Friends and colleagues paid tribute to Amy Winehouse on Sunday night at the MTV Video Music Awards. Winehouse never had the chance to perform at the VMAs but last night, fans of the late musician were reminded of her extraordinary vocal ability and commanding presence.
Russell Brand, a close friend of the “Rehab” singer, kicked off the tribute with a poignant speech that mirrored his “For Amy” eulogy posted online.
“She was a mate of mine and tragically this year we lost her,” said Brand. “First time I met her, she was kind of like a daft, dopey person, just wandering around a little bit crazy, like a lot of people who are drawn to big cities with a peculiar, unknowable talent.”
Brand recalled hearing Winehouse sing for the first time. At first glance, she appeared like an “ordinary girl with extraordinary hair” but when he heard her voice, which has often been compared to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, Brand realized he was witnessing raw, amazing talent.
Amy was “not just another person milling about waiting to be famous,” Brand said. “What is this incredible sound? This timeless sound like a roar from the guts of humanity?”
The comedian/actor also urged those battling alcoholism and drug addiction to get help.
“A lot of people just get the disease, not many people get the incredible talent that Amy was blessed with. Let’s remember there is a solution. That solution is available.”
Brand introduced Tony Bennett who recorded “Body and Soul” with Winehouse at Abbey Road Studios in March. Bennett showed a brief preview of footage that revealed a healthy looking Winehouse. The single will appear on Bennett’s upcoming “Duets II” album.
“It was a thrill to record with Amy Winehouse and when you listen to the recording of ‘Body And Soul,’ it is a testament to her artistic genius and her brilliance as one of the most honest musicians I have ever known,” Bennett said in a previous statement.
Bennett then turned the stage over to pop singer, Bruno Mars, who performed a rendition of Winehouse’s “Valerie.” Mars ended the tribute by singing “Amy, we’ll miss you baby.”
Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment on July 23, she was 27. It was well known the singer battled with alcohol and drug dependency throughout her life, but recently a family spokesman announced that toxicology tests showed no illegal substances in Winehouse’s system.
A full investigation will be held on October 26.
Since her death, the surge in sales has made Winehouse’s “Back to Black” the largest selling album of the century in Britain. The 2006 album has now sold over 3 million copies.