Russell Brand on his friend Amy Winehouse: 'She was a f--ing genius'

russel-brand

Image Credit: Jon Furniss/WireImage.com

Amy Winehouse’s passing has inspired a number of famous friends and admirers to voice their sadness over her untimely death over the weekend. Among those (including some from collaborators Mark Ronson, Tony Bennett and the Dap Kings), the most indelible tribute has come from an unlikely but fitting source: Actor and comedian Russell Brand.

In a long blog post titled “For Amy” that appeared on the Get Him to the Greek star’s official site, Brand (who has famously grappled with substance abuse himself over the course of his life) wrote of how universal the arc of addiction is: “When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone.”

Of his friend Winehouse, he worte: “She wasn’t just some hapless wannabe, yet another pissed up nit who was never gonna make it, nor was she even a ten-a-penny-chanteuse enjoying her fifteen minutes,” he wrote. “She was a f—ing genius.”

Brand first saw the young Winehouse perform at a Paul Weller concert, an experience he recalled vividly.”From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness,” he recalled. “A voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine. My ears, my mouth, my heart and mind all instantly opened. Winehouse. Winehouse? Winehouse!”

According to Brand, who has been sober for eight years and who still attends AA meetings, Winehouse’s death should serve as a wake-up call to how people treat addicts. “Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today,” he wrote. “We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. … We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care.”

Read more on EW.com:
Amy Winehouse, gifted, Grammy-winning vocalist, frequent tabloid subject, passes away
Amy Winehouse mourned on Twitter
Amy Winehouse on video: Five classic moments from her career
Amy Winehouse’s 10 best singles
Photo Gallery: Amy Winehouse’s tumultuous life


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  • Cygnus

    Both of them are/were overrated. In the same breath as Cobain, Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin? Give me a break. Maybe more like Ritchie Valens, and his single album wonder. Couple of hits. I suppose it’s more tragic about the lost potential, than what was already done. We’ll never know. She’ll be more known for being a basket case, lush, druggie, more than music. That’s today’s superstar, more about style than substance.

    • meme

      amen to that. she’ll be forgotten in a couple of year.

      • Amy Winehouse’s Corpse

        I think she was already forgotten.

      • non-famous drug addict’s society

        nice sentiment, brand… but wrong framing of concept. amy’s talent makes her no worthier than anyone else to life and respect.

      • AcaseofGeo

        Perhaps Brand should address her family, who SHOULD’VE viewed her differently AND HELPED. At the very least they could’ve had her arrested for possession. This has NOTHING to do with how the press handles drug-using celebrities OR the way society views it. This was between her and her family and sadly, her family failed her and she failed herself. I don’t care is she was a “genius” singer or a cook, a nurse, a maid, a lawyer, whatever.

      • Shells

        To @non-famous drug addict’s society: if you’re interested, read Brand’s entire article (eulogy?0 and not just the snippet excerpted here. You’ll see that he doesn’t claim that she’s more worthy because she had talent. He actually did a pretty good job of bringing the focus back to the individual addict, regardless of fame/ stature/ wealth.

      • Delon

        She won’t be forgotten. Her work speaks for itself. Her legend will only grow in time. Russell’s eulogy is most sincere. RIP Amy.

      • Bebe

        AcaseofGeo is right. Her father was too busy using her fame so that he could have a musical career for himself. He was in New York when she was dying, for God’s sake, about to give a concert. And her mother’s mantra was, “I figured she was going to die one of these days anyway.” WTF?! What lazy, irresponsible parents! They should have had her arrested for drug possession and institutionalized, if necessary. But no, one goes ON TOUR and the other sits around saying there was nothing she could do. Bulls**t. There was plenty they could and SHOULD have done. She was their daughter for crying out loud. You’d imagine they’d want to do something to save her life!

      • CC

        Had her institutionalized? The public is not responsible for maintaining social misfits. There is enough info out there to wise up anyone about drug abuse. If someone indulges anyway, screw em. Drug addiction is as easy to avoid as pregnancy these days. If you ignore the wisdom you get what you deserve.

      • Lala

        Hello, I have been receiving your tips for styiang sober but would like to receive your book. My daughter has been struggling with drug addiction and has been in several rehabs but she is still using. It is such a heartbreak to watch such a beautiful, smart girl deteriorate. I would also like to receive more info about your program.Thanks,Kelly

    • digit

      or Substance abuse, you mean.

