“It’s not/What you thought/When you first began it/You got/What you want/Now you can hardly stand it though/By now you know/It’s not going to stop/It’s not going to stop/It’s not going to stop/’Til you wise up” Wise Up – Aimee Mann
Those lyrics by Aimee Mann aren’t meant as a judgement, I should say right at the start, even though the tone of this post might come across as judgemental. I heard the news about Amy Winehouse this afternoon and was incredibly sad because it’s so predictable and so heartbreaking that yet another talented, tormented young star has been killed by drugs at the age of just 27. And it makes you wonder when musicians and film stars are going to wise up and see that it really isn’t worth experimenting with hard drugs.
Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and now Amy Winehouse are the big names in the 27 Club, musicians who died either from drug overdoes or at the very least had their short lives wrecked by drugs. Others, like Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, survived but were still damaged by their experimentations with the hard stuff. Did it help inspire their creative juices? Did it ease their psychological pain? Did they think it was cool? I don’t know, but none of these reasons are worth the price they paid.
Winehouse was someone who was hit particularly hard. A singer with a great voice and a huge personality, she had the world at her feet five years ago when she released the fantastic Back To Black album. That it was the last thing she released tells it own tale. The years since then have seen her swaying (literally) between showing signs of recovery and spectacularly falling off the wagon, but rarely getting close to reviving her music career. A catastrophic recent gig that saw her booed off the stage in Belgrade was a sad end to that.
The worst thing about drug addiction is that it’s hard to see what part it looks cool or even fun. The story of Layne Staley from Alice In Chains was equally as depressing and predictable as that of Winehouse. He documented the miseries of heroin in his music and his troubles derailed his band until his death in 2002 from an overdose. He lived for seven years after surviving the curse of the 27 Club, but like the ‘killer’ in Final Destination, it got him in the end. We, and probably he, could see it coming, just like with Amy Winehouse. Will anyone wise up after her sad demise? Probably not…