Date that is etched in my memory . . .
Jewish Telegraph, July 2011
Deputy editor MIKE COHEN recalls his encounter with
OCTOBER 17, 2003. A date that seems so insignificant, yet also a date I hoped I wouldn’t have to return to.
Many newspapers have obituaries written in advance for people in the public eye.
I don’t always go that far, but when Amy Winehouse’s drug problem became public knowledge, I made a note of the date my interview appeared . . . just in case.
My interview was based around her stunning debut album Frank.
She came across as a sweet, friendly girl, who perhaps smoked a little too much dope.
When Back To Black was about to be released, I made contact with her record label to set up another interview.
A date was arranged for another phone interview, but as it approached, her press officer told me it would have to be rearranged as it clashed with a video shoot.
The second date was also cancelled and there was no time to fit in another due to her commitments.
It then emerged that she had major drug and alcohol problems — more likely the real cause for my interview to fall through.
The girl I saw on television promoting Back To Black bore no resemblance to the one I had interviewed.
But the look fitted the incredible sound on the album. Back To Black was her Thriller, her Born To Run, her Dark Side of The Moon.
No matter what she did in the future, she would struggle to better it.
Unfortunately, her condition meant that new material she recorded might never see the light of day.
Adele may be the biggest selling artist this year, but she will never match Amy’s talent.
Amy was a real one-off.
Everyone predicted either she or Pete Doherty would go the way of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and so many other music legends.
But she seemed to be off the danger list and excitement grew that she was back in the studio working on a new album.
Then her tour had to be cancelled due to her problems, and it was deja vu.
As heavy metal star Dave Mustaine says in his book A Life in Metal, which deals with his descent into a drugs hell: “The music business is generally pretty forgiving of bad behaviour — and indeed often seems to reward it — especially in those who actually have some talent and a track record of success.”
And that seems to say it all for Amy.
We all read the stories about her problems, but we just accepted it because she was Amy and had an incredible voice.
Amy chose the lifestyle and had chances to change.
I have read so many books of rock stars with drug problems — Mustaine, Slash, Anthony Kiedis, Motley Crüe, Steve Adler.
And the message that comes through is that they were in denial about their addictions.
It was only when they admitted their problems that they were able to get clean and stay clean.
“They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no,” sang Amy.
But sadly even rehab couldn’t save her. The damage had already been done.