Like everyone else, when we saw the video of Amy Winehouse’s disastrous performance in Belgrade, Serbia, we were horrified. Just when things were starting to look up for the “Back to Black” singer, she managed to self-sabotage yet again, leading to canceled tour dates in Istanbul and Athens and buzz that her 12-date comeback tour may be scrapped entirely.
In video from the concert, Winehouse stumbles around the stage unable to remember the lyrics to her own songs. Barely able to stand, she brought a member of her band to the mic to sing “Valerie.” It was tragic.
The performance stands in marked contrast to one she put on just six days earlier at London’s 100 Club. According to sources at that show, “Amy was on fantastic form. She looked and sounded great. It was like one of her old performances.” The London show was her first live performance since a string of mostly well-received dates in Brazil earlier this year.
So what gives? Read on for our theory (and it’s just that – we blog, we do not know or treat Winehouse nor are we featured on Intervention).
Booze. Booze gives.
Late last year, Winehouse told Britain’s The Sun newspaper that she had kicked all of her old vices, including (but perhaps not limited to) heroin, cocaine, crack and ecstasy. “I'm much healthier now,” Winehouse said. “I used to use drugs and I haven't used drugs in almost three years. It's not a hard thing. … I literally woke up one day and was like, 'I don't want to do this anymore.'”
The funny thing is, we believe her. In early 2008, the singer left Britain for an extended stay in St. Lucia to detox. She has mostly laid low since, but when she has made her way into the spotlight – for a surprise appearance at “Back to Black” producer Mark Ronson’s gig at 100 Club last summer, for example – she’s looked like her old self. During the height of her drug problems, she often appeared emaciated, her skin grey. These days (including at the Belgrade show) she at least resembles the Amy Winehouse who blew our socks off with tunes like “Rehab,” “F**k Me Pumps” and “Valerie.”
So that leaves alcohol, which she has never claimed to have given up. Indeed, when she has found herself in trouble in recent years, booze has been the catalyst. And while alcohol is a legal drug, that doesn’t mean it is any less dangerous when abused than any of the illicit drugs she used to abuse.
At the height of her drug problem, Winehouse was repeatedly hospitalized after overdoing on various substances. She doesn’t appear to know her limit, regardless of what she is using. It was true of heroin and crack in 2007, and it appears true of alcohol in 2011.
Reading the flurry of comments that appear on every article detailing the Belgrade debacle, we’ve been struck by one thing: the schadenfreude that exists in stories about the misfortunes of other celebrities isn’t as present in reports on Winehouse. Instead, disappointment rules the forums. More than anything else, people are sad that this incredibly talented woman’s life remain in shambles.
And we get it. We’re sad too. We’d give just about anything to have her powerful talent off the gossip pages and back on the charts where it belongs.