AMY WINEHOUSE- In Memoriam
BACK TO BLACK
When Kurt Cobain died at age 27, his mother, Wendy, said, “He’s gone and joined that stupid club.”
The 27 Club. Members include Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, and Janis Joplin. The deaths of these stars shocked many. But few were surprised at the latest 27 Club inductee: Amy Winehouse.
In the 2009 documentary Saving Amy, the singer’s mother, Janis, said, “I realize my daughter could be dead within the year. We’re watching her kill herself, slowly.” Her father, Mitch, admitted that she’d been “close to death twice.” Amy herself seemed indifferent or oblivious. “I don’t think I’m going to survive that long,” she’d told her mother.
With equal resignation, her predecessors in the 27 Club predicted early ends for themselves.
“I’m gonna be dead in two years,” declared Morrison matter-of-factly at 25.
“I’m not sure I will live to be 28,” said Hendrix
“I’m never going to make it to 30,” predicted Cobain.
A few years before the release of Saving Amy, whenwillamywinehousedie.com was launched. The winner was promised an iPad. Meanwhile, The New York Observer ran a feature, “Amy Winehouse: The Next Tragic Talent?” and Salon predicted her early demise “given the ferocious soul singer’s combination of youth, chutzpah, talent, substance abuse and bad taste in men.”
The man in question was Blake Fielder-Civil, the husband who divorced the star in 2009 and went to prison. Amy called Blake the male version of herself. She had his name tattooed over her heart, he had hers tattooed behind his ear. Amy’s parents blamed Blake for her escalating drug habit, were alarmed by their well-publicized bloody fights, and feared the two might commit suicide.
“The whole marriage was based on doing drugs,” Amy told an interviewer after the split.
The relationships of other 27 Club stars were equally violent, consumptive, and drugged-out: Cobain’s with Courtney Love, Morrison’s with Pamela Courson, Janis Joplin’s with Seth Morgan.
Amy and Blake couldn’t live with each other, and they couldn’t live without each other. Soon after the divorce, they got re-engaged. Then Amy fell in love with actor, Josh Bowman, and said, “I don’t need drugs.”
Other men came and went, dope and booze filled the vacuum. But she sang “No no no” in “Rehab” because “I’m gonna lose my baby, so I always keep the bottle near.” She had no illusions about where she was headed: “I’ma O.D.’til I’m in peace like Anna Nicole.”
The year before her death, Harper’s Bazaar asked the star if she was happy. “I don’t know what you mean,” she replied. “I’ve got a very nice boyfriend. He’s very good to me.” Then, asked if she had unfulfilled ambitions, she replied, “Nope! If I died tomorrow, I would be a happy girl.”
The nice boyfriend was British film director, Reg Traviss. He broke up with Amy just before the launch of her “comeback” European tour. The singer was inconsolable, according to the Daily Mail. Though she had told Glamour that she had been clean for almost three years, she finally said yes to rehab and checked into London’s Priory Clinic.
A week later, she staggered out onto stage in Belgrade, mistaking it for Athens, Greece. She told 20,000 fans she was “the happiest girl in the world.” She mumbled deliriously, forgot the words to her songs, and got booed.
The local press called the performance a “scandal” and a “disaster.” “She is far from being a queen,” wrote the Serbian defense minister. “She’s more like a patient of a rehabilitation clinic for drugs and an alcohol addict.” The rest of the tour was cancelled. Loveless and alone, Amy Winehouse returned to London “to sort herself out.”
The star was said to have scored cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and ketamine the day before her lifeless body was found in her bed at home. Her friends told the Sunday Mirror she died from a ‘bad’ ecstasy pill mixed with alcohol. An autopsy was performed, but was inconclusive regarding the exact cause of death.
“I tread a troubled track, my odds are stacked. I’ll go back to black,” she sang in the song that catapulted her to fame.
“Maybe my audiences can enjoy my music more if they think I’m destroying myself,” said her 27 Club predecessor and soul-sister, Janis Joplin.