HERE IS AN UPDATED BACKGROUND AND TRIBUTE TO THE ICONIC AND NOW TRAGICALLY DECEASED MUSIC ICON – AMY WINEHOUSE WHO DIED AT HOME IN CAMDEN , LONDON ON THE 23RD JULY 2011 AND WHOSE FUNERAL WAS ON THE 26TH JULY 2011 .
As we have long featured the sadly turbulent career and mass of tabloid sensationalism that has plagued her short life here at the jail …….. here is some more interactive news report footage of her untimely death and soon after private funeral .
Here at the jail we have a great many personal signed photographs from Amy Winehouse pieced together in a now historical archive of montage displays , to include a great many tabloid extracts that have covered her life and success
Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was an English singer-songwriter known for her powerful contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres including R&B, soul and jazz.
Winehouse’s 2003 debut album, Frank, was critically successful in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Her 2006 follow-up album, Back to Black, led to six Grammy Award nominations and five wins, tying the then record for the most wins by a female artist in a single night, and made Winehouse the first British female to win five Grammys, including three of the “Big Four“: Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. On 14 February 2007, she won a BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist; she had also been nominated for Best British Album. She won the Ivor Novello Award three times, one in 2004 for Best Contemporary Song (musically and lyrically) for “Stronger Than Me“, one in 2007 for Best Contemporary Song for “Rehab“, and one in 2008 for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for “Love Is a Losing Game“, among other distinctions. The album was the third biggest seller of the 2000s in the United Kingdom.
Winehouse was credited as an influence in the rise in popularity of female musicians and soul music, and also for revitalising British music. Winehouse’s distinctive style made her a muse for fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld. Winehouse’s problems with drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and her self-destructive behaviours were regular tabloid news from 2007 until her death. She and her former husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, were plagued by legal troubles that left him serving prison time. In 2008, Winehouse faced a series of health complications that threatened both her career and her life.
Winehouse was born in the Southgate area of north London to a Jewish family, who were influential toward her interest in jazz. Winehouse was the daughter of Mitchell Winehouse, a taxi driver, and Janis Winehouse (née Seaton), a pharmacist. She had one brother, Alex, who was four years older than her. Mitchell often sang Frank Sinatra songs to young Amy, who also took to a constant habit of singing to the point that teachers found it difficult keeping her quiet in class.Early life
When Winehouse was nine years old, her grandmother, Cynthia, suggested she attend the Susi Earnshaw Theatre School for further training. At age ten, Winehouse founded a short-lived rap group called Sweet ‘n’ Sour with childhood friend Juliette Ashby. She stayed at the Earnshaw school for four years before seeking full time training at Sylvia Young Theatre School, but was allegedlyexpelled at 14 for “not applying herself” and for piercing her nose. With other children from the Sylvia Young School, she appeared in an episode of The Fast Show in 1997. She later attended The Mount School, Mill Hill and then the BRIT School in Selhurst, Croydon and attended Southgate School and Ashmole School.
After toying with her brother’s guitar, Winehouse received her first guitar when she was 13, and began writing music a year later. She began working soon after, including as a showbiz journalist for theWorld Entertainment News Network, in addition to singing with local group the Bolsha Band. Her boyfriend at the time, soul singer Tyler James, sent her demo tape to an A&R person.Winehouse signed to Simon Fuller‘s 19 Management in 2002. While being developed by the management company, the artist was kept an industry secret. Her future A&R representative at Island/Universal, Darcus Beese, heard her by accident when the manager of The Lewinson Brothers showed him some productions of his clients on which Winehouse featured as vocalist. When he asked who the singer was the manager told him he was not allowed to say. Having decided that he wanted to sign her it took several months of asking around for Beese to eventually discover who the singer was. By this time Winehouse had already recorded a number of songs and signed a publishing deal with EMI. Through the publishers she formed a working relationship with the producer Salaam Remi.
Beese introduced Winehouse to his boss, Nick Gatfield, and the Island head shared his enthusiasm in signing the young artist. Winehouse was signed to Island/Universal as rival interest in Winehouse had started to build, with representatives at EMI and Virgin also starting to make moves. Beese told HitQuarters that he felt the reason behind the excitement over an artist who was an atypical pop star for the time was due to a backlash against reality TV music shows with audiences becoming starved for genuine young talent.
Major label success and Frank
Performing at the Bowery Ballroom, New York City in 2007
Winehouse’s debut album, Frank, was released on 20 October 2003. Produced mainly by Salaam Remi, many songs were influenced by jazz and, apart from two covers, every song was co-written by Winehouse. The album received positive reviews with compliments over the “cool, critical gaze” in its lyricsand brought comparisons of her voice to Sarah Vaughan, Macy Gray and others.