    • Jill S

      Kinda like Macy Gray who was supposed to be the Next Best Thang. One album. Rise to fame. Fall from fame. Game Over.

      • asher

        @ Jill S – Its nothing like Macy Gray. Macy Gray put out several albums after her big hit album. Winehouse never did. Just sayin’.

      • AcaseofGeo

        I could be wrong but I’m not sure we’ve heard neverending stories about Macy Gray being addicted and living a drug life, have we? While she WAS a “one-hit wonder”, she HAS released numerous recordings that have had middling sales. They don’t need to be big hits to have a career.

    • Brian Wallace-Cavill

      I think Amy was talented and all, but it’s one of those situations where people have to focus on what could have been rather than what was. She put out two great albums. That’s all she has to show for a career—other than screw-up after screw-up.

      Brian

    • Laura

      Jim Morrison was an overrated toolbag.

      • e.e.

        you’re being way to kind.(no sarcasm intended)

    • amadeline

      What nasty, mean-spirited, judgmental people you are!

      • alan of montreal

        agree!

      • Caress Lepore

        Goodness someone has lost their life for God’s sake. Whether it was preventable or not a parent is burying their child. Addiction is a disease not easliy understood if you haven’t gone through it or have a loved one who has gone through it. If you don’t have kind words to say about her then keep them to yourself. Have some respect.

      • tom

        yeah we are nasty and mean but we tell the truth without sugar coating it….she was a loser and justice was served she laughed at drugs the law life and most of all …her fans…..only one good thing came out of this….shes finally cured

      • Jay

        I wonder how many posters are teenagers. Immature and cruel, for the most part.

      • emma

        Agreed! These people obviously have no knowledge of substance addiction.

      • B

        She probably wasn’t the best human being. But I think the world would be 20 times better if TOM were dead instead.

      • B

        She’s cured, Tom. But the world still needs to be cured of you. God has punished us with your existence. You and the rest of the soulless demons who troll in here.

      • Inscrutable

        How many others in regular peasant life get celebrated like this? Doesn’t every addict have some brilliant part of themselves that could be exaggerated and celebrated? Most people are mourning for wrong reasons. Rather than mourn her loss of human potential (not finding herself, not becoming free of addiction and depression), you’ll find that most just mourn the loss of Amy Winehouse as they would a loss of a DVD; the object is not the person. Don’t worry sheep, the industry will send you all up another sacrificial tortured soul that you can worship, follow, deify, and distract you from your miserable lives of hyperreality.

    • Matt

      I know it’s really vogue to complain and moan and lament society’s ills online, but your stuff is pretty tired.
      Her talent was absolute. Only a couple of CD’s, true, but a handful of singles, plus “Rehab”, which is probably already a classic.
      Also, she started the modern trend of British female soul singers – Adele has one of the top albums this summer. I’m not saying that she owes Amy Winehouse everything, but some of her success is definitely due to Amy’s influence. At the least, we owe her a lot more than you’re willing to give, which is pretty much the usual message board hipster-cynicism.

      • Delon

        Precisely. Without Amy there would’ve been no Adele.

      • Inscrutable

        No, the soul singer trend as you so inaccurately put it did not come about because of some washed up recently dead person, it came out of the SOUL singing movement of the sixties and seventies. How quickly you move to give credit to the inferior copy. No wonder pop culture is hated by so many. Anyone can say anything whether credible or not and chances are someone will buy into it and have a hand in obscuring the true history of things.

    • B

      Take it from an anonymous pr#$k to express his total disrespect for someone’s passing. Note that this was not Osama Bin Laden who died, but a young talented singer. Your ability to spew venom from the safety of your computer screen shows the utter lack of dignity and balls you have in your pathetic little life. Oh but the internet makes it so easy to say anything you want. Respond to me personally if you have anything worthy to say. Otherwise, shut the f#$% up.

      • tom

        you are a loser just like she was….she probably was your idol..and now shes gone…..now who will you look up to and get new ideas from…..u should try to b original….loser..

