The music world was rocked on Saturday afternoon by the news that British singer and tabloid fixture Amy Winehouse had passed away in her London home. Results of an autopsy may be released as early as today, and authorities were only saying that the cause of death was unknown. She was 27.
Her death adds her to the list of rock stars who never made it past that fateful age. She joins Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, and Kurt Cobain in the "27 Club," another sad reminder of the excesses of fame, and the power of drug addiction.
Known for her 2003 debut Frank and Grammy-winning 2006 smash hit album Back To Black, Winehouse battled her drug and alcohol demons publicly in the British rags, running in and out of rehabilitation facilities and looking haggard in most paparazzi shots.
Along the way, her music took a back seat to the sideshow that had become her life, sort of like parlor game fodder for those who didn't quite understand that addiction was a disease. In the wake of her death on Saturday, the jokes were endless, and the dark humor sometimes went beyond the usual jabs in the face of death and into heartlessness. The attacks in Norway the day before on Friday and the rising death toll took a backseat to Winehouse's death for a few hours on Saturday.
Yes, we all prayed that this wouldn't happen and that she would have somehow win her fight go on to tour and record again as survivor with a great story to to tell and more than enough life experience to make great music again. But with each new meltdown, including the one back in June where she appeared drunk onstage in Belgrade, hope slowly faded into a sort of bemused weariness at her exploits.
If she was an American pop star, she might have been almost beaten into sobriety a la Britney Spears, and thrived in a weird, plastic way, but that wasn't the case. It was a slow, shattering fall for Winehouse, with everyone involved seemingly not taking a hands-on gruff approach to a friend slowly and publicly committing suicide with crack cocaine, heroin, and booze.
Rocks Off feels guilty now about making light of it back in 2007, but we were young and dumb, and fond of easy targets. Especially when he himself and some of the most dear friends in his life have battled, and some lost, the fight with drugs and alcohol. Some people are perhaps not long for this world, and while they are here, we just have to appreciate the gifts they hold, and Winehouse had a titanic, bluesy, jazzy, and mournful voice inside her.
On Saturday night at their tour stop in Minneapolis, U2 dedicated "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of" to Winehouse. Her peers and friends in the music industry took to social media and Twitter to express their anger, sadness and regrets in the wake of the announcement that she had passed. We present of them of here in the next few pages, plus a collection of ten of our favorite Winehouse cuts, including a her cover of Sam Cooke's "Cupid."
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