The album entered the upper levels of the UK album chart in 2004 when it was nominated for BRIT Awards in the categories of “British Female Solo Artist” and “British Urban Act”. It went on to achieve platinum sales. Later in 2004, she won the Ivor Novello (songwriting) Award for Best Contemporary Song, alongside Salaam Remi, with her contribution to the first single, “Stronger Than Me“. The album also made the short list for the 2004 Mercury Music Prize. In the same year, she performed at the Glastonbury Festival, the V Festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival (7 July 2004, at the Club Soda), and on the Jazzworld stage. After the release of the album, Winehouse commented that she was “only 80 percent behind [the] album” because of the inclusion by her record label of certain songs and mixes she disliked.
International success and Back to Black
In contrast to her jazz-influenced former album, Winehouse’s focus shifted to the girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s. Winehouse hired New York singerSharon Jones‘s longtime band, the Dap-Kings to back her up in the studio and on tour. In May 2006, Winehouse’s demonstration tracks such as “You Know I’m No Good” and “Rehab” appeared onMark Ronson‘s New York radio show on East Village Radio. These were some of the first new songs played on the radio after the release of “Pumps” and both were slated to appear on her second album. The 11-track album was produced entirely by Salaam Remi and Ronson, with the production credits being split between them. Ronson said in a 2010 interview that he liked working with Winehouse because she was blunt when she did not like his work. Promotion of Back to Black soon began and, in early October 2006, Winehouse’s official website was relaunched with a new layout and clips of previously unreleased songs. Back to Black was released in the UK on 30 October 2006. It went to number one on the UK Albums Chart numerous times, and entered at number seven on the Billboard 200 in the United States. It was the best-selling album in the UK in 2007, selling 1.85 million copies over the year.
21-second audio sample from Amy Winehouse’s first hit
25-second audio sample from one of the standout tracks on “Back to Black” album
Originally performed by The Shirelles in the 1960s, this version slows the tempo down and features a jazz arrangement.
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The album spawned a number of singles. The first single released from the album was the Ronson-produced “Rehab”. The song reached the top ten in the UK and the US. Time magazine named “Rehab” the Best Song of 2007. Writer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, saying, “What she is is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy” and “It’s impossible not to be seduced by her originality. Combine it with production by Mark Ronson that references four decades worth of soul music without once ripping it off, and you’ve got the best song of 2007.” The album’s second single and lead single in the US, “You Know I’m No Good”, was released in January 2007 with a remixfeaturing rap vocals by Ghostface Killah. It ultimately reached number 18 on the UK singles chart. The title track, “Back to Black“, was released in the UK in April 2007 and peaked at number 25, but was more successful across mainland Europe. “Tears Dry on Their Own“, “Love Is a Losing Game” and “Just Friends” were also released as singles, but failed to achieve the same level of success.
A deluxe edition of Back to Black was also released on 5 November 2007 in the UK. The bonus disc features B-sides, rare, and live tracks, as well as “Valerie”. Winehouse’s debut DVD I Told You I Was Trouble: Live in London was released the same day in the UK and 13 November in the US. It includes a live set recorded at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire and a 50-minute documentary charting the singer’s career over the previous four years. Frank was released in the United States on 20 November 2007 to positive reviews. The album debuted at number 61 on the Billboard 200 chart.
In addition to her own album, she collaborated with other artists on singles. Winehouse was a vocalist on the song “Valerie” on Ronson’s solo album Version. The song peaked at number two in the UK, upon its October single release. The song was nominated for a 2008 Brit Award for “Best British Single”. Her work with ex-Sugababe Mutya Buena, “B Boy Baby“, was released on 17 December 2007. It served as the fourth single from Buena’s solo debut album, Real Girl.
Continued success and acclaim
Winehouse performing at Eurockéennesin 2007
By year’s end, Winehouse had garnered numerous accolades and awards. The singer won 2008 Grammy Awards in the categories of Record of the Year,Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Rehab”, while her album Back to Black was nominated for Album of the Year and won the Best Pop Vocal Album award. Producer Mark Ronson’s work with her won the award in the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical category. The singer also earned a Grammy in the Best New Artist category. This earned Winehouse an entry in the 2009 edition of theGuinness Book of World Records for Most Grammy Awards won by a British Female Act. She performed “You Know I’m No Good” and “Rehab” at the awards ceremony via satellite, as her visa approval came through too late for her to travel to the US. She said “This is for London because Camden town is burning down”, in reference to the Camden Market fire. After the Grammy Awards, album sales increased catapulting Back to Black to number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 after initially peaking at number seven. On 13 January 2008, Back to Black held the number one position on the Billboard Pan European charts for the third straight week. In January 2008, Universal Music International said it believed that there was a correlation between number of albums sold and the extensive media coverage the singer had received.
