Zaterdag overleed zangeres Amy Winehouse. Rond haar huis in Londen verzamelde zich al snel een meute verdrietige fans, lustige journalisten en nieuwsgierige buren. VICE polste er de stemming.
On Saturday afternoon, Amy Winehouse was found dead by her bodyguard at her home in Camden. The police are yet to announce an official cause of death, but a couple of sources have speculated that it may have been the result of her taking “a dodgy pill”. As the news broke, everyone started talking about how she’d just joined Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and all those other dead musicians in “The 27 Club”, while fans, reporters and nosy neighbours gathered at the police cordon outside her house. We went down to gauge the mood.
VICE: Hello, sad day today.
Pamela: Indeed. I love her singing. It’s a huge waste. But I am also a little nosy, and live nearby so I came to see what’s going on. Would you say you saw it coming?
Well, no ‘cause you always hope for the best. I knew she was in and out of rehab but because of her talent I always thought she’d recover.
Does ‘The 27 Club’ mean anything to you?
Do you mean how Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and all those other people died at 27? Yeah, I read about it in the Daily Mail.
Yeah, that’s the one. Do you think it has any significance?
Yes, definitely, but maybe it’s just the age that one reaches their artistic peak. I mean, if you achieve stardom before the age of 20 and go out on a rampage, you’ve only got so many years before the party stops. You know, I was in a band when I was 20, but I quit before it got too weird…
Hey, what’s up?
Sofia: I can’t believe it! I’m only in London for three weeks – I was hoping to bump into her but not like this!
So, Amy meant a lot to you, then?
I just love her music and her lifestyle. She was so fantastic, I love her. She was a part of me. It was her who inspired me to start playing the bass. I’m connected to her.
How do you feel about the way the media has treated her?
It’s hideous! She took drugs because of them, I think. She was dying for them in a way. They are too hard, they shouldn’t treat people like that… It’s just horrible. What do you make of all this 27 Club stuff?
I think people come to an age where they can’t stand the paparazzi anymore. I’m sorry, I’m too upset to talk to you any more.
That’s okay, I hope you feel better soon.
Hey! I see you brought flowers, do you live around here?
Claire: Yeah, I live in Kentish Town just up the road. When I heard the news this morning, I thought the least I could do was come and pay my respects.
Did you ever see her around the neighbourhood?
My housemate did. He was on his way to work one morning and apparently she walked past him. She said she liked his necklace. That’s a nice memory to have I guess…
How do you think she’ll be remembered?
She was amazing, I grew up listening to so many of her songs so she just means so much to me. I think it’s the same for many people my age – I’m 25. She was an icon for young kids. Before she started abusing drugs and alcohol that is.
What about the way the tabloids treated her?
Well, they did chase her, but she did kinda give them a reason to.
Hi, how come you’re here?
Aslahan: You know, it’s strange: I was in Shoreditch earlier with my friend getting some food, and we were talking about her cancelled concert in Istanbul, because that’s where we’re from. We kinda expected it to be cancelled after what happened in Belgrade, but still we were disappointed.
Would you say you could see it coming then?
Yeah, I’m telling you we were talking about it, saying, “Eh, she’s probably going to die soon.” But we didn’t expect it to be that soon! And then another friend called and told us the news. We got very spooked and left everything to come here, to pay our respects. Have you heard about the 27 Club?
Well, people like to talk about the fact that Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Johnson and Kurt Cobain all died at 27 just like Amy…
Oh my God! Do you think that’s why she died? Do you think she committed suicide to be with them?
No I don’t.
Hey guys. Your outfits are glamorous.
Faye: Yeah they’re appropriate aren’t they? We thought it’d be the best way to pay our respects and celebrate her life. Abby’s a singer.
Abby: I’m a singer.
Faye: I don’t think we should get too hung up about her death.
Abby: We are inspired by her.
You must have been shocked by her death though, surely?
Faye: We just wish someone had helped her earlier.
Abby: The tabloids certainly didn’t help.
Faye: the more publicity she got the more out of control she got…
Abby: So as I was saying I am a singer. And I also hope to be an actress. I’m very jazz-influenced, as was Amy…
Faye: Sing a song! Sing “Back to Black”!
Abby: Do you want me to?
Abby: “We only said goodbye with words…”
[TV journalist cuts in]: Hey, girls would you mind speaking to us for a minute?
Abby: “I died a hundred times…”
[Camera lights turn on on us, I’m pushed away.]
Old man: You have such a beautiful voice! Beautiful! You’re singing for God. You’re singing for the angels. Bless her soul.
Hey, you’re obviously upset.
Sonja: She meant so much to me, because she was an addict and I’m a recovering one. But at least she’s out of her misery now. Though she could have sorted herself out. I did.
Do you live around here?
Yes, I actually met her a couple of weeks ago. It was around nine in the morning, and she was walking around with this fella, completely out of it. I asked her for an autograph, and she couldn’t even speak. Her mouth was so dry, the only thing she could say was “A’ight”. But she did give me the autograph.
Well, that’s nice.
So when did you guys hear the sad news?
Acar: I heard at work, and I was shocked to see people go like, “Oh, well” because to me she meant so much more. She’s a Camden artist and I’ve grown up in Camden, and yes, she had her problems, but she was only human. I mean, we met her: she was really cool.
Genevieve: Yeah, we were just sitting right there, outside her house drinking, and she just came out, sat with us, didn’t talk much but she stayed for about ten minutes and she wasn’t rude and she didn’t tell us to go away.
What about the 27 Club theory?
Acar: I think it’s a kind of a curse, or conspiracy. Just think of all the money her company’s going to make now. I mean, they supposedly gave her time to sort herself out. If they wanted this to happen, it would.
Your iPhone’s kinda loud. Are you planning to stay here all night?
Genevieve: Yeah we’re gonna camp here, listen to her music ‘till the morning.
Hello, do you feel all right?
Gejo: I don’t know what to say. Her lyrics were something else. I identified with them. Sometimes I thought her songs were the soundtrack of my life. My partner feels the same way too, we’re both great fans of Amy.
Where is your partner now?
He couldn’t take it, he stayed at home.
How do you feel about the way the media have treated her?
I think it’s been disgusting. Even the BBC, they have done nothing but talk about her addiction today, whereas they should focus on her music. We all knew she was troubled, but that’s not for us to judge.
Hey guys, care to share a few words?
Spencer: We are from Essex, we came all the way here especially for this.
Jane: Yes, to pay our respects.
Spencer: Cause Kerris is a big fan. Kerris and Amber are twins you know. They’re going to be fashion designers, they make beautiful things. You should put that in your article.
Okay I will. So Kerris, what did Amy mean to you?
Kerris: Her music was so inspiring.
*Jane: Where were you going to see her live?*
Kerris: In London…
Amber: …but she didn’t come and it was cancelled.
Jane: It’s a shame that she had to go down that road.
Spencer: …only goes to show that drugs is a killer. Drugs is a killer.
Jane: And her poor dad, who went on the telly in 2008. You could see his desperation trying to bring his daughter back.
Kelly: So sad.
What do you think about the 27 Club?
Kelly: You know, we were just talking about psychic connections tonight and whether that’s part of our predestined nature…
Did you come to any conclusion?
Spencer: Everything happens for a reason dunnit.
Kelly: Maybe they just live so intensely that they just use their life up more quickly than the rest of us.
Spencer: Eventually God takes them.
Thank you guys.