In the wake of the death of musician Amy Winehouse, 27, many fans and celebrities have struggled to find the words to properly acknowledge the singer's legacy as well as the sad circumstances surrounding her tragic battle with drug addiction. Comedian Russell Brand, whose reputation is for being zany and decidedly un-serious, might seem an unlikely voice to turn to, but his post on his web site about Winehouse, reprinted in the Guardian, is a touching account of not only how well he knew the late singer but also how well he understood her plight.

Brand, who is a recovering addict, wrote about "the disease of addiction" and how it inevitably results in either recovery or death. The Arthur star, who is married to recording artist Katy Perry, said he knew Winehouse "for years," ever since she was "just some twit in a pink satin jacket shuffling round bars with mutual friends."

"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," Brand said. Eloquently elaborating on how he knew Winehouse was an addict, Brand wrote: "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 unignorable veil…. They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they're looking through you to somewhere else they'd rather be."

Brand said that while he'd met Winehouse early on in her career, it was not until she became famous that he heard her music. When he finally did, almost by accident, he was awe-struck. "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," he said. "She was a f***ing genius."

Brand concluded his letter to speak up about society's role in criminalizing addicts when they should be rehabilitated. While praising Winehouse's talent he also alluded to the peculiar significance of her age at her death. "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." Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were all 27 years old when they died drug-related deaths.


  • Sydney Ramsden
    Sydney Ramsden on

    Of all the celebrity responses to Amy's death that I've read, this is definitely the most genuine and heartfelt.

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