Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll Amy Winehouse Joins Club 27

Christopher Springmann


Every story is a health story, a simple truth, hardly a stretch of imagination. The same can be said about pop lyrics. After all, there’s endless creativity in mining sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll:

They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t
I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
the sinners are much more fun…

You know that only the good die young
thats what I said
I tell ya
Only the good die young, oh yeah,
only the good die young.

Pop singer Amy Winehouse just died young at age 27, thereby joining “Club 27,” artists and musicians who also died at 27, including Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.

Coincidentally, my daughter just turned 26, a month after graduating from MIT with a Master’s, and she’s off to Japan with an internship to work in the Japanese space program. I share a sense of grief with Amy’s parents, Janis and Mitch, who sound like pretty decent, hard-working folks, a pharmacist and cab driver. I’m sure they wish they had my problems, trying to figure out an appropriate birthday gift for their daughter.

Speaking of Club 27… We received tons of email and tweets after our interview with Brad Schreiber, co-author with Steven Roby of “Becoming Jimi Hendrix:” From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius. Club 27 was on Brad’s mind, plus addiction issues – man, that was on everyone’s mind, as Amy had just inadvertently joined up.

Here’s a typical email from RavingAmyFan, a SiriusXM listener in Tulsa:

“Hmmm, Amy’s parents sound like those folks who come to the conclusion that writing-off-Amy is the only way they can live with themselves, instead of cultivating more heartbreak and disillusionment by continuing to either deny and/or enable the problem.

That’s the miserable bad choice the loved ones of addicts often find themselves in, while planning for the day and dreading The Call they know will come.

‘Hello, Athens!’ And out… “

“Hello, Athens!” refers to Amy Winehouse’s passionate, personalized greeting to 20,000 concert fans early in June, a sweet sentiment, to be sure, except she was actually some 1100 km. North of Greece that night, in Belgrade, Serbia. While Amy’s heart was in the right place, her mind-and-body had apparently checked-out, as things went downhill fast for the angry Serbian crowd. The audience literally booed her off the stage as she stumbled, fumbled and crashed on stage. Amy’s band and back-up singers were unable to save her from an (apparent) alcohol-and-drug induced stupor. Last performance, last tour, that’s all folks.

The Washington Post quoted Winehouse as saying that living dangerously generated her creativity. “It sounds like such a wank thing to say,” remarked Winehouse, “but I need to get some headaches going to write about.”

And write she did, headaches and all, about her health, broken heart(s), sex, drugs, and some serious problems with men. We can only speculate and wonder . . . . if Amy Winehouse had decided to pursue one of many celebrity drug rehabs, as immortalized in her 2006 hit “Rehab,” would she still be with us today?

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said ‘no, no, no’
Yes I’ve been black but when I come back you’ll know know know

I don’t ever wanna drink again
I just ooh I just need a friend
I’m not gonna spend ten weeks
have everyone think I’m on the mend

It’s not just my pride
It’s just ’til these tears have dried

Welcome to The Club, Amy.