Amy Winehouse was larger than life, known more for her rampant substance abuse than her considerable musical talent. Fans and critics alike were sure her autopsy would reveal something appropriately sensational, but the news read like an Onion headline: “Winehouse killed by alcohol, not drugs.”
The coroner’s report called it “death by misadventure,” also known as a 5-foot-3-inch waif downing several bottles of vodka. In the U.S., 50,000 people a year are diagnosed with alcohol poisoning, and the World Health Organization relates excessive consumption to nearly 2 million annual deaths.
While being five times over the legal limit is pretty extreme, it seems less “rock star” than other fates of the 27 Club, famously hard-living musicians who all died at age 27. Brian Jones drowned; Jimi Hendrix asphyxiated; Jim Morrison’s heart failed; Janis Joplin “probably” overdosed on heroin; Kurt Cobain shot himself. Mystery and dispute about their deaths endure, but Winehouse having a few too many was no surprise. That she wasn’t riding a flaming motorcycle at the time makes her death more ordinary, but it doesn’t make it any less sad.