A special deluxe edition of Back to Black topped the UK album charts on 2 March 2008. The original edition of the album resided at the number 30 position, in its 68th week on the charts, while “Frank” charted at number 35. By 12 March, the album had sold a total of 2,467,575 copies, 318,350 of those in the previous 10 weeks, putting the album on the UK’s top 10 best-selling albums of the 21st century for the first time. On 7 April, Back to Black was residing at the top position on the pan-European charts for the sixth consecutive and thirteenth aggregate week.Back to Black was the world’s seventh biggest selling album for 2008. These sales helped keep Universal Music’s recorded music division from dropping to levels experienced by the overall music market.
At the 2008 Ivor Novello Awards, Winehouse became the first artist to receive two nominations for the top award, best song, musically and lyrically. She won the award for “Love Is a Losing Game” and was nominated for “You Know I’m No Good”. “Rehab”, a Novello winner for best contemporary song in 2006, also received a 2008 nomination for best-selling British song. Winehouse was nominated for a MTV Europe Award in the Act of The Year category.Amy Winehouse – The Girl Done Good: A Documentary Review, a 78-minute DVD, was released on 14 April 2008. The documentary features interviews with those who knew her at a young age, helped her gain success, jazz music experts, as well as music and pop culture specialists. A clip of Winehouse’s music is included in the “Roots and Influences” area that looks at connections between different artists at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC, which opened in December 2008. One thread starts with Billie Holiday continues with Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige and finishes with Winehouse. In a poll of United States residents conducted for VisitBritain by Harris Interactive that was released in March 2009, one fifth of those polled indicated they had listened to Winehouse’s music during the previous year. Winehouse performed with Rhythms del Mundo on their cover of the Sam Cooke song “Cupid” for an Artists Project Earth benefit album that was released on 13 July 2009.
Winehouse and Mark Ronson contributed a cover of Lesley Gore‘s “It’s My Party” to the Quincy Jones tribute album Q Soul Bossa Nostra released 9 November 2010. Winehouse and drummer?uestlove of the Roots had agreed to form a group. Winehouse’s problems obtaining a visa delayed the still unnamed group from working together. Producer Salaam Remi has already created some material with Winehouse as part of the project. According to a newspaper report, Universal Music pressed her regarding new material in 2008. According to that same report Winehouse as of 2 September had not been near a recording studio. It was noted that she had touring obligations during the summer and also that if an album was quickly recorded, it would be at least a year before an album could be released. In late October, Winehouse’s spokesman was quoted as saying that Winehouse had not been given a deadline to complete her third album, for which she was learning to play drums.
During her 2009 stay in Saint Lucia, Winehouse worked on new music with producer Salaam Remi. Island claimed that a new album would be due in 2010; Island co-president Darcus Beese said, “I’ve heard a couple of song demos that have absolutely floored me”. In July 2010 Winehouse was quoted as saying her next album would be released no later than January 2011, saying “It’s going to be very much the same as my second album, where there’s a lot of jukebox stuff and songs that are… just jukebox, really.” Mark Ronson said in July 2010 that he had not started to record the album.
Music and voice
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Influence on the music industry
British singer Adele had credited Winehouse’s success in the United States for making her and fellow British singer Duffy’s journey to the United States “a bit smoother”. American singer Lady Gagacredited Winehouse with paving the way for her rise to the top of the charts. She appeared to be using a metaphorical analogy to explain that Winehouse made it easier for unconventional women to have mainstream pop success. The “Winehouse phenomenon” has been credited by Sebastian Danchin, author of Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Soul, of kick-starting a revival of soul music that has been ongoing since 2000. Danchin quoting Raphael Saadiq, Anthony Hamilton, and John Legend said “Amy Winehouse was produced by people who wanted to create a marketing coup. The positive side is that it reacquainted an audience with this music and played an introductory role for others. This reinvigorated the genre by overcoming the vintage aspect”.
The release of Back to Black and the emergence of Lily Allen has been credited by The Sunday Times as directly creating the market for the media proclaimed “the year of the women” in 2009 which has seen five female artists nominated for the Mercury Prize. After the album was released record companies sought out female artists with a similar sound and fearless and experimental female musicians in general. Adele and Duffy were the second wave of artists with a sound similar to Winehouse’s. A third wave of female musicians that has emerged since the album was released are led byVV Brown, Florence and the Machine, La Roux and Little Boots. In February 2010, rapper Jay-Z credited Winehouse with revitalising British music, saying, “There’s a strong push coming out of London right now, which is great. It’s been coming ever since I guess Amy (Winehouse). I mean always, but I think Amy, this resurgence was ushered in by Amy.” In March 2011 the New York Daily News ran an article attributing the continuing wave of British female artists that have been successful in the United States to Winehouse and her absence. Spin magazine music editor Charles Aaron was quoted as saying “Amy Winehouse was the Nirvana moment for all these women,” “They can all be traced back to her in terms of attitude, musical styles or fashion”. According to Keith Caulfield chart manager for Billboard “Because of Amy, or the lack thereof, the marketplace was able to get singers like Adele and Duffy,” “Now those ladies have brought on the new ones, like Eliza Doolittle,Rumer and Ellie.”