      • B

        Does your mom know that your using her computer again? That b$tch is gonna tell your dad, unless he’s out at the gay bar again, then you’re safe for a couple of days. Plus, I don’t have to look up to anyone… I’m an adult. You probably have to look up at your daddy’s c#$k everytime he comes home drunk and wants you out of bed and kneel before him. You have many issues to look forward to, young man. God bless.

      • B

        You’re pretty proud of being nasty and mean, Tom. That’s good because you’re safe over there in your little computer room, ready to talk s#%t and you don’t have to deal with the consequences. Ever try looking at an adult straight in the eyes and saying how you feel? Probably not. That’s why you’re probably still at that job with the mop in your hand mumbling to yourself while an EW comment blog is your only means to vent. You truly are the loser.

      • B

        Hey Tom…… loser.

    • JLR

      for that matter Morrison overreated (a great song, the rest ALL image, quite annoying really), Joplin (what did she do but die during that period)?

    • Mellissa

      You want to compare Amy Winehouse, a drug addict, to a teenaged Richie Valens? Richie Valens died in a tragic plane crash, thus preventing him from releasing more albums. Amy Winehouse, while talented, didn’t want to go to rehab.

    • Anthony

      …I wish you were in front of me right now! You imbesicle, you know nothing of pain, loss, the incrdients to addiction. Talent, have you listened to her words of ever one of her songs, your a moron…I’m sorry what is it you do? Oh yeah, you seek attention on this site, well you got mine and that was a mistake!

      • BB

        what is an imbesicle? A new type of ‘popsicle’?

      • Trixii

        Score!!!!!

    • Journey To Nowhere

      At least Winehouse accomplished making two well received albums. She won’t be forgotten. Not like you. At least people knew who she was. What have have you done? Piss off you judgmental wanker.

  • Tony Oberkirch

    Addiction is not a disease. You want to see disease? Go to a pediatric cancer ward. Ask the kids who have lost all their hair, who are in constant pain, who’s days are numbered… ask them if they could put down the crack pipe, needle, or bottle and be rid if their disease would they put it down? Unfortunately they don’t have that choice. Did the addict have a chance encounter with a microscope germ that gave them their “disease”. No. They picked up the pipe and lit it. They hunted down the white powder or bottle of gin and relished the rush as they enjoyed every second of it. Until it raised it’s ugly head and bit them in the ass, and now they’re “sick”. BS!!!! Did the child in the cancer ward relish the acquisition of cancer? No.

    Every time you coddle some selfish fool, living or dead, by calling the bad choices and abdication of personal responsibility a “disease”, you slap one of those children in the cancer ward right in the face.

    • mike

      Yes !! Thank you.

      • AcaseofGeo

        Thank you Tony. My partner has a devastating kind of Multiple Sclerosis, and he did absolutely NOTHING to acquire this disease. Addictions ARE a disease but they are a disease of CHOICE. No one simply walking down the street gets addicted to substance, BUT a person walking down the street CAN get MS, or like the poor children you wrote of who never had a chance to grow up, they were simply living their life and got cancer. Addicts need help but those helping them need to stop babying their “disease”.

    • Caiti

      I disagree entirely. Just because they brought it on themselves doesn’t mean they’re not sick. If you get lung cancer from smoking, you wouldn’t say they’re not sick just because they did it to themselves. It is a very different kind of disease yes, but these people are SLAVES to these habits that are killing them. They can not stop. If that’s not being sick, I don’t know what is.

      • Caiti

        Moreover, how much of the blame belongs to us, the consumers and fans? Her father begged us not to buy her albums and give her awards, and yet people did. They rewarded her drug induced antics with attention. In some ways her pain and struggles are what made her so famous… who would want to change?

      • dave

        You should watch the South Park where Randy suffers from the disease of alcoholism.

      • mark @Madness

        I’ve never thought of it that way. Great way of explaining it Caiti

      • @caiti

        Oh so now it is my fault. Nice one.

      • Sarah W.

