In just 27 years, Amy Winehouse has managed to leave behind her a soul legacy, Sadly, however, the immeasurably gifted singer is unlikely to be remembered for her singing but for her tempestuous relationship, excessive drinking, drug abuse and troubles with the Law.
Amy Winehouse was born in 1983, a second child to cab driver Mitch and his wife Janis, a pharmacist, from North London. Her parents split when she was nine years old and she and older brother Alex moved to live with their mother in Southgate, North London
The balance between her precocious musical talents and a seeming inclination towards self-destruction was clear from an early age, with her rebellious streak getting her into trouble on numerous occasions leading father Mitch to say of her ‘She was always very self-willed,’ ‘Not badly behaved but…different.’
She joined the Brit School and by 16 her otherworldly soul voice – deep, full and knowing but light and fresh and fragile at the same time – had won her a contract with Simon Fuller’s management company, which led to her being signed by Island Records.
In 2003, she released her first album – The jazz-influenced album entitled ‘Frank’,- it garnered much critical acclaim earning an Ivor Novello songwriting award, two Brit nominations and a spot on the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize.
It was also around this time that Amy met Blake Fielder-Civil and began an infamously tempestuous on-off relationship with him, involving drug and drink binges.
By 2006, after three years with Blake, rapid weight loss, an ever-expanding beehive hairdo and documented drug and drink problems, Winehouse released Back to Black, her breakthrough album, which made her a huge star across the world, fusing soul, jazz, doo-wop, it went on to win five Grammy awards, including song and record of the year for Rehab.
Even back then, Winehouse’s performances were sometimes shambolic, and she admitted to being ‘a terrible drunk., her personal life Increasingly began to overshadow her career. She also acknowledged struggling with eating disorders and said that she had been diagnosed as manic depressive but refused to take medication. Soon accounts of her erratic behavior, canceled concerts and drink and drug-fueled nights began to appear forcing Winehouse’s managers to go to increasingly desperate lengths to keep the wayward star on the straight and narrow.
Sadly she was not able to follow up the success of Back to Black, Her rendition of The Zutons’ Valerie was a hit for producer Mark Ronson but sadly other recording projects with Ronson, came to nothing. Though she was often reported to be working on new material, fans got tired of waiting for the much-promised follow up to Back to Black.
Her increasingly erratic behaviour also led to numerous run-ins with the law, it was also at this time that she broke up with Blake, going out with chef Alex Claire, but got back together with her former lover, whom she married in Miami. Unfortunately this renewed relationship with Blake led to more cancelled tours and hospital visits after overdosing on drugs. A day after being told she had received three MTV Video Music Award nods, the singer was rushed to the University College London Hospital after one such overdose, which was initially dismissed as ‘exhaustion’. This prompted worried relatives to say ‘ they both need to get medical help before one of them, if not both of them, eventually dies.’
Fielder-Civil also had many run-ins with the law, and was arrested on numerous occasions. with his excessive drinking and drug use leading to many stays in Hospital for Amy. In June 2008 after one of many hospital stays She left to perform at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert in Hyde Park, and at the Glastonbury festival the next day, where she received a rousing reception.
Sadly though most of her performances were increasingly shambolic and she had pulled out of her European tour after she was jeered while appearing drunk on stage at her comeback gig in Serbia.She left the stage frequently, with her band having to improvise in her absence, and was said to have mumbled through parts of her songs.
Her excessive drinking and Drug Abuse were also taking their toll on her health too and in a bid to save her ailing health and desperate addiction problems, Winehouse most recently booked herself into rehab at The Priory in May where it was hoped finally to refocus the young singer. Winehouse, however, checked herself out after just one week. It appears that despite her prodigious talent She never found serenity through her music and her amazing natural talent, and turned to drugs, alchohol instead as a means of escaping her troubles, with tragic consequences
in death, Winehouse joins many of her heroes – Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison – all of whom died aged just 27.