Was Amy Winehouse really that good?
Is her death truly so tragic?
In April 2009, I wrote the this about her for Reveal Magazine:
"I once sat right behind Amy Winehouse during Jools Holland's Hootenanny. She still had her Beehive and she was very engrossed with her boyfriend, who was sitting on her lap. My jaw dropped though, when I heard her sing. What a voice. What a style. What a talent. I felt far too starstruck to say hello.
Later, I looked at her horoscope. What a birth chart! She's no more an ordinary Virgo than Michael Jackson, who we mentioned the other week. Her chart is full of planetary pairs with conjunctions of the Moon and Neptune, Mars and Venus, Jupiter and Uranus, Sun and Mercury, Pluto and Saturn.
No wonder she's so wild and restless. She may be a romantic but her dreams don't involve domestic bliss. Drama has followed her all her life and it doesn't look set to leave her. Her fame will never fade. But nor will her flame. We'll still be reading about her passionate quest for impossible love and her dalliances with danger, for as long as she lives. The latest gossip says it all. Other celebrities may slip on the banana skin of success but Amy, allegedly, just rolls it up and smokes it. Will her health give way if she doesn't give over? Maybe, one day. But she's quite capable of walking that tightrope between going too far and going over the edge for many many moons to come!"
There have, indeed, been many moons since then. About 27 which just so happens to be how many suns (or years) she lived on this earth.
About 9 weeks ago, Reveal asked me to write about Amy again. This time I said:
"The last time I saw Amy Winehouse was in 2008 when she apparently had a punch up on stage. I wasn't close enough to see but I do know that, when she sang "I don't want to go to Rehab" the Glastonbury crowd didn't join in with "No, No, No." Instead, they yelled "Go! Go! Go!"
Amy needs rehab. Lots of it. One part of her knows this only too well. She is, after all, a Virgo and, like every Virgo, she's extremely perceptive. Another part of her though, is a rebel. And she's exceptionally sensitive. Possibly that's what she tries to damp down when she over indulges. In October 2012, her 'Saturn return' is due to provide her with a natural, cosmic 'braking system'. If she can only hang on that long, she could yet mature into a fine, successful and sober artiste!"
While I was writing that little piece, I did what I often do when publications ask me to feature a celebrity. I downloaded her music, played it nice and loud and made a real effort to hear and appreciate it. Actually, It didn't take much effort. Indeed, it took me more effort to stop listening to it. I must have played Frank and Back to Black at least 20 times in the last month. That's probably why when, a couple of weeks later, when Reveal asked me to write about Adele, I clearly still had another singer on my mind.
"Adele and Amy have both have just cancelled their tours. But will both be picking up where they left off? Adele is a tough yet tender Taurean. Some of music's best female 'big voices' have been born under this sign. Ella Fitzgerald, for example. And Cher. Taurus rules 'the throat'. Adele has strained her vocal cords. Top doctors have told her to rest. But imagine what they'd be sued for if they said 'Hey, you'll be just fine to carry on' and turned out to be wrong. Adele is more resilient than she (or they) know. She'll be back on the road soon. I wish I could speak as confidently about Virgo Amy. It is not 'written' that she will fail in her bid to recover from the weakness she wrestles with. But to succeed she'll need the support of us all."
These were the last comments I made in public about Amy Winehouse. But I kept on listening to her music and I kept on wanting to spend more time looking at her chart.
Each time Reveal called me up, inviting me to dedicate my weekly introduction to Cheryl Cole or the Beckhams, I kept wanting to say, "No, let's not do them. Let's do Amy, again."
Something in her chart had suggested that she was reaching a threshold and I imagined that, if I could somehow say something positive, someone might read it to her and this might be able to help, in some small way.
Not that I needed her chart to tell me that things were dire. I had heard the story about her most recent trip to the Priory where, on the way, she stopped the car and went into a shop that just so happened to have an alcohol licence.
Apparently, she bought a bottle of Vodka, glugged the whole thing back in one go... then turned to her driver and said "OK. NOW you can take me to rehab."
Very Rock and Roll. But also, oddly, very Virgo.
It has been suggested that in her early death, Amy has now joined the '27 club', previously populated by Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. Great performers who all died just before their Saturn Return. The Saturn return occurs around the age of 28 or 29, with the exact date varying from person to person. It's a sobering influence that slows us down, sharpens us up, sets us on the road for the next phase of our life... and somehow awakens us to the need to start playing a long game.
It's like a wide, sheltered ledge on the steep cliff that we climb through our twenties. But before we can breathe out in that safe place, we first have to get ourselves to it. At 27, the ledge is near but, from below, you can't necessarily see how close you are to it. And the last mile of any journey is often the toughest.
We'll never know what Amy could have done with the rest of her life. Nor though, will we ever be able to stop wondering. Amy's voice, her singing style, her unique and powerful delivery had already earned her a place of honour in the musician's hall of fame. In years to come, many others will aim to sing like her, to look like her and (gulp) to live like her.
There will though, never be another quite like Amy, as her horoscope confirms. She was hardly a typical Virgo in the way she led her life but she had real Virgo discipline in the way she used that voice, Virgo sensitivity in her lyrics and the deep Virgo discrimination in her musical ear.
Think also about Amy's regular refusal to do what was good for her and her determination to do things her own way. That's so very Virgoan.
Would she have relished the irony of the girl who wrote Rehab, dying at least in part from her own insistence on living out that ludicrous lyric? Why, of course.
She was a Virgo, after all.
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