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Amy Winehouse was the latest in a series of famous musical talents to binge themselves into a premature grave. It is said by police that the cause of her demise is “as yet unexplained,” but it does not take a genius to infer that she died of a drugs overdose or some drug-related condition. Other talented artists to have walked down this clichéd path of sex, drugs and rock n roll include cult icons such as Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones. So, how does Amy Winehouse rank among these bastions of the ‘live fast, die young’ ideology?
The presiding view of Amy Winehouse’s death is that it is a huge loss to the music industry and that she will go down in history as one of the all-time greats in terms of solo artists. I’m indifferent to her music on the whole but I can’t help but believe that her death and the widespread enshrining of her musical talents will lead to a distorted view of her in the future.
Two albums that sold well and were critically acclaimed does not constitute greatness. Greatness is about standing the test of time and being consistently at a high level of acclaim. Moreover, her impact on music was nowhere near as large as that of Hendrix and Cobain. Instead I understand that Winehouse’s epitaph will read as one of aspiring to embody the ‘live fast, die young’ philosophy, but not reaching a legendary status enough to warrant acclaim as an all-time great.
Indeed it is wasted talent but any human being virtually committing suicide is tragically wasted talent. Many argue that Amy Winehouse’s drug problem was not of her own making. A lot of blame has been attached to Blake Fielder-Civil, her former husband, but unless he attacked and forced her wholly against her will to adopt a lifestyle plagued by drugs then I’m afraid that Miss Winehouse simply has no excuse.
She could have sought help, she could have quit or she simply could have said no to drugs in the first place. Many artists handle the adulation of the masses without drugs. Moreover, perhaps as a compromise, there are countless examples of famed musical artists dabbling in drugs in relative moderation and not killing themselves, The Beatles in the mid-60s as a prime example. John Lennon developed a heroin addiction in the late 60s and the overcoming of this inspired the single ‘Cold Turkey.’
Lennon was wise enough to recognise his impending mortality due to this addiction and overcame it by going cold turkey. Albeit unpleasant, it’s a far sight better than Amy Winehouse’s method. For a more up to date example, Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme developed an alcohol addiction as the band became more and more popular. Granted he is not as famous as Winehouse and probably never will be, but it would have been very easy for him to spiral into a hole of alcoholism and depression. However, he sought help by looking inwardly rather than seek attention from the media by looking outwards.
Why then is Amy Winehouse worthy of our pity? What kind of example does this set to young singers and undiscovered talent? Drug culture should not be glorified, enshrined or even tolerated. This selfish behaviour is worthy of our scorn, not our tears and tributes. Amy Winehouse pressed her own self-destruct button and no matter how we phrase it she died because of her own stupidity. The dangers of heavy drugs aren’t exactly a myth and I believe it is imperative that society only shows sympathy to those that seek help and not to those who show a total disregard for their problems and their long reaching impact.
Amy Winehouse’s death was nothing short of suicide. Rather than enshrine her career in glory and ignore her blatant drug use, we should condemn her dark private life and abysmal attitude towards rectifying her wrongs.