Winehouse toured in conjunction with the Back to Black album’s release. She performed headlining gigs in September and November 2006, including one of the Little Noise Sessions charity concerts at the Union Chapel, Islington. On 31 December 2006, Winehouse appeared on Jools Holland‘s Annual Hootenannyand performed a cover of Marvin Gaye‘s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” along with Paul Weller and Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. She also performed Toots & the Maytals‘ “Monkey Man”. She began a run of another 14 gigs beginning in February 2007. At his request, Bruce Willis introduced Winehouse before her performance of “Rehab” at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. Winehouse made awards organizers nervous when she went on a Las Vegasjaunt in the hours before the show. During the summer of 2007, Winehouse performed at various festivals, including UK’s Glastonbury Festival,Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival, Rock Werchter and Baltimore‘s Virgin Music Festival.
Winehouse’s tour, however, did not go as well. In November 2007, the opening night of a 17-date tour was marred by booing and walkouts at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. A music critic for the Birmingham Mail said it was “one of the saddest nights of my life…I saw a supremely talented artist reduced to tears, stumbling around the stage and, unforgivably, swearing at the audience.” Other concerts ended similarly, with, for example, fans at herHammersmith Apollo performance saying that she “looked highly intoxicated throughout”, until she announced on 27 November 2007, that her performances and public appearances were cancelled for the remainder of 2007, citing doctor advice to take a complete rest. A statement issued by concert promoter Live Nation blamed “the rigours involved in touring and the intense emotional strain that Amy has been under in recent weeks” for the decision.
On 20 February 2008, Winehouse performed at the 2008 BRIT Awards, performing “Valerie” with Mark Ronson, followed by “Love Is a Losing Game”. She urged the crowd to “make some noise for my Blake.” In Paris, she performed what was described as a “well-executed 40 minute” set at the opening of a Fendi boutique. Although her father, manager and various members of her touring team reportedly tried to dissuade her, Winehouse performed at the Rock in Rio Lisboa festival in Portugal in May 2008. Although the set was plagued by a late arrival and problems with her voice, the crowd warmed to her. In addition to her own material she performed two Specials covers. Winehouse performed at Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday Party concert at London’s Hyde Park on the 27 June, and the next day at the Glastonbury Festival. On 12 July at the Oxegen Festival she performed a well-received 50 minute set which was followed the next day by a 14 song set at T in the Park. On 16 August she played at the Staffordshire leg of the V Festival, and the following day played the Chelmsford leg of the festival. Organizers said that Winehouse attracted the biggest crowds of the festival. Audience reaction was reported as mixed. On 6 September she was the headliner at ‘Bestival‘. She performed what was described as a polished set which ended with her storming off the stage. Her hour late arrival caused her set to be cut off at the halfway point due to a curfew.
In May 2009, Winehouse returned to performing at a jazz festival in Saint Lucia amid torrential downpours and technical difficulties. During her hour long set it was reported she was unsteady on her feet and had trouble remembering lyrics. She apologised to the crowd for being “bored” and ended her set by walking off the stage in the middle of a song. To a cheering crowd on 23 August at the V festival, Winehouse sang with The Specials on their songs “You’re Wondering Now” and “Ghost Town“.
In July 2010, she performed “Valerie” with Mark Ronson at a movie premiere. She sang lead but forgot some of the song’s lyrics. In October Winehouse performed a four song set to promote her fashion line. In December 2010 Winehouse played a 40 minute concert at a Russian oligarch‘s party in Moscow. Guests included other Russian tycoons and Russian show business stars. The tycoon hand picked the songs she played.
During January 2011, she played five dates in Brazil, with opening acts of Janelle Monáe and Mayer Hawthorne. On 11 February 2011, Winehouse cut short a performance in Dubai following booing from the audience. Winehouse was reported to be tired, distracted and “tipsy” during the performance.
On 18 June 2011, Winehouse started her 12-leg 2011 European tour in Belgrade. Local media described her performance as a scandal and disaster, and she was booed off the stage due to her apparently being too drunk to perform. It was reported that she was unable to remember the city she was in, the lyrics of her songs or – when trying to introduce them – the names of the members of her band. The local press also claimed that Winehouse was forced to perform by her bodyguards, who didn’t allow her to leave the stage when she tried to do so. She then pulled out of performances in Istanbul and Athens which had been scheduled for the following week. On 21 June it was announced that she had cancelled all shows of her European tour and would be given “as long as it takes” to sort herself out.
Winehouse’s last public appearance took place at Camden’s Roundhouse, London on 20 July 2011, when she made a surprise guest appearance on stage to support her goddaughter, Dionne Bromfield, who was singing “Mama Said” with The Wanted.
On 10 July 2008, Winehouse launched her own club night, Snakehips at the Monarch, in the Camden Monarch venue in London. Although billed as a DJ battle between her and another DJ, she stayed behind the decks swaying as another person actually played 1960s music. She appeared at another Snakehips event at the Monarch on the night of 11 September. After reportedly arriving two hours late she spun music and played a short acoustic set.
