Comedian and former drug addict Russell Brand today paid a lengthy written tribute to Amy Winehouse, saying addiction should be treated as a potentially fatal disease.
Brand met her on the Camden pub scene a number of years ago, and said at first he thought she was “just some twit in a pink satin jacket shuffling round bars”.
He said when he spoke to her she was “sweet and peculiar but most of all vulnerable”.
By chance Brand saw her perform with Paul Weller at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London, and had an epiphany.
In the piece posted on his website he wrote: “Entering the space I saw Amy on stage with Weller and his band; and then the awe. The awe that envelops when witnessing a genius. From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness.
“That twerp, all eyeliner and lager dithering up Chalk Farm Road under a back-combed barnet, the lips that I’d only seen clenching a fishwife fag and dribbling curses now a portal for this holy sound.”
Brand has given frank accounts of his battle to overcome drug addiction, and said loved ones will always fear getting a phone call with the worst news possible.
At the time he met Winehouse, he himself had not yet got clean, and he said: “Winehouse and I shared an affliction, the disease of addiction.”
In the piece Brand accused the media of being more interested in “tragedy than talent”, and therefore said they focused more on her personal battles than her musical career.
He went on: “Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death.
“Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticised, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today.
“We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. Not all addicts have Amy’s incredible talent. Or Kurt’s (Cobain) or Jimi’s (Hendrix) or Janis’s (Joplin), 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.”