Amy Winehouse seemed to walk willingly into the mould of rock’n’roll cliché, but what is her legacy?
Her songs were largely self-penned, so credit is due for that. And having listened back to a few of them in the last week, some of them are very good; she really could sing. But, in the end, is her undeniable talent the thing that allowed her album sales to rocket or her image to sell magazines?
No. Winehouse’s assets to the industry also included a rather shaky sexuality, which strutted around on spindly legs, and made me feel like a mother watching a child tentatively take their first steps before they fall and the inevitable scrapes and bawling ensue; her vulnerability, which I suppose created the slippery slope, and allowed the paparazzi to take photos of a wandering Amy at different times in blood-stained ballet pumps and bare-foot wearing a bra; a propensity for taking drugs and abusing alcohol, which allowed her story to remain live and her album sales to remain high.
Amy Winehouse was, as much as any of us, exploited as a commodity. Yet she had her wealth and success as a musician, and while death is usually the great equaliser, in this case death has done to her what it can’t do to the rest of us: death will immortalize her music and celebrity. But it all feels rather cheap.
One positive legacy may be added pressure for greater funding and support for rehabilitating drug and alcohol users. The last specialist NHS rehabilitation centre for young people closed down last year.
One can only hope that the untimely death of a star will create the kind of ground swell of support needed to see change in this area.
But, as was rather crassly pointed out to me recently, if the many rehabilitation units needed were reinstated, Amy Winehouse would probably have rejected their attempts to “cure” her.