Winehouse joined a campaign to stop a block of flats being built beside the George Tavern, a famous London East End music venue. Campaign supporters feared the residential development would end the spot’s lucrative sideline as a film and photo location, on which it relies to survive. As part of a breast cancer awareness campaign, Winehouse appeared in a revealing photograph for the April 2008 issue of Easy Living magazine. Winehouse had an estimated £10m fortune, tying her for tenth place in the 2008 Sunday Times listing of the wealth of musicians under age 30. The following year her fortune had dropped to an estimated £5m. Her finances are run by Mitch and Janis Winehouse. It was reported she earned about £1m singing at two private parties duringParis Fashion Week. as well as another £1m to perform at a Moscow Art Gallery for Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Winehouse loaned a vintage dress used in her video for “Tears Dry on Their Own” as well as a DVD to the British Music Experience, a new museum dedicated to the history of British pop music. The museum, located in The O2, opened on 9 March 2009.
In January 2009 Winehouse announced that she was launching her own record label. The first act on her Lioness Records is Winehouse’s 13-year-old goddaughter, Dionne Bromfield. Her first album, featuring covers of classic soul records, was released on 12 October 2009. Winehouse is the backing singer on several tracks on the album and she performed backing vocals for Bromfield on the television programme Strictly Come Dancing on 10 October.
Saving Amy was released as a paperback book in January 2010.
Winehouse has collaborated on a 17 piece fashion collection with the Fred Perry label. It was released for sale in October 2010. According to Fred Perry’s marketing director “We had three major design meetings where she was closely involved in product style selection and the application of fabric, colour and styling details,” and gave “crucial input on proportion, colour and fit”. The collection consists of “vintage-inspired looks including Capri pants, a bowling dress, a trench coat, pencil skirts, a longline argyle sweater and a pink-and-black checkerboard-printed collared shirt”.
With the paparazzi taking photographs of her wherever they could, Winehouse obtained an injunction against a leading paparazzi agency under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the resultant court order banning them from following her. Photographers were also banned from following her within 100 metres of her home and photographing Winehouse in her home or the home of her friends and family. According to a newspaper report, sources close to the singer said legal action was taken out of concern for the safety of Winehouse and those close to her.
She married on-off boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil (born August 1978), a former video production assistant, on 18 May 2007, in Miami, Florida. Fielder-Civil was a “dropout” of Bourne Grammar School, who moved to London at aged 16 from his native Lincolnshire. In a June 2007 interview, Winehouse admitted she was sometimes violent towards him when she had been drinking, stating “if he says one thing I don’t like then I’ll chin him”. In August 2007, they were photographed, bloodied and bruised, in the streets of London after an alleged fight, although she contended her injuries were self-inflicted. Equality campaigner Glenn Sacks criticised Winehouse for “bragging” about abusing her husband, noting how a male abuser would have been “locked up, stigmatised, and vilified”.
Winehouse’s parents and in-laws publicly reported their numerous concerns, citing fears that the two might commit suicide, with Fielder-Civil’s father encouraging fans to boycott her music. Fielder-Civil was quoted in a British tabloid as saying he introduced her to crack cocaine and heroin. During a visit with Mitch Winehouse at the prison in July 2008, Fielder-Civil reportedly said that they would cut themselves to ease the pain of withdrawal.
From 21 July 2008 to 25 February 2009, Fielder-Civil was imprisoned following his guilty plea on charges of trying to pervert the course of justice as well as a charge of grievous bodily harm with intent. The incident, in July 2007, involved an assault on a pub landlord that resulted in a broken cheek. According to the prosecution the landlord accepted £200,000 as part of a deal to “effectively throw the [court] case and not turn up”. The prosecution testified that the money used to pay off the landlord belonged to Winehouse, but that Winehouse pulled out of a meeting with the men involved in the plot, because she had to attend an awards ceremony.
Winehouse was spotted with aspiring actor Josh Bowman on holiday in Saint Lucia in early January 2009, saying she was “in love again, and I don’t need drugs.” She commented that the “whole marriage was based on doing drugs” and that “for the time being I’ve just forgotten I’m even married.” On 12 January, Winehouse’s spokesman confirmed that “papers have been received” for what Fielder-Civil’s solicitor has said are divorce proceedings based on a claim of adultery. On 25 February, Blake Fielder-Civil was quoted as saying that he planned to continue divorce proceedings to give himself a drug-free fresh start. In March, Winehouse was quoted in a magazine as saying, “I still love Blake and I want him to move into my new house with me – that was my plan all along … I won’t let him divorce me. He’s the male version of me and we’re perfect for each other.” Uncontested, the divorce was granted on 16 July 2009 and became final on 28 August 2009.Upon his request Fielder-Civil received no money in the settlement. She is believed to have been dating director Reg Traviss shortly before her death.
