Bryan Hemming

short stories, comment, articles, humour and photography

Amy Winehouse and Camarón remembered

A sad month for music

Click onto image for more in Psychedelic Camarón series

This weekend saw the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of the legendary Flamenco singer Camarón de la isla on July 2nd 1992 at the relatively young age of 42. He is believed to have died from a heroin overdose.

On the 23rd of July it will be a year since the amazing Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning after a long, horribly public struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. She was only 27. The loss for the families of both singers and the world of entertainment is immeasurable.

An opportune moment to link to an interview Amy Winehouse’s father, Mitch Winehouse, gave to Patrick Strudwick in today’s copy of The Independent. Published under the headline: Mitch Winehouse: ‘I wish it had been me that died, not Amy … You can help all the kids but it’s never going to take the grief away’ her father tells how he now runs a foundation to help drug addicts. The former taxi driver has also written his own no-holds-barred memoirs of Amy’s life in a book. The publisher’s advances of ‘Amy, My Daughter’ – estimated to be well in excess of 1,000,000€ – will go towards the foundation.

My own article on the life Camarón de la isla, whose parents came from my adopted home of Conil, and was born not far away in San Fernando, can be read here: The Tale of the Shrimp – Camarón de la isla

The real tragedy of these and hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths is the result of the ill-conceived ‘war on drugs’ and its four decades of spectacular failures. I write about that at length in: The Myth Peddlars – the war on drugs has failed

5 comments on “Amy Winehouse and Camarón remembered

  1. Diana Trimble
    May 27, 2014

    I’m very glad to see someone else pointing the finger at the “war on (some people who do some) drugs” rather than at the mythical bogeyman of “being an addict”. I totally agree. Same with Philip Seymour Hoffman who bought some tainted crap off the street. Unfortunately, I think that Mitch Winehouse, while obviously sincere, has clearly bought into the recovery industry concept of addiction as a “disease” which it is not. People in general need to have more access to psychotherapy and other healing and self-awareness modalities as well as encounter less social stigma for those who self-medicate. I don’t think anyone “is” an addict, like it was another species or something. I mean, I used to bang speedballs mutliple times a day. I don’t anymore. Am I still “an addict”? It’s not an ism, it’s a behaviour, a coping device that has gone awry. Getting high is fun and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that. Getting high all the time, every day, alone, and despite your world falling apart is a dysfunction that can happen to anyone for a million different reasons, none of them to do with being “born an addict” (unless we are literally talking about an adult crack-baby). I think that a more accurate analysis of why Amy drank herself to death would have to do with the weirdness of being super-famous and having developed a very contrived image to deal with it, being surrounded by a bunch of hanger on friends, having rotten taste in thuggish men who used her and other personal issues. Getting wasted was just a way to deal with it that ended up first canceling out those things and then became its own problem. I wrote a piece about the deaths of Amy Winehouse, Francis Bacon and Fran Landesman, all around the same time in London. You can find it on my occasional essay site, listed below. Good job with this. I can’t wait to read your


    • Bryan Hemming
      May 27, 2014

      Thanks for your considered reply. Drugs, legal or illegal, are part of life just as booze is. The biggest problem with using them is having to deal with criminals or being caught by the police. Criminals cut drugs with crap whenever they feel the need, and the police regard drug users as scum, yet they regard getting smashed on alcohol down at the pub as just a laddish game. I am neither for or against drugs or alcohol, having used both during my life. Definitely people like Amy attract a lot of unsavoury types, who are out to use them for whatever they want or can get.

      I can’t wait to read the end of your comment, as you seem to have missed it out. If you send it as another comment I will cut and paste it onto the existing comment, as it was meant to be. Now I’m off to try to get to your site.


  2. Sometimes, a death due to drugs isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
    I think Michael Jackson’s death threw up a lot of food for thought.
    RIP, guys.


  3. WordsFallFromMyEyes
    July 10, 2012

    I’m not aware of the ill-conceived ‘war on drugs’. Is it in Spain, this determined war, or do you mean it’s a worldwide war against – just curious, because when you say that I imagine someone declared that war (like Bush & the ‘war on terror’) & I was curious who/where.

    Great reminder here, Bryan. You know, alcohol…man, I’d like to know her story: when she first drank, when drink began to strangle her, & why she chose to self-sabotage threefold every gem of beauty she delivered in performance.


    • Bryan Hemming
      July 10, 2012

      The war on drugs was a phrase coined by Richard Nixon in the US in 1973. Have a look at the link.

      Like prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s it has encouraged mafias to spring up all over the world and make massive profits by benefiting from the very war that was supposed to stop them.

      Prohibition was considered to have failed in 1929, if I remember rightly, yet the war on drugs continues almost forty years after its inception with more and more people dying, not from the drugs themselves, but from the crimes associated with the growing, processing and distribution of drugs. It is one of the biggest failures in history, along with the bank crisis, and the war on terrorism. Our ‘leaders’ have completley lost the plot and keep touting failure as success.


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This entry was posted on July 10, 2012 by in Articles, Music and tagged , , , , .

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