Amy Winehouse was found dead Saturday July 23, 2011 at her London home at the tender age of 27. It’s always a sad thing when a talented musician has their life cut tragically short. It’s a stark contrast writing this memoriam compared to a musician who had a full, rich life like Clarence Clemons.
If ever there was a musician who had their addictions and failures chronicled in the press it was Amy Winehouse. Reading about her slide into addiction and subsequent stints in rehab has been sad for anyone that is aware of her talent as a singer and a songwriter. I’m sure nobody will be surprised if the cause of death is found to be an overdose of drugs, alcohol or both.
Amy was blessed with a unique voice and enough talent to write some decent songs. She also created a very unique look with her beehive hairdo and retro-sailor tattoos. Her live performances could be very strong when she was in full possession of her skills and not hindered by alcohol or other substances. Amy Winehouse was a musician and performer with a lot of potential.
As with any artist who’s life ends at a tragically young age the question will always remain “how good could she have been?” With a case like Amy’s it’s even harder for fans and scholars of music because we don’t know how much of her talent and skill that we got to see was hindered by drugs and alcohol. The question becomes “how good could she have been had she cleaned up?” as well as “how good could she have become if she had lived?”.
I’ve heard the argument that the drugs and alcohol helped to fuel her creative drive. In my experience as a musician for the past 30-years I have never seen anyone who wasn’t held back by drugs and alcohol when it came to creative artistry. Even something as basic as playing your guitar becomes more difficult when slowed by drugs and alcohol. I agree that Amy created good subject material for her songs because of her substance abuse as witnessed by her hit “Rehab” but I just do not believe that the substance abuse helped her in realizing the full potential of her talent.
I’m sure Amy Winehouse will be somewhat deified a-la-Curt Cobain for the small body of work she left behind. As for me, I will always feel sad that a musician with so much potential was never able and now never will be able to reach her full abilities. May you rest in peace Amy Winehouse.