Substance abuse and mental health issues
Winehouse’s battles with substance abuse were the subject of much media attention. In various interviews, she admitted to having problems with self-harm, depression and eating disorders. In 2005, she went through a period of drinking, heavy drug use, violent mood swings and weight loss. People who saw her during the end of that year and early 2006 reported a rebound that coincided with the writing of Back to Black. Her family believes that the mid-2006 death of her grandmother, who was a stabilising influence, set her off into addiction. In August 2007, Winehouse cancelled a number of shows in the UK and Europe, citing exhaustion and ill health. She was hospitalised during this period for what was reported as an overdose of heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine and alcohol.
Winehouse told a magazine that the drugs were to blame for her hospitalisation and that “I really thought that it was over for me then.” Soon after, Winehouse’s father commented that when he had made public statements regarding her problems, he was using the media because it seemed the only way to get through to her. In an interview with The Album Chart Show on British television, Winehouse said she was manic depressive and not alcoholic, adding that that sounded like “an alcoholic in denial”.
On 2 December 2007, images of the singer outside her home in the early morning hours, barefoot and wearing only a bra and jeans, appeared on the internet and in tabloid newspapers. In a statement, her spokesman blamed paparazzi harassment for the incident. The spokesman reported that the singer was in a physician-supervised programme and was channelling her difficulties by writing a lot of music. The British tabloid The Sun posted a video of a woman, alleged to be Winehouse, apparently smoking crack cocaine and speaking of having taken ecstasy and valium. Winehouse’s father moved in with her, and Island Records, her record label, announced the abandonment of plans for an American promotion campaign on her behalf. In late January 2008, Winehouse reportedly entered a rehabilitation facility for a two-week treatment program.
On 23 January 2008, the video was passed on to the Metropolitan Police, who questioned her on 5 February. No charges were brought. On 26 March 2008, Winehouse’s spokesman said she was “doing well” and denied a published report in a British tabloid that consideration was being given to having her return to rehab. Her record company reportedly believed that her recovery remained fragile. By late April 2008, her erratic behaviour, including an allegation of assault, caused fear that her drug rehabilitation efforts have been unsuccessful, leading to efforts by Winehouse’s father and manager to seek assistance in having her sectioned. Her dishevelled appearance during and after a scheduled club night in September sparked new rumours of a relapse. Photographers were quoted as saying she appeared to have cuts on her legs and arms.
In an interview released in June 2009 Winehouse’s father said the singer was in a drug replacement programme. He said she was gradually recovering but that heavy drinking was causing “slight backward steps”. A documentary shot early in 2009 shows Winehouse apparently intoxicated according to a newspaper report. Pictures published by a magazine in July 2009 upon her return to the United Kingdom from her extended stay in Saint Lucia appeared to show that Winehouse had gained weight and that her complexion was improved. In an October 2010 interview Winehouse said she had been drug-free for three years, saying “I literally woke up one day and was like, ‘I don’t want to do this any more.’”
Violence and legal difficulties
in 2006 Winehouse admitted punching a fan in the face for criticising taking Blake Fielder-Civil as a husband. She then attacked her spouse as he attempted to calm her down, kneeing him in the crotch.
In October 2007, Winehouse and her then-husband were arrested in Bergen, Norway for possession of seven grams of marijuana. The couple were later released and fined 3850 kroner (around £350). Winehouse first appealed the fines, claiming she was “duped” into confessing, but later dropped the appeal.
On 26 April 2008, Winehouse was cautioned after she admitted to police she slapped a 38 year old man in the face, a “common assault” offence. She voluntarily turned herself in and was held overnight. Police said, at her arrival she was “in no fit state” to be interviewed. Winehouse was arrested on 7 May 2008 on suspicion of possessing drugs after a video of her apparently smoking crack cocaine was passed to the police in January, but was released on bail a few hours later because they could not confirm, from the video, what she was smoking. The Crown Prosecution Service considered charging her with possessing a controlled drug and allowing her premises to be used for the supply by others of a controlled drug, but she was cleared when the service could not establish that the substance in the video was a controlled drug. In reaction to the decision, former police commander John O’Connor said it is an “absolute scandal that nothing could be done” about Winehouse “cocking a snook at the law”. Some members of Parliament also reacted negatively. Two London residents were subsequently charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and ecstasy to Winehouse. One of the pair was sentenced to two years in prison on 13 December 2008, while the other received a two-year community order.
