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Billy Bragg on Death of Fellow British Singer-Songwriter, Amy Winehouse: “Maybe We Were All Complicit”

Web ExclusiveAugust 01, 2011
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While on tour in the United States, legendary British rocker and activist, Billy Bragg, joined Democracy Now! for an extended interview. One of the many topics he discussed was the tragic death of the British singer-songwriter, Amy Winehouse. “I’m very, very sorry that someone as clearly as talented as Amy should have succumbed in that way. And in some ways, we, all of us, could see it was a likely outcome, and perhaps a little bit more might have been done to help her out. Maybe we’re all a little bit complicit in that,” said Bragg of the star who was known for her hit song “Rehab,” and for her Grammy-winning album, Back to Black.

Click on the video above to watch the full excerpt of Billy Bragg’s comments about Amy Winehouse. You can also see the video on YouTube.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking just a week after Amy Winehouse died. Did you know her?

BILLY BRAGG: No, very—you know, in passing. You know, I did a few festivals where she was on. But that whole, you know, glamorization of people in my industry who do clearly have problems with substance abuse is—you know, it’s not something that I’ve ever wanted to glorify. You know, it’s a very strange job, Amy, the job that we do. You know, you spend a lot of time on your own, really, between gigs. You know, it’s—

AMY GOODMAN: Between on your own and facing thousands of people.

BILLY BRAGG: Yeah, on tour. You know, on tour, you’re often away from the people that you love. You know, you’ve got that focus in the evening of the show, but the rest of the time, you know—I’m very fortunate. You know, I’m curious. I’ll just walk around the streets, looking in shops. If we’re driving somewhere, I want to see it. I don’t want to have my eyes closed. I’ll find a nice book. You know, I love going in bookshops. Not everybody’s like that. Some people want to dull the pain. Some people want to find ways to switch out. And that’s the—that is the great challenge, particularly when you’re successful. It’s a challenge. Charlie Watts, the drummer from The Rolling Stones, was once asked about what it was like being in The Stones for 25 years, and he said it was five years of playing drums and 20 years of hanging around waiting to play drums. And that’s the reality for all of us. And if you can’t deal with that, that bit of it, if you can’t find a way to take up the time between the shows, it can be quite destructive.

And I’m very, very sorry that someone as clearly as talented as Amy should have succumbed in that way. And, you know, in some ways, we, all of us, could see it was a likely outcome, and perhaps a little bit more might have been done to help her out. Maybe—you know, maybe we’re all a little bit complicit in that. You know, in the 1960s, you kind of understand it, because they were the sort of the first generation. They didn’t really know what they were messing with. But now, you know, you can see those kind of things coming, and I think we should be spending a bit more time intervening.

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