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Image: Amy Winehouse and Russell Brand
Dave Hogan  /  Getty Images file
Russell Brand hugs Amy Winehouse in 2006. Brand, himself a recovering addict, wrote a touching blog post about the singer's life and struggles.
updated 7/24/2011 2:48:38 PM ET 2011-07-24T18:48:38

As a recovering heroin addict, Russell Brand has a soft spot for Amy Winehouse. In a Sunday morning blog post, the 36-year-old "Arthur" star — who has been sober since 2002 — reflects on the life of the British soul singer, who was found dead in her London apartment Saturday at the age of 27.

VIDEO: Remembering Amy Winehouse (1983-2011)

"I've known Amy Winehouse for years. When I first met her around Camden she was just some twit in a pink satin jacket shuffling round bars with mutual friends, most of whom were in cool Indie bands or peripheral Camden figures Withnail-ing their way through life on impotent charisma," Brand writes.

Slideshow: Russell Brand's many roles (on this page)
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"Carl Barrat told me that 'Winehouse' (which I usually called her and got a kick out of cos it's kind of funny to call a girl by her surname) was a jazz singer, which struck me as a bizarrely anomalous in that crowd. To me, with my limited musical knowledge this information placed Amy beyond an invisible boundary of relevance; 'Jazz singer? She must be some kind of eccentric,' I thought. I chatted to her anyway though, she was after all, a girl, and she was sweet and peculiar but most of all vulnerable."

PHOTOS: Amy and other stars who died at 27

"I was myself at that time barely out of rehab and was thirstily seeking less complicated women so I barely reflected on the now glaringly obvious fact that Winehouse and I shared an affliction, the disease of addiction. All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they're not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but un-ignorable veil. Whether a homeless smack head troubling you for 50 pence for a cup of tea or a coked-up, pinstriped exec foaming off about his 'speedboat,' there is a toxic aura that prevents connection. They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they're looking through you to somewhere else they'd rather be. And of course they are. The priority of any addict is to anesthetize the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief."

Story: Singer Amy Winehouse found dead in London home

"From time to time I'd bump into Amy she had good banter so we could chat a bit and have a laugh, she was 'a character' but that world was riddled with half cut, doped up chancers, I was one of them, even in early recovery I was kept afloat only by clinging to the bodies of strangers so Winehouse, but for her gentle quirks didn’t especially register."

PHOTOS: Amy Winehouse's tumultuous life

Brand — who wed American pop star Katy Perry in October 2010 — hadn't witnessed Winehouse's undeniable talent until he saw her open for Paul Weller at the Roundhouse.

"I arrived late and as I made my way to the audience through the plastic smiles and plastic cups I heard the rolling, wondrous resonance of a female vocal. Entering the space I saw Amy on stage with Weller and his band; and then the awe. The awe that envelops when witnessing a genius. From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie [Holiday] and Ella [Fitzgerald], from the font of all greatness. A voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine. My ears, my mouth, my heart and mind all instantly opened," he writes. "Winehouse. Winehouse? Winehouse! That twerp, all eyeliner and lager dithering up Chalk Farm Road under a back-combed barnet, the lips that I'd only seen clenching a fishwife fag and dribbling curses now a portal for this holy sound. So now I knew. She wasn't just some hapless wannabe, yet another pissed up nit who was never gonna make it, nor was she even a ten-a-penny-chanteuse enjoying her fifteen minutes. She was a f**king genius."

Story: Family: Winehouse's death leaves 'gaping hole'

"Shallow fool that I am, I now regarded her in a different light, the light that blazed down from heaven when she sang. That lit her up now and a new phase in our friendship began. She came on a few of my TV and radio shows, I still saw her about but now attended to her with a little more interest. Publicly though, Amy increasingly became defined by her addiction. Our media though is more interested in tragedy than talent, so the ink began to defect from praising her gift to chronicling her downfall. The destructive personal relationships, the blood soaked ballet slippers, the aborted shows, that YouTube madness with the baby mice. In the public perception this ephemeral tittle-tattle replaced her timeless talent. This and her manner in our occasional meetings brought home to me the severity of her condition," he continues.