On 5 March 2009, Winehouse was arrested and charged with common assault following a claim by a woman that Winehouse hit her in the eye at a September 2008 Prince’s Trust charity ball. At the same time, she was reported to have spat at the English socialite Pippa Middleton and to have headbutted a photographer. Winehouse’s spokesperson announced the singer cancelled a scheduled United States Coachella Festival appearance in “light of current legal issues”. Swearing in under her legal name of Amy Jade Civil, Winehouse appeared in court on 17 March to enter her plea of not guilty. On 23 July her assault trial began with prosecutor Lyall Thompson charging that Winehouse acted with “deliberate and unjustifiable violence” while appearing to be under the influence of alcohol or another substance. The woman, Sharene Flash, testified that Winehouse “punched me forcefully in my right eye. She used a fist, her right one.” Winehouse testified that she did not punch Flash, but tried to push Flash away from her because she was scared of Flash. Winehouse cited her worry that Flash would sell her story to a tabloid, Flash’s height advantage, and Flash’s “rude” behaviour as reasons for her fear of Flash. On the 24 July, District Judge Timothy Workman ruled that Winehouse was not guilty of the charge. Workman cited the facts that all but two of the witnesses were intoxicated at the time of the incident and that medical evidence did not show “the sort of injury that often occurs when there is a forceful punch to the eye”.
On 19 December 2009, Winehouse was arrested again on charges of common assault, plus another charge of public order offence. Winehouse assaulted the front-of-house manager of the Milton Keynes Theatre after he asked her to move from her seat. On 20 January 2010, she admitted common assault and disorderly behaviour. She was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 court costs and £100 compensation to the man she attacked.
On 23 June 2008, Winehouse’s publicist corrected earlier misstatements by Mitch Winehouse that his daughter had early stage emphysema, instead claiming she had signs of what could lead to early-stage emphysema. Mitch Winehouse had also stated that his daughter’s lungs were operating at 70 percent capacity and that she had an irregular heartbeat. Mitch Winehouse said that these problems had been caused by her chain smoking and crack cocaine use. The singer’s father also reported that doctors had warned Winehouse that, if she continued smoking crack cocaine, she would have to wear an oxygen mask and would eventually die. In a radio interview, Mitch Winehouse said the singer was responding “fabulously” to treatment, which included being covered with nicotine patches. British Lung Foundation spokesman Keith Prowse noted this type of condition could be managed with treatment. Prowse also said the condition was not normal for a person her age but “heavy smoking and inhaling other substances like drugs can age the lungs prematurely”. Norman H. Edelman of the American Lung Association explained that if she stopped smoking, her lung functions would decline at the rate of a normal person, but continued smoking would lead to a more rapid decline in lung function. Photographs of the singer with a cigarette in her mouth, taken 23 June 2008, were widely published.
Winehouse was released from The London Clinic 24 hours after returning from a temporary leave to perform at Nelson Mandela‘s 90th birthday and at a concert in Glastonbury, and continued receiving treatment as an outpatient. In July, 2008 Winehouse stated that she had been diagnosed with “some areas of emphysema” and said she is getting herself together by “eating loads of healthy food, sleeping loads, playing my guitar, making music and writing letters to my husband every day”. She also kept a vertical tanning bed in her apartment. Winehouse began precautionary testing on her lungs and chest on 25 October 2008 at the London Clinic for what was reported as a chest infection. Winehouse was in and out of the facility and was granted permission to set her own schedule regarding home leave. She returned to the hospital on 23 November 2008 for a reported reaction to her medication.
At 3:54 pm BST (15:54 UTC+1) on 23 July 2011, two ambulances were called to Winehouse’s home in Camden, London. Winehouse had been found by a member of her security team and was pronounced dead at the scene. Shortly afterwards, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that she had died. A post mortem with inconclusive results was completed on 25 July, and no cause of death could be established. An inquest was adjourned to 26 October, and results of further toxicology tests will take two to four weeks. A private funeral was planned for Tuesday for friends and family. After her death was announced, media and camera crews appeared as crowds gathered near Winehouse’s residence to pay their respects. Forensic investigators entered the flat as police cordoned off the street outside.
Winehouse’s dichotomous public image of critical and commercial success versus personal turmoil proved to be controversial. The New Statesman magazine called Winehouse “a filthy-mouthed, down-to-earth diva,” while Newsweek magazine called her “a perfect storm of sex kitten, raw talent and poor impulse control.” Karen Heller with The Philadelphia Inquirer summarised the maelstrom this way:
She’s only 24 with six Grammy nods, crashing headfirst into success and despair, with a codependent husband in jail, exhibitionist parents with questionable judgement, and the paparazzi documenting her emotional and physical distress. Meanwhile, a haute designer Karl Lagerfeld appropriates her dishevelled style and eating issues to market to the elite while proclaiming her the new Bardot.
