Details of Amy Winehouse's Death Are a Wake-Up Call

amy winehouseAlthough authorities are still calling the cause of Amy Winehouse's death "unexplained," and official autopsy results aren't expected until tomorrow, new details are emerging about the singer's final hours. Winehouse was seen buying a haul of drugs that included cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine from a drug dealer in her London neighborhood of Camden around 10:30 p.m. on Friday night.

It's also been reported that she seemed hell-bent on getting totally messed up. A source said, "None of us know who was with her into the early hours of Saturday. But getting out of it was clearly her main priority of the night." Someone also shared that the coke Amy bought probably wasn't much of a problem, because she could "do cocaine until the cows came home." Instead, Amy's friends say a "dodgy ecstasy pill" mixed with the large amount of alcohol was probably the last straw.

I can't help but think of all the disturbing details that surrounded similar artists' deaths.

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The questions about Kurt Cobain's drug use and suicide, the combination of heroin and alcohol that was Janis Joplin's undoing, how Jimi Hendrix choked after taking nine sleeping pills, Sublime's lead singer Bradley Nowell's heroin overdose (at 28, he had a year on the other stars of the 27 Club). These eerie stories have become an integral part of rock 'n' roll history. I vividly remember how some of my adolescent peers repeated and even idealized stories of Cobain and Nowell's deaths when they happened. It was as if living fast, dying young, and leaving a good-looking corpse became something some of them aspired to. And that's terrifying in itself. Because by no means should any of these incidents be romanticized.

It's saddening that all of these gifted musicians were sick, suffered from addiction which, like Russell Brand noted in his eulogy blog post about Amy, is a serious disease. And it would be a huge disservice to her memory to absorb these details of Amy's death and pass them off as "just another" drug-fueled celebrity death. As Russell wrote:

All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill. We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care.

Many times, we just assume and accept that someone who is gifted is bound to be an addict, that they simply wouldn't exist as artists without their addictions, that the two go hand-in-hand. Maybe that's true to some extent, but I don't think we can just accept that. Russell's right. Maybe if we didn't turn a blind eye to it, we would lose fewer creative geniuses far too young.

What do you think about the new details emerging? Do you agree we should stop romanticizing rock 'n' roll deaths?


Image via IVO GARCEV/Flickr

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