        I am an addict. It started off with drinking socially, progressing to smoking pot, because it’s “not really a drug” and moving on to cocaine. The progression of this disease in the mind of an addict is not something I expect any non-addict to understand. I literally woke up one day to find that I had a full-blown addiction and my life was out of control. Thank God for these programs, but if you aren’t ready to give up the drugs, all we addicts can do is pray that you’ll come into recovery before the inevitable happens; jails, institutions, and death. I am so appalled that people can make a joke out of a deadly disease of addiction. It is like the ailments of the diabetic. Yes, we caused our ailment, but no addict decided that they would use to get hopelessly addicted. It all starts out as fun, as a socially acceptable party favor. There are ways to control and maintain so our disease will not kill us, like the diabetic has insulin or a controlled diet, but if they do not follow the advice of the doctor, or in my case, program, they die just the same. Shame on anyone who belittles a woman in death because they couldn’t understand her disease. It saddens me that this is the world I live in and these the people who inhabit it. That you Caiti, for bringing to light something of this disease, but non-addicts will never understand the addiction that grips someone once the disease of addiction takes off. I owe my life to recovery programs, and I will continue to carry the message to those addicts still suffering. This disease is deadly, just as many others are. Sometimes, we are so stuck in the image and idea of doing drugs that we don’t realize the hold we are allowing drugs to have on us. Many addicts just don’t know how to live any different from the way they do in active addiction. This woman lost her life and so much potential with it. Shame on those who try to alienate a dead person, despite the cause of death.

      • Tiff

        Caiti’s right, she deserved to die.

      • Ames

        I think the point is that you CAN stop.

      • @ames

        Yes, let’s stop being addicted to something.

      • mia

        Yes they can stop. That is the point. I work with addiction and while I see a lot of people try and try again to stop (and some who do not make it) you can stop. I have seem people living on the streets buying crack everyday to having their own apartment, job and being clean. Someone with cancer can not enter a program and be done with it in 3 months. Addiction is powerful but it is not a disease. It insults me when people say it is.

      • Inscrutable

        Isn’t there evidence that many people have stopped their use voluntarily of addictive substances? Why paint the addict as helpless when obviously they helped themselves into the habit? Difficult to quit, not impossible.

    • Paul

      Are you for real? Have you ever heard of mental illness? Addiction falls under that category. You might/might not be predisposed to addiction just as people might/might not be predisposed to cancer living in their bodies. People all ages die of all things. To say addiction is not a disease is to say that people don’t have personalities. It is what it is and it is just as hard to say NO, as it is for a people to stop eating their favourite food even though they know it might cause cancer and kill them. Don’t be so close minded and get off your pedestal.your argument proves exactly that

      • Amy Winehouse’s Corpse

        The cure to this horrible disease is love!

      • @Paul

        I am predisposed to addiction. Knowing that I make conscious efforts to not get drunk, take drugs, etc. I have sympathy but there is a lot of blame that belongs squarley on the addict’s shoulders.

      • alan of montreal

        @@Paul She also was bi-polar–I’m sure that didn’t help her fight her addiction

      • Matt

        Totally agree Paul.

      • mia

        Mental health is a big component to Addiction and when you work with the two together, the person can change their habits. People can stop this self harm. Someone with another DISEASE can not. I would classify Addiction as a mental health issue but not disease

    • MeME

      Your ignorance is a disease. Addiction being a disease does not make the pain and suffering of the children in a hospital cancer ward less valid or real. Cancer and addiction are both vile and both are diseases. Unfortunatley, you are under the mistaken assumption that recognizing an addict’s disease somehow has an effect on the validity of another’s illness. Amy Winehouse was sick and even though her illness began with certain choices, it is still an illness. No different than a diabetic who in many cases has contributed to their illness by their choices.

      • pk

        well put

      • Helena

        @Paul – thx for the comment. Addiction is not about weakness. I don’t know if it is a disease or not, but I know it is complicated and difficult, and death from addiction is no less tragic and agonizing than death from cancer. I am so shocked and appalled at the insensitive and cruel remarks I have seen on different pages on this website. She may eventually be forgotten by those who don’t appreciate great music, but the many thousands of us who admired her work will continue to admire and appreciate it.

      • Sue1

        Wonderfully put, MeME. Those who refuse to see addiction as a disease know nothing about it, or have never watched someone struggle with it. Some beat addiction, some are beaten by it. Criticizing Winehouse makes no sense, simply mourning her does.

    • Cameron J

      …when will people learn that it’s useless trying to crucify a dead person? >_>

      • tom

        yeah but we ll keep trying anyway

    • Penny

      ABSOFREAKINLUTELY RIGHT ON!!

