Amy Winehouse, 1983-2011: reflecting on a death that comes as no surprise


It’s been a longtime since we had a legit musician deathwatch. Aside from perhaps The Libertines' Pete Doherty (who hasn't quite reached water-cooler talk and morbid $1-box betting squares here in stateside workplaces), you’d probably have to go back to grunge pariah Kurt Cobain to find someone who people fought over to put in their dead pool.

Looking at her concert late last month in Belgrade, it’s retrospectively clear that was AMY WINEHOUSE'S overdose-in-Rome moment. She delivered an outlandishly awful performance that made David Lee Roth’s stumbleina turn at the 1983 US Festival look like Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special.

Words were forgotten and misplaced as the bobbleheaded singer swayed to and fro, propped up by an embarrassed backing band left to carry the slack while recalled This is Spinal Tap by thanking the audience with “Hello Athens!” Boos rained down, the remaining dates of the European tour were canceled, and it was back to what police sources in London have termed “a drink and drugs binge” which ended in her death today.

Winehouse becomes the newest member of the infamous 27 Club, joining the likes of Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, D. Boon, and Brian Jones in dropping at such a young age.

No one is really surprised by today's news, and truth be told, other than providing fodder for the UK tabloids, Winehouse outlived her talent. The incredibly-voiced soul singer dropped a landmark album five years ago, and has done nothing musically relevant since. She became a punchline for late-night talk show hosts, was caught on tape Kate Moss- and Ricky Hatton-style ingesting drugs, allegedly crack, snapped by paparazzi swaggering around London bloodied and bruised with her then husband, who was all scratched up himself. Another time she was spotted wandering English streets barefoot in just a bra and jeans -– in December. Multiple prospective tour dates have been scrapped around the world, including a 2009 slot at Coachella when Winehouse was denied entry into the States.

When it got to the point that Keith Richards stated “She should get her act together,” people started scrambling to get a jump on penning an obituary. Now we’re left with people tweeting unoriginal shit like “Amy Winehouse shouldn’t have said ‘no, no, no” in reference to “Rehab,” a massive hit and a Grammy winner, but the weakest track from Back to Black, a borderline masterpiece buoyed by the production of Mark Ronson. (For a now-she’s-dead bonus, check out the sorta-hidden remixed "Rehab" “You Know I'm No Good” on the U.S. version of the release that features Ghostface Killah, well, killing it).

Winehouse was on track to be this generation’s Billie Holiday for a brief moment in time, but for whatever reason, she couldn’t do it. There wasn’t going to be a recovery, a return or a successful intervention. It was just a matter of time before she was found in an eternal state of being out of commission. That time is now, sadly, leaving the gaze to settle next on the aforementioned Babyshamble and sometime Libertine Doherty, a frequent partying pal of Winehouse. You’re known by the company you keep -- but it’s ok Pete, because I’m here to tell you there’s something else: the afterworld.

Let’s go crazy. Let’s get nuts. RIP Amy Winehouse, even though we all saw it coming. 

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