I’m always surprised that the musicians in the dreaded “27 Club” – Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain – seem so much older than they actually were. Years of hard living prematurely aged them in their photographs – when I see photographs of these musicians, it’s easy to estimate their ages in the early-to-mid thirties instead of late twenties. They experienced so much life in their short time that it’s easy to forget how young they actually were.
My brother texted me the news today that Amy Winehouse has died. I can’t think of anyone who would be genuinely shocked by her death. Still, my heart sank as I read the text; I was saddened by the news. Like many of her fans, I’d hoped that she would go away for awhile, get clean and healthy, and then release another amazing album. Instead, she’s become another member of the 27 Club. Like the other musicians in that set, it’s easy for me to think of her as someone much older than she actually is. I mean, she’s just my age. I can’t fathom that.
Like many, I became familiar with Amy Winehouse’s music in 2007. I loved Back to Black in my first listen, and played it over and over again for the next year. Her mix of R&B, jazz, and pop was fresh and infectious, and her songs helped me through my various heartaches.
Over the years, I was saddened to see how much she was struggling with her various addictions. Though I know her fans wanted her to get better, I think we all knew deep down inside that it wasn’t going to happen. I will be interested to see what her legacy will be in the next decades. I hope we forget the sordid tabloid stories and instead celebrate what a talented, soulful young woman she was.
What a talent. Her premature death is such an incredibly sad waste. I hope that generations of people will continue finding comfort and joy in her music, like my generation has.
Here is my favorite song of hers. Rest in peace, Amy. Your many fans will miss you.