By 2008, her continued drug problems threatened her career. Even as Nick Gatfield, the president of Island Records, toyed with the idea of releasing Winehouse “to deal with her problems”, he remarked on her talent, saying, “It’s a reflection of her status [in the U.S.] that when you flick through the TV coverage [of the Grammys] it’s her image they use.” Post-Grammys, some questioned whether Winehouse should have been honoured with the awards given her recent personal and drug problems, including Natalie Cole, who introduced Winehouse at the ceremony. Cole (who battled her own substance-abuse problems while winning a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1975) remarked, “I think the girl is talented, gifted, but it’s not right for her to be able to have her cake and eat it too. She needs to get herself together.” In an opinion newspaper commentary, Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that the alleged drug habits of Winehouse and other celebrities send a bad message “to others who are vulnerable to addiction” and undermine the efforts of other celebrities trying to raise awareness of problems in Africa, now that more cocaine used in Europe passes through Africa. Winehouse’s spokesperson called Costa a “ludicrous man” and noted that “Amy has never given a quote about drugs or flaunted it in any way. She’s had some problems and is trying to get better. The U.N. should get its own house in order.” Graeme Pearson, the former head of Scotland’s drug enforcement agency, criticised Winehouse and Kate Moss for making going to rehab a badge of honour, thus giving the false impression that quitting drugs is easy, because many cannot afford to go to clinics.
Winehouse became a staple in popularity polls. The 2008 NME Awards nominated Winehouse in the categories of “Villain of the Year”, “Best Solo Artist”, and “Best Music DVD”; Winehouse won for “Worst Dressed Performer”. In its third annual list, Glamour magazine named Winehouse the third worst dressed British Woman. Winehouse was ranked number two on Richard Blackwell’s 48th annual “Ten Worst Dressed Women” list, behind Victoria Beckham. In an April 2008 poll conducted by Sky News, Winehouse was named the second greatest “ultimate heroine” by the UK population at large, topping the voting for that category of those polled under 25 years old. Psychologist Donna Dawson commented that the results demonstrate women like Winehouse who have “a certain sense of vulnerability or have had to fight against some adversity in their lives” receive recognition. Winehouse was voted the second most hated personality in the United Kingdom in a poll conducted one month later by Marketing magazine.
June 2008 brought a report that Winehouse, singing a disparaging chant about blacks, the disabled, and homosexuals, and containing racial epithets about Pakistanis and Indians, was taped by her former husband Fielder-Civil, despite assurances to her that he was not filming. Winehouse denied allegations that she was a racist, saying “I don’t want to play anything down, but I’m the leastracist person going.” Winehouse added that the film was taken during “really, really happy times.” Speaking at a discussion entitled Winehouse or White House?: Do we go too big on showbiz news? Jeff Zycinski, head of BBC Radio Scotland, said the BBC and media in general were complicit in the destruction of celebrities like Winehouse. He said that public interest in the singer’s lifestyle does not make her lifestyle newsworthy. Rod McKenzie editor of the BBC Radio One program Newsbeat replied that “If you play [Amy Winehouse’s] music to a certain demographic, those same people want to know what’s happening in her private life. If you don’t cover it, you’re insulting young license fee payers.” British singer and songwriter Lily Allen was quoted in a Scottish newspaper as saying
I know Amy Winehouse very well. And she is very different to what people portray her as being. Yes, she does get out of her mind on drugs sometimes, but she is also a very clever, intelligent, witty, funny person who can hold it together. You just don’t see that side.
London’s Mall Galleries opened an exhibition in May 2008 that included a sculpture of Winehouse, entitled Excess. The piece, created by Guy Portelli, had a miniature of the singer lying on top of acracked champagne bottle, with a pool of spilled liquid underneath. The body was covered with what appeared to be tiny pills, while one outstretched hand held a glass. Another piece, a print entitled “Celebrity 1” by artist Charlotte Suckling, was exhibited in the same exhibition. A wax sculpture of Winehouse went on display at the London Madame Tussauds on 23 July 2008. The singer did not attend the unveiling, although her parents did. A sculpture by Marco Perego, entitled “The Only Good Rock Star Is a Dead Rock Star”, that depicts Winehouse lying in a pool of blood with an apple and a bullet hole in her head after being shot by American novelist and beat poet William S. Burroughs (in a recreation of the accidental killing of his wife Joan Vollmer), was scheduled to go on display in New York’s Half Gallery on 14 November 2008. The sale price for the sculpture is listed at US $100,000. Perego said of the sculpture “Rock stars are the sacrificial animals of society.” Winehouse’s spokesperson said “It’s a funny kind of tribute. The artist seems in thrall to a tabloid persona that is not the real Amy. People often use her image to sell their work.”
Awards and nominations
Among the awards and recognitions for Frank, Winehouse earned an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song (“Stronger Than Me“), a BRIT Award nomination for Best Female Solo Artist, and an inclusion in Robert Dimery’s 2006 book, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Back to Black produced numerous nominations, including two from the BRIT Awards (Best Female Solo Artist and Best British Album), six from the Grammy Awards (including five wins), four from the Ivor Novello Awards, four from the MTV Europe Music Awards, three from the MTV Video Music Awards, three from the World Music Awards, and one each from the Mercury Prize (Album of the Year) and MOBO Awards (Best UK Female). During her career, Winehouse received 23 awards from 58 nominations.