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(Credit: Richard Kelly)

Music

The night that spawned Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’

@TomTaylorFO

The tale of Amy Winehouse remains one that is hard to reconcile. Every question mark remains hard to answer and every pointed finger remains questionable, the only certainty is the sad tragedy that her avoidable death represents. There were many portents along the way but none more obvious than the song ‘Rehab’, a track that literally forecasted her demise in a catastrophically ironic fashion. 

The song wasn’t merely a pop hit playing on tabloid tittle-tattle, it was grounded in an event that could have cost the singer her life back on August 8th, 2007. In the singers favourite London haunt of Camden, she embarked on a pub crawl that could’ve been fatal in itself and raises stark questions about how such extravagant levels of consumption could’ve happened in public. 

That evening after venturing from bar to bar in Camden, the singer succumbed to an overdose. When she was treated by medics, it was discovered that her bloodstream contained a staggering mix of substances. According to toxicology reports, she had consumed a potent mixture of alcohol, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine on the same evening while out on the tiles in a busy London borough. 

At the time, the up-and-coming singer was 23 years old. She arrived at the University College Hospital in London at 1 am. She was administered a shot of adrenaline and had her stomach pumped. In the aftermath, her label claimed she had collapsed due to “severe exhaustion”. The next morning, they stated: “Amy was discharged from the hospital this afternoon and has been advised to take complete rest. Scheduled performances in Norway and Denmark this week have been cancelled.”

Her subsequent hospitalisation, treatment and recovery resulted in the cancellation of her first US tour. Naturally, her record company also requested that the singer enter a rehab facility to treat her addictions, but she refused and then the fateful song later followed. While Winehouse did eventually enter a clinic when similar incidents persisted throughout her career, she never got sober for good. She passed away almost four years on from this overdose on July 23rd, 2011. 

Following the 2007 overdose her father, Mitch Winehouse, gave an interview to the Sun newspaper denying that his daughter had any addiction issues. He stated instead that she had been drinking a bit too much because she was “lovesick” and declared: “You can’t get into rehab for that.” It was his belief that she was merely overindulging when she did drink as opposed the frequently relying on booze. 

When Amy Winehouse was asked about transposing her grim experience into a song and why she nonchalantly glamourised such an experience, she remarked: “With ‘Rehab’ I was walking down the street with Mark Ronson, who produced my last album. I just sang the hook out loud. It was quite silly really.”

Adding, in an interview with The Daily Mail: “Yeah, I sang the whole line exactly as it turned out on the record! Mark laughed and asked me who wrote it because he liked it. I told him that I’d just made it up but that it was true and he encouraged me to turn it into a song, which took me five minutes. It wasn’t hard. It was about what my old management company [run by former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller] wanted me to do.” Now, that dismissal of treatment and the condemnable facile song, reflect a sad message of what could have been.