Janis Joplin died at 27. So did Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. And Kurt Cobain. So too, today, did Amy Winehouse.
John Belushi was 33. River Phoenix was 23. Ernest Hemingway was 61.
The only time I remember seeing Winehouse she was winning Grammy after Grammy for a song named “Rehab” in which she talks about refusing to get treatment. She was not at the ceremony because she couldn’t leave her home country, England. The next day she went to see her husband in prison. She was then 24.
There is no doubt in my mind that Winehouse was an addict. And crazy. And brilliant. And amazingly talented.
I wonder what happens when someone throws themselves so completely into their art that their is no turning back. Is it the art that killed Janis Joplin or the drugs? Kurt Cobain’s whole musical sensibility was about his pushing beyond the limits of normal space and time and refusing to stop no matter what.
My belief is that great art doesn’t require a death wish. We have too many examples of young men and women of amazing talent imbedded in our memory not only for the legacy of their work but for their tragic demise.
My favorite current song is “Someone Like You” by Adele who gives credit to Amy Winehouse. She carries on her friend Amy’s vast talent with haunting lyrics and piercing vocal ability, without the death wish.
image via MTV