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Amy Winehouse

August 17, 2011

No need to follow her career closely to see this coming. Only those who thought, implausibly, that her public image was faked up, failed to predict Miss Winehouse.

Her voice was great, but men and drugs let her down. Her jazz loving, taxi-driver father left home when she was a child, only to come back into her life when she was famous, and Blake Fielder-Civil, her on-off boyfriend and husband-for-a-bit,was little better.

Her tough exterior may have helped with difficult boyfriends, but the little girl inside was never strong enough to cope with the poisons she ingested. Cigarettes gave her emphysema, alcohol made her fall over, and the illegal stuff had worse effects. Soon a near death-cult developed around her, fuelled by funeral videos and rumours of wrist-cutting parties. Her biggest hit single, “Rehab”, a celebration of fatalistic refusal of addiction treatment, became almost a personal anthem, and Karl Lagerfeld, to his shame, even developed a fashion line around her, based on sickly drug-addled girls.

Even if the cigarettes improved her voice, the rest of her troubles did her no good at all. In the eight years after her debut album “Frank”, she managed only one other, her masterpiece “Back to Black”. Although she won awards and sold many records, for the last few years of her life she was much more famous for her ever-enlarging beehive hair-do, love life and drug-taking. Like Janis Joplin, another talented singer with a memorable voice and problem hair, the bad end came at the young age of 27.

Some pundits blame her managers for not looking after her better and others the paparazzi for pestering her, but that’s hardly fair; the rest of us bought the papers and the fashions, and ultimately no-one forced the drugs on her. She sniffed, injected and swallowed them herself, bought and paid for.

“Back to Black”, and “Love is a Losing Game” are my favourites.    Here’s a poem.

She partied hard to hide her fear
Sniffed and injected whatever was near
With her painted eyes and giant beehive
No-one thought she would long survive

Beaten and dumped by hopeless men
She fell off the wagon again and again
Her wonderful voice did buy her fame
But love remained a Losing Game

Some say she had a death wish,
Some blame the paparazzi
Surely the men who sold her crack
Knew she would end it, Back to Black
But whatever you think, you must agree
She went too soon, for you and me

Jim Thornton   From AO Deadpool August 2011

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