AMY WINEHOUSE was the showbiz phenomenon who had everything.
A glorious voice, adoring fans, a loving family. And a husband.
She won award after award for her singing and songwriting and her admirers worldwide were - and are - innumerable.
But this young Londoner is haunted by the demons she and her false friends called up.
She has become a drug addict who is teetering on the edge of terminal illness and mental breakdown.
She has cancelled more gigs than she has played in the past year.
And the once curvy, self-described 'Jewish princess' with the big voice has shrunk into a stick-thin directory of the nightmares lying in wait for the careless or careworn young - and not so young.
Now she is diagnosed with emphysema, attributed to tobacco, drugs and booze
She is in such a fragile state that even one cigarette could bring on an attack that could end in her gasping her life away.
The self-destruction of this brilliant young singer is echoed by the other British musical genius, who is always in the headlines - Pete Doherty.
Kate Moss's former boyfriend is regularly busted for drugs, but escapes jail only because the various judges realised that no one can cure him but himself, and this hopeless addict either can't or won't do anything to help himself break free of the chemicals that are rotting his brain
But Amy, who is only 24, is a different story from the decadent Doherty. She really does realise her plight and she deserves support.
She is genuinely trying to pull back from the abyss but she has her problems.
Her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, is in jail. The man who some say introduced her to hard drugs via the immediately-addictive crack cocaine is serving a sentence for assaulting a pub landlord and perverting the course of justice by trying to bribe the victim to call off the case.
It was said in court that he offered a large sum to a fellow convict to beat up Pete Doherty, who is supposed to have been calling on Amy.
Yet there may be some good after all.
Amy's father Mitch, a former London taxi-driver, holds out hope that when Fielder-Civil - now reportedly free of his own drug addiction - gets out of jail in December, he will persuade her to leave to live in the country in a house with a gate and a high wall
They can easily afford to live in style, for her records have earned her a staggering £20 million ($54 million), according to the Sunday Times' Rich List. And her potential is incalculable.
I hope she straightens out, for Amy has so much to offer.
After all she has been compared with such towering talents as Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald and Edith Piaf.
She won five Grammy awards, and her latest album, Back to Black, sold nine million copies.
What's more, even in her darkest hours, she has composed songs so tender, so heartrending that genius shines through every line.
And the girl who used to dream of becoming a rollerskating waitress is only 24. If only she can break her habit, the world will be enriched by her blazing talent.
As I write this, I reflect on the loose-living booze and drug culture in her part of London. And compare it with Singapore's well-deserved, and sometimes mocked, policy of a squeaky-clean society.
Zero-tolerance to drug dealers and smugglers and an enlightened attitude to rehabilitation, makes it a model for the whole world.
Countries who are battling belatedly with the inexorable rise of addiction and readily available hard drugs should reflect on Singapore's success.
It would be a pity to see another Amy Winehouse destroy her life.
This article was first published in The New Paper on Aug 4, 2008.