VIDEO: Singer Daniel Merriweather shares his memories of Amy

"Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death. I was 27 years old when through the friendship and help of Chip Somers of the treatment centre, Focus12, I found recovery. Through Focus I was introduced to support fellowships for alcoholics and drug addicts which are very easy to find and open to anybody with a desire to stop drinking and without which I would not be alive."

Story: Winehouse was more than 'Rehab' caricature

"Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticized at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease."

"Not all addicts have Amy's incredible talent. Or Kurt [Cobain]'s or Jimi [Hendrix]'s or Janis [Joplin]'s. Some people just get the affliction. All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill. We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care. We need to look at the way our government funds rehabilitation. It is cheaper to rehabilitate an addict than to send them to prison, so criminalization doesn't even make economic sense. Not all of us know someone with the incredible talent that Amy had but we all know drunks and junkies and they all need help and the help is out there. All they have to do is pick up the phone and make the call. Or not. Either way, there will be a phone call."

Winehouse is survived by her parents, Mitch and Janis, and her older brother, Alex.

Copyright 2012 Us Weekly

Photos: Russell Brand

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  1. Bunny 'Hop'

    Actor and comedian Russell Brand provides the voice of a teenage rabbit who becomes the Easter Bunny in the 2011 film "Hop." Since the rabbit was animated, co-star Kaley Cuoco told E! Online that she never worked with Brand, but instead with a bean bag rabbit. "I prefer the bean bag actually," she joked. "It didn't talk back." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Between the moon and New York City

    Brand plays the lead character, drunken playboy Arthur Bach, in the 2011 remake of 1981's "Arthur." (Barry Wetcher / Warner Bros) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Just call me angel

    Brand kisses wife Katy Perry at the 2011 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011. She wore a custom-made Giorgio Armani gown and feather wings, and he matched with a Giorgio Armani suit. Their 2010 wedding was held near a tiger sanctuary in India, the same location where he proposed after they'd known each other for just two months. (Mike Nelson / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Mama's boy

    Brand and mother Barbara Brand pose at the Vanity Fair Oscar party held in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. Brand, an only child, lived with relatives when he was young while his mother was treated for uterine and breast cancer. (Craig Barritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Brush up on your Shakespeare

    In 2010, Brand played the jester Trinculo, along with Alfred Molina as Stephano and Djimon Hounsou as Caliban in the movie version of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest." (Touchstone Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Britannia rules the waves

    Brand and Jonah Hill, his co-star in 2010's "Get Him to the Greek," pose with bikini-clad ladies by London's Tower Bridge on Sunday, June 20, 2010. In the film, Brand plays a drug-addled rocker and Hill is the hapless talent scout who must safely guide him to a concert in L.A. (Joel Ryan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Time for bed

    In 2008, Brand starred with Adam Sandler in "Bedtime Stories," a family comedy about a hotel handyman who suddenly finds his fanciful stories coming true. (Walt Disney Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Devilish grin

    Brand poses at the premiere of "Bedtime Stories" in Los Angeles on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008. (Dan Steinberg / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'Forget' me not

    Brand's character from "Get Him to the Greek" was actually introduced in 2008's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Again he played rocker Aldous Snow, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, with Kristen Bell as Sarah, his new girlfriend. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Story of my life

    Brand's autobiography, "My Booky Wook," was published in 2007 and received generally positive reviews. The New York Times Book Review called it "a child's garden of vices." He's since published two other books, including a sequel to "My Booky Wook." (Bryan Bedder / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Supporting a cause

    Brand and Sean "Diddy" Combs attend the White Party hosted by Combs and Ashton Kutcher to help raise awareness for Malaria No More in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2009. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images/Getty Images for Bl) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Premiere Of Universal Pictures' & Illumination Entertainment's "HOP" - Red Carpet
    Kevin Winter / Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (11) Russell Brand
  2. Image: Mitch Winehouse, the father of deceased British singer Amy Winehouse, arrives at Golders Green Crematorium in London
    Luke Macgregor / Reuters
    Slideshow (28) Amy Winehouse: 1983-2011

Timeline: Life and times of Winehouse

A look at her early musical success, personal stumbles and unexpected death at age 27.

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