‘I cheated myself,
Like I knew I would,
I told you I was trouble,
You know that I’m no good ‘
Sad news this week that Amy Winehouse joined the infamous 27 Club of famous musicians who ended their lives almost before they truly began. „They will never grow old“ to paraphrase the lost souls of the Great War. Truly they never will. Who can imagine Hendrix without a frilled shirt and bell bottomed trousers? or Morrison without a lean, hungry look and leather trousers? Amy Winehouse will now forever be the girl with a bee hive on, and sadly in, her head. A crazy mixed up kid with a musical gift that was greater than she could carry.
Her death was also a frightening tribute to the power of the internet. Within two hours of the ‘rumours’ of her death I clicked on her name in Wikipedia to find the opening paragraph telling us she „WAS an english Soul Singer”. More disturbing, I discovered there was actually a website that had long ago come into existence to place bets on when Amy Winehouse would die. I hope the ‘lucky winner’ can listen to their prizewinning I-Pod without feeling like the sh*t that they really are.
Other thoughts and musicians came to mind when I heard about Amy too. My sister calling me into the living room early in 1986 to see the evening news on tv and hear that Phil Lynott had taken a step too far on what Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini referred to recently as ‘The death watch‘ -‘ people who were walking a tightrope and going further into the centre each day. Phil didn‘t make it to the safety of the other end, neither did Amy, or Jimi.
I thought too of a recent concert. Of a musician teetering on the edge of the Museumsplatz stage supported by a microphone and 3000 cheering fans. Of someone who had survived so often that perhaps he believed he always would. Of the late, great, Willy DeVille on that same stage, seemingly coming back from the edge. Off of the ‘Death Watch‘.
On a Blogpost musician Candye Kane points out that the press thrived on Amy’s problems and Winehouse in return, points out Candye, “did exactly what was expected of her”. Similarly, Phil Lynott made a record once called ‘Living out somebody elses dream’ – It reflects on the pressure of a ‘Star’ to behave the way their public expects. Drugs and alchohol are what we ‘expect’ real rockstars to ‘do’.
Some have made it all the way across the tightrope of course. Eric Clapton is a famous example of someone who realised magic didn’t come out of a bottle. Johnny Cash made it too, and we and he were rewarded by some of the best music he ever created with the American Recordings series. There lies the tragedy of course. How much more was there to hear from Hendrix, from Lynott, from Morrison, from Amy Winehouse? „I pleaded with him not to join that stupid club“ remembered Kurt Cobains mother. Jones, Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison and now Winehouse. They will never grow old, nor will they make a bad record as they do so. Sadly, nor will they make another great one.