    • Breeze

      @tony oberkirch

      I am stopping myself from ranting at the moment because I feel a few of the people above have clearly made my point without using a paragraph full of obscenities. However I just want to say you sound like a pig headed d-bag and obviously know absolutely nothing when it comes to addiction.

      • Tony Oberkirch

        @Breeze – Thanks for keeping the discussion civil. You can return to your crack pipe now.

    • Cary Hays

      @cygnus, meme, and all of you other fools bashing a recently dead woman and her crippling addiction… 1. her life meant more to the world than yours ever will. Who the hell are you? 2. If you don’t think addiction is a disease, you’ve never been addicted or known anyone who has. It ruins people’s lives just like cancer. The days of an addict ARE numbered as we clearly see today. I think it’s funny that you would comment on an article about a woman that you clearly have no compassion for, solely for the purpose of dogging her. Shame on you. Not everyone is born with the potential for addiction. But a lot are. Not all of those people born with the potential for addiction become addicts. But for those that were born with the potential for addiction, if things that are supposed to happened dont or that are not supposed to happen do, all it takes is once.

      • Walter

        Her life meant crap. She was mildly famous for a couple of years and will be forgotten very quickly. All the fools bashing her are still alive and will be around for many years to come with lots of opportunities to impact the world in a positive way. Now I’m sure she was probably on the verge of curing cancer just before she died so I guess that’s tragic, but other than that what did she ever do for anyone?

      • Art

        Yes, Walter. And I assume that they, like you, will impact the world in a positive way via entertainment website comment board. Anonymity really brings out the best in people. These boards only prove the saying: Opinions are like as*holes…

      • Inscrutable

        Yes Art, and I assume that they, like you, will put down attempts at offering a counterpoint via an entainment website comment board. Attempts to silence the minority really bring out the best in people. Your comments only prove the saying: “Dumb All Over, A Little Ugly On The Side.” Frank Zappa

    • susan

      Thank you! Here is an idea, if you don’t want to be addicted to Heroine, cocaine, etc….don’t try it! So sick of the addiction is a disease excuse. give me a break. half the people in my family have drug or alcohol problems, but i just don’t use anything and don’t have any problems.

      • sarah

        Right. So Susan, when the addiction takes the life of one of your family members, you’d be okay with the internet crucifying them?

      • susan

        Yeah, screw them and their selfish lives.

      • B

        Amen, Susan. It is now destined that your future daughter will become a crack addicted hooker who will demand your time and sanity putting her thru rehab and then the consequences of relapse when she steals money in your purse. And numerous doctor bills with STD’s. Sorry, that’s the way karma works.

      • Inscrutable

        It was Amy Winehouse’s choice to be shoved into the faces of America via loads of money. Should she get an award for that? I’d be drinking myself to death if I was just a puppet of the entertainment industry too.

    • tom

      finally somebody with the balls to tell the truth just how it is…..thank you..

      • B

        Here’s another truth, tom. Your mom is a c#$tbag.

    • Juls

      If you we use your logic that anything not caused by a miroscopic germ – then cancer is not a disease either.

      You know nothing of addiction. It is a disease. If you have ever had a beer or a glass of wine – thank God that you do not have the chemical makeup of an addict. Because if you did, that one beer would have turned into another and another and another and before you know it, you can’t function without it.

      At least with a disease like cancer, medical solutions can be thrown at it – this is not the case with addiction.

      • Tony Oberkirch

        Of course, how silly of me. Nothing is anyone’s fault. I won’t be judgemental of myself anymore. Opps, did I just hold myself responsible for being judgemental. Of course, it’s not my fault. It’s due to the food additives that wicked big corporations put in my baby food I ate 52 years ago. Oops, did I just hold wicked big corporations responsible, of course, it can’t be their fault becsuse….

    • MickeyG123

      I also have a problem labeling addiction as a disease. I have a child with a disorder that will affect her for the rest of her life. There is no choices she can make to change theis outcome. And people want me to have sympathy for someone who chose to inflict pain on themselves, I can’t. I have nothing to say about Amy Winehouse’s music because I only knew of her through the news clips of her outrageous behaviour. I do know she had one successful album and thats about it. I’m sorry she has passed away. I feel for her Mother, who suffers from MS.
      But death doesn’t change bad choices a person makes.
      Just don’t tell me addiction is a disease; she could not help it.

