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FADE TO BLACK

I can no longer listen to Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" without inducing  chills. To a casual listener in 2006, the opening track of her Grammy-winning Back to Black, could be parroted with levity and echoed through a car stereo on a summer day. The weight of her suffering was easily swept under the rug. But the irony of a multi-platinum, career-defining hit being a cry for help is nothing short of tragic.

After seeing the already critically acclaimed documentary, Amy, the well-known lyrics, "I ain't got the time, and if my daddy thinks I'm fine... he's tried to make me go to rehab, but I won't go, go, go. I'd rather be at home with Ray," are suddenly magnified in stunning and frightening clarity.

As depicted, the year before the song's release, manager, dear friend to Amy and colleague of Simon Fuller, Nick Shymanksy had begun to realize the severity of Amy's substance abuse, although it was just the tip of the iceberg. Essentially kidnapping her, he begs her to enter rehab, and she decides to comply as long as father, Mitch Winehouse, agrees that it's necessary. After driving 50 miles, Mitch responds with a deafening "absolutely not."

The warmly sung, "Ray," now has a face, which belongs to Raye Cosbert, her promoter-turned-manager. Suddenly, clarity has changed everything. The song is not a hit record; it's not even song. It's a letter from a loved one, a diary entry during a dark time, a poem from a broken heart.


To hear someone cry, "I don't ever want to drink again. I just need a friend," before watching her die from lethal levels of alcohol toxicity is hard to digest. Having light shed on the darkness that filled the end of Amy's short life is deserved and painfully beautiful.

    Amy with Nick Shymansky

There's a truly intimate quality to the film that many music documentaries lack. Perhaps it's just because not all musicians had the undeniable sparkle and heart that lived within this effervescent girl who was not suicidal, careless or ready to die as many tabloids suggested at the time. This film forces you to watch the light leave these once-playful eyes, thanks to stardom and pressure that the jazz songstress could never handle. And you're forced to see tastemakers and influential media personalities make light and laughter out of the situation while the world scrambled for a piece of something too fragile to be shared.

From her beginnings as a 16-year-old nonconformist with a big voice and even bigger heart to the buzz of Frank and the explosiveness of Back to Black, tied in with her familial struggles, heartache and search for self-understanding, Amy irrefutably takes its viewers on a whirlwind journey.


Last night, friends of Amy, lovers of her music and lovers of music in general, gathered at the Arclight Hollywood for the film's premiere, hosted by UMG honcho Lucian Grainge, who Amy endearingly referred to as "Uncle Lucian."

Before giving a special shout-out to Chairman/CEO of Universal U.K. David Joseph, who originally came to him with the idea of creating this project with filmmakers Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees, he shared, “You’re going to see an extraordinary film. Amy really was quite unique. She meant so much to so many people. Some of them are in the room. She has shown that she was really, truly, genuinely one of the great artists of all time. What I love about this film so much is that it shows a different side to her that the press and people who didn’t know her but who loved her music might not have seen. Not only her songwriting and her song, her performance, her voice, but her intelligence, her humor, her vulnerability and obviously her humanity. I, for one, think about Amy a lot. And if you knew her, she had this incredible ability to really touch you. And I, for one, miss her very much."

In the film, many members of the music world shared their part in Amy's story, including former Sony Music U.K. boss Nick Gatfield, producer and collaborator Salaam Remi, Pete Doherty, Lucian Grainge, Raye Cosbert, producer and collaborator Mark Ronson, Island U.K.'s Darcus Beese, Republic's Monte Lipman, idol and collaborator Tony Bennett, producer and collaborator Questlove and Mos Def.

  Lucian Grainge and David Joseph with HAIM

Last night's event told the side of her story that needed to be understood. Seen remembering her life and celebrating timeless music were an array of artists an execs including, Grainge, David Joseph, Darcus Beese, Monte Lipman, Nick Shymansky, Scooter Braun, Rick Rubin, Blue Note President Don Was, UMe chief Bruce Resnikoff, Capitol CEO Steve Barnett, Def Jam CEO Steve Bartels, Verve Chairman David FosterOzzy and Sharon OsbourneAimee OsbourneThe Weeknd, Nick Jonas, HAIMAlesso, Diane Warren, and more.

Amy opens in N.Y. and L.A. 7/3, and nationwide 7/10.

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