There is much mimicry of 60’s soul and R&B … but without much soul, and a very uneven quality to her vocals even by her second album. Winehouse had talent and potential, but squandered it on a life of drugs and indulgence.
Some have added her name to the so-called ‘curse of 27’. And while it might sound mean-spirited, that whole thing is just silly – as was the dead at 35 group that included folks like Charlie Parker and Jaco Pastorius. It equate age and importance in a way that is meaningless. I think that we can all agree that WAY too many artists have died way too young … and entirely too often it has been based on self-destructive tendencies.
But enough about that – the bottom line is that Amy Winehouse was a talented singer whose self-destructive behavior limited her ability to make music, and ultimately cost her life. It is tragic when anyone so young dies, and is a reminder of the vagaries of drugs, alcohol and addiction.
Here is Amy Winehouse singing her hit single Rehab:
Oh, and a final note: apparently Microsoft used her death as a great opportunity to push people to go buy her stuff on their Zune store! As noted, a real class move.