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MTV VMAs: Russell Brand pays tribute to Amy Winehouse

August 28, 2011 |  8:37 pm

Russell Brand tribute to Amy Winehouse
MTV had Russell Brand introduce the Bruno Mars-anchored tribute to Amy Winehouse, and with little time Brand gave a rather passionate, honest speech. It echoed his "For Amy" eulogy that he posted online, and he recognized Winehouse as "not just another person milling about waiting to be famous."

Brand noted Winehouse's unique voice as one that could stop a person in his tracks, and retold the tale of being taken by surprise by Winehouse as he was on his way to see Paul Weller. He name-checked Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, and took the time to stress that Winehouse wasn't addled by addiction but infected with a disease. "A lot of people just get the disease," Brand said, "not the talent." 

Brand then introduced Tony Bennett, who gave a short preview of his upcoming "Duets II," which features Winehouse and Bennett tackling jazz/soul classic "Body and Soul." It felt a little promotional, but the teaser showed Winehouse looking as healthy as she ever had, so it ultimately struck a bittersweet tone.

If there was a major flaw in MTV's tribute to Winehouse, it was booking Mars to sing "Valerie," a Zutons song that Winehouse covered with Mark Ronson. Mars is a suitable pop chameleon, and Winehouse was anything but. He's a featherweight star, and though Mars isn't going to embarrass anyone's legacy, the performance never hinted at the outsize personality of the late star.


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 -- Todd Martens

 Photo: Russell Brand. Credit: Matt Sayles/Associated Press