    • Shells

      Tony, I don’t know why addiction is called a disease, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t take it very seriously. It is, at least, an illness, and recognizing its severity and threat does in no way minimize the tragedy of children with cancer. Yes, addiction starts with a personal choice to use, which is a terrible decision and one which each individual must take responsibility for. But once caught, the addiction itself is an awful trap that just devours the user, making them just a shell of their former selves. For that alone, the addict deserves some compassion even if we’re frustrated by their inability to stop. It’s nearly impossible to simply shake off without enormous support from others. To simply imply that, once addicted, it’s a simple matter of choice, is a joke in a society where most of us don’t have the willpower to resist eating junk food for a few weeks to lose a couple of pounds. Amy made a terrible choice. It cost her life. We can afford to give her a little mercy in death. Just my 2 cents.

      • Tony Oberkirch

        Addiction is Bad. It is caused by making bad choices. The fact that it is back and it is physical doese not make it a disease. Unless you want to include everything that is bad under the label of disease.

  • mike

    Yes, geniuses always drug themselves to death. She was an idiot who happened to be born with a good singing voice.

    • Captain

      Being an addict doesn’t make her music any less incredible. Anyone who thinks addicts are idiots is clearly too ignorant to understand what addiction truly is. Most addicts don’t just choose to be addicts, it’s in their genes. Yes, she chose to take that first sip and I’m sure she knew what she was doing to her body was wrong but that doesn’t mean she had control over it. Being aware doesn’t mean being in control.

      • Jay

        No…. addict are idots. PERIOD. They are idiots because they used the substance in the first place. They knew it was addictive and wrong, yet they did it anyway…… REPEATEDLY

        If that is not an “idiot”, I dont know what is

      • L

        I agree that choosing to do an addictive drug is a stupid decision. But that doesn’t automatically make the person an idiot. It means they made a (really) bad decision.

      • Jay

        @L: I disagree… anyone who makes the same “really bad decision” over and over again is clearly an idiot.

      • Juls

        Not everyone who uses a known addictive substance becomes addicted. It’s in their chemical makeup to become addicted.

        Have you ever had a beer? How come you aren’t and alcoholic?

      • True Blue

        @ Jay:

        Even the smartest of people make dumb decisions in their lives. So I guess all of the human race (you included) are idiots? Well judging by your inability to comprehend what Captain is saying, it’s pretty obvious that you are an idiot, anyways.

  • JPo

    I’m not a Brand fan. In fact, I pretty much can’t stand him. But I respect that fact that he’s acutely aware of what Winehouse was battling and can relate in a way most of us cannot. However, I think that the tragedy is that the celeb system is ripe with those willing to do anything to keep these starts moving and producing. There’s a “doping” system within the entertainment industry much like baseball and cycling. Amphetamines will keep them onstage, cocaine will make them feel they can do anything, and a joint at the end of the show will help them sleep. Tomorrow, they’ll start all over again.

    • Ana170

      Except in Winehouse’s case her record company and parents actually did all they could to help her. The record company tried to force her go to rehab and she said no, no, no. Her father tried to get guardianship but was turned down by the courts. Her doctors told her she had emphysema and would die if she kept doing drugs. She didn’t want or wasn’t ready to be helped. It’s unfortunate but ultimately it’s no one’s fault but Amy’s.

    • KLH

      I think Amy was an amazing talent and she is gone too soon. I was on board with Brand’s comments until he started to blame society. She was not treated the same as others. She had many opportunities to get help. While addiction is an illness you have to want to be cured. My mother was an alcholic. I have seen addiction up close and have the utmost empathy. But please don;t blame society.

  • Nikki

    Tony,

    You raise valid points. I wonder if you have had an experience with someone who had cancer. I am sorry for your loss if you did, I have too. I think addiction to anything is like a disease but yes, it starts with a choice. You are right. Alcoholism, drug abuse runs in families sometimes too, doesn’t it? Maybe when people say it is a disease they mean it figuratively not in the literal sense like cancer or like ulcerative colitis (which I have). You are very right in saying what you did. Just wanted to let you know I agree with you. BUT those who have conquered addiction deserve our respect and praise because they have come back from bad choices. Everyone makes mistakes.

