Today marks the passing of Amy Winehouse, who like many talented musicians passed at the age of 27.  Winehouse garnered far more attention for her issues with substance abuse then she did for her musical talent, which was a shame as her talent had few equals.

Her incredible vocal range and sultry R&B sound crashed the International charts and her 2006 album, Back to Black was a critical and commercial success.  Musically, she did little to follow it up, but she remained in the public eye with her constant issues with paparazzi and drugs. 

What we wonder about is how will she be remembered?  Not to be callous, but death has a way of deifying a musician whether they deserved it or not.  Winehouse was talented and unique and deserved the musical success she got, but her output of music was limited not because she died at 27, but because she recorded virtually nothing after 22.  Although we mourn the loss of her life does not seem tragic; rather it was expected.  Does she become a legend like many other premature Rock and Roll deaths?  This is what we wonder, and did her musical output land her a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame spot?  Rather then debate that today, we are going to listen to Back to Black and just enjoy the music.  

Last modified on Thursday, 19 March 2015 18:47

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0 #3 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
RE: Joplin: It's an intriguing question--wh at would her career have amounted to had she lived? Her debut with Big Brother was sloppy good fun, but her sometimes screeching style ["Piece of My Heart"] still grates on my nerves.

However, Pearl, the album she was recording when she died, might hold the best answer to what Joplin could have achieved. Not just "Me and Bobby McGee," "Cry Baby," and "Move Over," the best-known tracks, but "Half Moon," "Buried Alive in the Blues," and especially "A Woman Left Lonely" show her evolving from a belter to a singer.

Alas, we'll never know.
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0 #2 Committee Chairman -0001-11-30 00:00
I think i am a little biased against Joplin.... I have always felt that she was overrated and believed that she would have just faded away if she lived. Could be way off on that......ju st a gut instinct on her.
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0 #1 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
>>Not to be callous, but death has a way of deifying a musician whether they deserved it or not.

That's not callous--tha t's a fact. And in our celebrity-ob sessed culture, we will have a flurry of attention until the next event arrives, and then we'll see who remembers a year from now. Remember Aaliyah? Lisa Lopes?

Winehouse probably had more talent than both put together, but her legacy amounts to two albums and, as noted here, more notoriety for her personal problems than her retro-soul/j azz approach to urban/contem porary R&B. If alcohol and/or drugs prove(s) to be the cause of death, then "Rehab& quot; is going to prove to be a particularly biting epitaph.

It is a curious coincidence that a number of rock artists died at age 27. The BBC News website notes five others: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, and Kurt Cobain <[censored]://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14264609>.

As for any Hall of Fame consideratio n--first, let's leave aside the fact that the Percy Sledge Travesty opens the door for just about anyone. But two excellent albums and a boatload of potential don't add up to a lasting legacy. Of the five who died at 27, all helped to alter the course of pop music.

Joplin's output was limited but no woman had ever fronted a rock band to the degree she had. Nirvana' s major-label output amounted to three albums, but '90s rock changed direction because of them. The Doors are one of the most overrated bands in rock history, but it's hard to deny that they made their mark, thanks largely to Morrison' ;s posturing, which made possible Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Iggy Stooge/Pop. Jones was integral to the Rolling Stones' ascendancy from blues band extraordinai re to archetypal rock outlaws. And Hendrix was simply a landmark musician whose mark remains indelible.

Did Winehouse manage to change the game during her tenure? She had a better pop sense than Norah Jones without exhibiting the shameless-pi tchwoman approach of Macy Gray while retaining the charisma of Lauren Hill; those are the three artists fairly comparable to Winehouse. I don't think that makes her Hall-worthy.

"We owe respect to the living. To the dead we owe only the truth." -- Voltaire
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