TRIBUTE (1983-2011): No, no, no

Amy Winehouse joins the legendary ‘27 club’ of great non-conformist music and dying too young
Akash Bisht Delhi  
 
They tried to make me go to rehab but I said ‘no, no, no’
Yes I’ve been black but when I come
back you’ll know know know
I ain’t got the time and if my daddy
thinks I’m fine
He’s tried to make me go to rehab but I won’t go go go…
 
True to her poetry, even the rehabs couldn’t save this neo-soul, husky, sultry, smoky voice that crooned about the dark side of the moon. A soulful reminder of yesteryears, she was like the tide and the wind who took singing to a new jazzy level. A vocal powerhouse, her comparisons with Janis Joplin, Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holiday were a musical ritual. ‘Soul apart’ from her modern-day counterparts, Amy was a revelation. She defied stereotypes and appealed to the young and the old.
 
Dead at 27 for reasons unknown-known, Amy’s short prophetic career was overshadowed by drug use and alcoholism. Did she really predict she will die at 27? Tabloids portrayed her as an obsessive drug addict on the ravaged trajectory of self-destruction, but she still managed to persuade with her voice and true-to-life lyrics. Despite the depression and the drugs, such was her magical prowess that her second album, Back to Black, became Britain’s best selling album of 2007. The album reached the number two spot in the US, making her the only British female artist in history to register such an electric appeal. 
 
Back to Black transformed her from a jazz phenomenon to an R&B (Rhythm and Blues) artist, and helped her score six Grammy nominations and five wins. The feat made her the second female artist to win five awards in a night, including Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. She is the first British female to have won these many Grammys in a year. She got rave reviews in the US, where she continued to top the music charts. Her trans-Atlantic appeal was never seen before, especially for an English non-conformist. 
 
Despite the critical acclaim and commercial success, Amy’s life was devastated by alcoholism and drug addiction. Morbid tabloids fed on her tragedy with vicarious viciousness. They eliminated her achievements, her loneliness, her struggles; even her instinctive sensitivity and genius.
 
After her first album, Frank, Amy met her future husband Blake Feilder-Civil, who introduced her to drugs. A few months later, the relationship came to an end. Amy went into deep depression. She poured her grief into her songs. Back to Black was born. 
After Frank, the girl-next-door transformed into a rock-n-roll diva with an armful of tattoos, a beehive hairdo, and an anarchic, destructive streak. Not only was she a famous pop icon, but also a muse of fashion designers across the globe. Her angular, dark, junkie look became fashion’s latest anti-statement. 
 
Soon after her sad, solitary, sudden death in her London apartment, her mother announced that she knew this day was inevitable… “It was only a matter of time”. Media reports suggest a cocktail of drugs could have hastened the end.
 
Dead at 27, Amy joins the infamous-famous ‘27 club’ that has several great music icons: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan. These sublimely talented magicians had some unique traits in common — genius, originality, restlessness, recklessness, rebellion, drugs and alcohol abuse. They were epical success stories, they were too young, and they sometimes just didn’t know how to handle it all.
 
It’s a repetitive, serial tragedy. They were too young and too beautiful to die. And they deserved to live.
Like Amy. Who sang: no no no…   

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: AUGUST 2011

Comments

Forever Amy...

Most of the worst enemies of humankind have had one thing in common -- they all lived to a ripe, old age. Did Amy Winehouse die 'too' young? Is there an optimum age for dying? So why raise eyebrows if an amazing artist and outstanding human being -- one of the shining lights in this dark, dark world -- dies at 27? And how does dying from a drug overdose make one a worse, or more 'troubled', person than the dozens who die every day of boredom, conformity, workaholism and upwardly mobile, life-sapping ambition?