  • Angel of Vengeance

    Glad to see such sympathetic posts here so far.

  • Melanie

    My hope and prayer is that your children, sister, brother, parents, friends never suffer from the disease of addictions….this is for the people who have commented. Obviously, you have never been touched by addiction. I hope you never are. But, be respectful to the families that have lived through it, and it is most certainly a disease. I understand that seeing a child with cancer is much different than seeing a young woman od. Still, she had a family who loved her. If this ever touches your family, I hope you think back to your comment today.

    • Jay

      Addicion is a disease, but it is a disease that a person knowingly gave to themself.
      So… I can agree with you that it is a disease, but I disagree that these people deserve no sympathy because they knew what they were doing when they did it. And then they did it over and over again.

      hence… no sympathy

      • Shells

        Jay, I get what you’re saying, and of course people have to take responsibility for their choices. That’s why Brand and others always say, it’s up to the user to make the choice and until he/she does, there’s no point. But addiction means you’re physically compelled to do it… over and over and over again. And yes, it’s a selfish compulsion, but a compulsion nonetheless. It’s not just a matter of willpower. In many ways, the control and the choice is taken from you, and it takes a buckets of support and rehab to turn it around. There’s a reason so many people are struggling in that cycle.

  • Sven

    “From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness,”

    That line alone prevents me from respecting anything else Brand has to contribute.

  • yvonne

    true Russell. but it doesn’t stop the families of the diseased from being upset watching their loved ones disintegrate right before their eyes. the helplessness. trying to do whatever we can do and it still is not enough. it is hard enough for mere ‘nobody’s’ to get help, but throw in the toxic mess of celebrity and all that comes with it, and here we are.

  • meme

    oh, please Amy Winehouse was so overrated. Enough with these tributes and sob stories. She made one decent record and had a few hits. She ain’t a legend and don’t even mention her name alongside Billie Holiday and Ella Fitztgerald. Get a grip.

    • Tracey

      I was reading your comment and I found it interesting. You seem to have respect for Billie Holiday but do you know how she died? From an overdose. So you CAN mention Amy’s name in the same breath because they both died fromt the same affliction.

      • meme

        great logic. Let me spell it out for you. Billie & Ella had more talent in their pinkies than Amy had in her entire body and her name does NOT belong in the same sentence.

      • Shells

        Talent, like, beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Just because you don’t appreciate someone doesn’t negate that someone else finds her music brilliant. :-)

      • Inscrutable

        Facts and details about music are indisputable. Your fascination with beauty is meaningless when faced with actual information that allows you to see quite clearly who is the counterfeit and who is the real legend. Since people are not the same, they do not have the same capacity to spot talent. Those who indulge in top 40 pop have a limited capacity to absorb and recognize the parts that make up the beautiful and talented. Just the mere fact that you ignore the differences between Billie Holiday, Ella Fitgerald, and the dead person who happened to be a singer, disqualifies you from even making a claim about her level of beauty (artificial concept void of any information regarding specifics).

  • Tony Oberkirch

    I’ve had addiction in my family. I’ve had cancer in my family. Both caused deaths.

    None of this alters the fact that addiction is caused by bad personal choices.
    And saying it is a disease is being a co-dependant, and enabler. You are allowing them to say “See, it’s not my fault… it’s a disease.” I’m sorry people suffer. I’m sorry people die. I’m sorry when the do it to themselves it’s their own fault, nobody else’s, and it’s not a disease.

    • Aunt Sassy

      Oh Tony, keep on living in denial. It’s OK – nobody here really gives two cents about your opinion anyways (which it IS an opinion and certainly NOT a fact). Unless you are a medical professional who has completed a ton of research and can prove your point – which for the record I highly doubt – you should probably go to the cancer ward and hold hands with those kids.

    • GajMan

      Me thinks you should look up the definition of disease. I did when I was told alcoholism was a disease. I was surprised by my ignorance.

