The saturation shock news coverage of the nearly 100 people killed in Norway by a lone gunman was interrupted to announce that a giant musical talent had died in Camden England. Amy Winehouse died without anyone watching over her.
The images that played repeatedly on Sky News showed an angry defiant young woman with a bouffant beehive hairstyle getting angrily out of a car, her cigarette aimed insolently at the waiting paparazzi. She jerks her grey jacket down tighter over her white shirt. When she growls at a clicking camera, her missing tooth gaping crudely at the world.
Then in a movement reminiscent of the roughest sailor, she drags deeply on her cigarette while turning to look at someone. She's nervous and scared. This is all an act - a terrified response from a frightened little girl.
Amy Winehouse was a significant musical talent despite her turbulent and volatile life. Remarkably she only released two albums, the last 5 years ago. In that short start to what should have been a long and creatively fruitful career, she won almost all the major music awards.
In 2008 she won 8 Grammy awards. In the same year she became the first artist to receive two nominations for the Ivor Novello top award, music and lyrics. She was not a carefully marketed and created pop star. She was the real deal, a brilliant songwriter and an authentic musician. Her lyrics were wise, gutsy and raw. Her raunchy contralto voice was perfectly matched to her lyrics.
Did Amy Winehouse have ADHD. I don't know for sure. Her behaviour indicates overwhelmingly that she did. Some of her fans on her website were in no doubt that she did. Newsweek magazine called her "a perfect storm of sex kitten, raw talent and poor impulse control."
Her life was characterized by erratic behaviour. At one point her record company asked her if she wanted to do another record. "Yes," she told them, "it's coming soon."
They had been waiting two years. The album when it came 2 years later was a sensation.
She had multiple addictions. Alcohol, drugs and sex were her main ones. After her Dad finally got her to go to rehab, she swapped to a new addiction - cleaning her house. She was so out of control, she tried to control what was around her.
Amy Winehouse wrote a song about an aspect of her life that troubled her a lot. It's called Procrastination. All ADDers will relate to the words she penned:
Gotta get this song down before I leave tonight
But my hair, just does it's own thing
And I gotta look alright
And I gotta write a chorus, but words allude me now
I have to get this down before I leave somehow
And anyway I be thinkin' to meet you at the station
Guilty .. cause I should be home
So when they ask me later, I won't tell them how it's going
But now my head is empty, and the work load keeps on growing
This year, 2011, Amy Winehouse joined a tragic but significant club. The 27's. Sounds like a Pollsmoor prison gang doesn't it?
Other members of this group include Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brain Jones of the Rolling Stones, Jim Morrison of the Doors, and Kurt Cobain. The 27's are named for the fact that they all died at age 27.
The people named above all led tortured yet supremely creative lives. The 27's left their mark on the world, and not just the musical world.
Such is the life of ADHD.
So often we don't - can't - fit in.
This article first appeared on Living ADDventure® in July 2013.
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