The news that the soulful, jazz-inspired Amy Winehouse died in her London home over the weekend wasn’t much of a surprise.
Sad? Absolutely. But Amy Winehouse’s unfortunate death, much like the passing of rapper Tupac Shakur or pop legend Michael Jackson, felt more like an inevitability rather than an unfathomable end to a talented life.
Story: Will Sony Music turn Michael Jackson’s death into a Tupac Shakur-like posthumous profit?
It’s always troubling whenever a young person dies. And now, Amy Winehouse joins the dreaded “27 club,” walking amongst legends like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain–music stars who passed away prior to their 28th birthday.
But with Amy, her death is all the more disappointing. Having released just two studio albums, the latter of which (“Back to Black”) channeled the retro stylings of the 1960s, Winehouse and those who aided her music career were just beginning to tap into the depth of her talent.
Still, her biggest hit in America, “Rehab,” showed us that her demons might be an unshakeable force.
Since 2007, fans of Amy have been treated to news stories of drug use, failed rehab stints, and many a concert gone awry.
YouTube is filled with videos of Amy stumbling around during a show, mumbling incoherently, and getting whisked away back stage.
The writing has been on the wall for years. We knew it was coming, like the ending of a tragic movie you’ve already seen a dozen times beforehand.
You felt the same way when Tupac Shakur was gunned down in 1996.
An artist who couldn’t escape the thug life and the enemies that came with it, Tupac’s premature death felt so inevitable that you’d be hard pressed to find a record in which the singer doesn’t reference his own demise like a hip hop Nostradamus.
And then there’s Michael Jackson, a man who fought so many demons (some attributed to his father and upbringing, some simply due to growing up in the limelight), that the King of Pop became a total recluse.
With an ever-changing face, two high profile trials, and a relentless media that perpetuated rumors in order to sell newspapers and magazine subscriptions, you knew–deep down–that it wasn’t going to end well for Michael Jackson. That this wasn’t going to be an artist who would be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2035 Grammys.
He, like Tupac and Amy Winehouse, would die “before his time.”
Conversely, Aaliyah’s 2001 death was a shock. Having gained widespread popularity in music and movies, Aaliyah’s violent demise via plane crash left you incredulous.
The same can be said for Lisa “Lefteye” Lopes, whose 2002 passing continues to surprise and sadden fans everytime Chilli and T-Boz perform on stage as a twosome.
But when it comes to drugs and other personal demons, shocking isn’t quite the right word. Sad and disappointing seem more apt, as Amy Winehouse, Tupac Shakur, and Michael Jackson are singers you hoped would find inner peace and continue making great music for years to come.
But in the end, you just knew it wasn’t written in the stars.
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