    • Suse

      As a member of the medical profession, I can assure you that addiction is a bona fide, genuine disease – one that is highly prevalent in our society, too. If you deny that addiction is a disease, then by logical reasoning you must also deny that all psychiatric illnesses are a disease, and only a careless uneducated fool would suggest such a thing. You cannot also say that addicts are not sick and suffering when we rightly accept that people who have chain-smoked their way to lung cancer and eaten their way to cardiovascular disease still deserve to be treated with care and respect. I too have lost family members to both alcohol addiction and breast cancer, and both of them are illnesses which are physically and mentally ravaging. Is it someone’s fault that they are an addict? It’s true that they may have made the initial choice to take a drink or shoot up, but they don’t get to choose the physiological way in which these substances wreak havok on their bodies and plant physical addictions. Also, it’s well-established in research that the disease of addiction even has genetic links that may make people either more like mentally or physically to become addicted to certain substances.

      • Jay

        ” It’s true that they may have made the initial choice to take a drink or shoot up”

        …just that line alone is enough. They knew what they were doing. They deserve NO sympathy.

        And to make matters worse…. a person has to make this horrible decision OVER AND OVER AGAIN to form the addiction. I have NO sympathy

  • DGH

    Calling addiction a disease is just a way to get the addict to think they have no control over whether they put drugs in their body or not. No one forced me to stick a needle in my arm it was my choice luckily I chose to end that distructive life style before ending up like many of my friends who’s life ended with thier family grieving over their body. Nothing pisses me off more than someone telling a drug addict its not thier fault.

  • Robert

    It appears that Russell is the only one in this whole post who can have perspective on Amy-he Heard her,hes a recovering addict,he was a friend of hers-and yes!she was a f_cking genius!

    • dave

      Explain why she was a genius. I honestly don’t know much about her. Did she actually write her songs? At least write the lyrics? Or are you just saying she was a genius because she could sing well?

      • Al

        It was her voice that made her a genius, but, yes, she did write her own lyrics.

      • C Men

        Saying her voice made her a genius is like saying Terry Bradshaw was a genius.

      • Tiff

        There’s a huge difference between genius and talent. She had talent, she wasn’t a genius.

    • Billy

      Was he actually friends with her? I see no proof of that anywhere in what’s written above.

  • Julie

    From the NIH (that is the National Institutes of Health for the non-med folks out there)

    Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain – they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.

    The lack of perspective from some of you is atrocious. We all make choices every day that directly impact ourselves and the world around us. When you litter or buy plastic or consume packaged goods and produce from genetically modified organisms, you make a lasting impact on the environment that places yourself and others at risk of diseases and cancers (some of which have yet to be named). Should we scoff at you when your disease unfolds b/c of a crappy choice you made? I think not. Have some empathy and show a little respect.

    • Tony Oberkirch

      No. Practice personal responsibility.

    • Tony Oberkirch

      And these medical types are out to make a buck, get published, and get grants. They’ll tell you that child molestors have a disease too. BS.

      • Shannon

        If you bothered to look into any current research there are genetic sequences tied to certain addictions the same way there are genetic sequences tied to certain cancers. Clearly you know nothing about study design and peer review publishing, not that it should surprise me.

        Lung cancer would be rare if not for cigarette smoking. Heart disease and obesity are highly correlated. Occupations you take expose you to cancer causing agents. Where you live exposes you to more cancer agents. How you cook your meat. The state of the drinking water in your area. The level of pesticides that are used on your produce.

        All of these things could go away with some personal responsibility, yet I doubt you’d tell someone dying of cancer due to any of these “personal responsibility” lifestyle choices that they didn’t have a disease. Mental illness is a disease.

  • anthony

    Wow. All of u people arguing over whether or not addiction s a disease or not are pathetic. A woman is dead and whether or not u think it’s her fault or not doesn’t matter. A talent has been wasted and lets give her family some respect and just say we are sorry for ur loss.

    • ‘Lish

      AGREED!

    • Walter

      I’m not sorry for their loss. I’m sorry that she put them through that for years and now I’m happy for them that all the BS is over with.

      • True Blue

        And I’m sorry that someone with your mentality even exists.

      • Walter

        You think her family isn’t feeling a sense of relief right about now? No more worrying, no more dealing with stupid addict $#it.

        I’m sorry addicts even exist but they do and they’re a drain on everyone they touch.

    • cg

      I am very sorry for their loss. I am also sorry for our loss. However, it was in no way shape or form MY FAULT!!!

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