AMY WINEHOUSE PASSES AWAY AT 27
FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Everyone that knows me is well aware of how much I adore AMY WINEHOUSE. Her passing may not have come as an enormous shock. But it’s an incredible tragedy just the same.
She was gorgeous and exceptionally gifted. AMY reminded me a lot of BARBRA STREISAND. Her star quality and charisma were white hot. She was an authentic original.
She had the world at her feet. But the last note has now been sung.
It’s very hard to pick a song that sums up such an exquisitely talented woman. REHAB and BACK TO BLACK are revolutionary but rather inappropriate for various reasons.
If you know her music, I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean.
Instead I’m going with YOU KNOW I’M NO GOOD. Just so no one jumps to the wrong conclusions (again…), the video and the song have nothing to do with anything that I’m going through. I’m with the most beautiful man in the world. He loves me and supports me unconditionally through everything…and I feel exactly the same way about him.
We will never be parted. This year has bonded us together forever.
But the song has a fabulous kind of stand back – fuck you, you don’t know who you’re messing with vibe.
Somehow – wherever she is – I firmly believe that AMY would heartily approve.
In her lifetime, AMY WINEHOUSE often made headlines due to her tempestuous and dramatic personal life. But it’s her small but powerful body of recorded music that will be her legacy.
The singer was found dead Saturday at age 27 by ambulance crews called to her home in north London’s Camden area, a youth culture mecca known for its music scene and its pubs. She joins the ranks of rock stars JIMI HENDRIX, JANIS JOPLIN, KURT COBAIN and JIM MORRISON, who all died at the same age.
It was not a complete surprise, but the news was still a huge shock for millions around the world. The size of AMY WINEHOUSE’S appeal was reflected in the extraordinary range of people paying tribute as they heard the news.
TONY BENNETT, who recorded the pop standard BODY & SOUL with AMY at London’s ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS in March for an upcoming duets album, called her “an artist of immense proportions.”
“She was an extraordinary musician with a rare intuition as a vocalist and I am truly devastated that her exceptional talent has come to such an early end.”
ROLLING STONE RON WOOD dedicated Saturday’s reunion performance of his band THE FACES to AMY. “It’s a very sad loss of a very good friend I spent many great times with.”
THE DAP KINGS, a band that worked on her second album, spoke of AMY fondly: “She was one of a kind and we were fortunate to have had the chance to make music with her. She was always gracious and a pleasure to work with in the studio and on the road. She brought a lot of people joy with her voice and her irreverent personality. It is a tragedy that she was taken from us so soon when she had much more music to give.”
BRYAN ADAMS remembered her: “She was an enormously talented and sensitive woman. I will miss her greatly.”
AMY WINEHOUSE was something rare in an increasingly homogenized music business: an outsized personality and an unclassifiable talent.
She shot to fame with the album BACK TO BLACK, whose blend of jazz, soul, rock and classic pop was a global hit. It won five GRAMMYS in 2008 (including RECORD OF THE YEAR, SONG OF THE YEAR, POP VOCAL ALBUM and BEST NEW ARTIST) and made the singer one of music’s most recognizable stars.
“I didn’t go out looking to be famous,” she told THE ASSOCIATED PRESS when the CD was released. “I’m just a musician.”
But in the end, the music was overshadowed by fame and the accompanying difficulties that automatically appear with such an intense level of exposure. Fans who had kept the faith waited in vain for a followup to BACK TO BLACK.
AMY JADE WINEHOUSE was born SEPTEMBER 14, 1983 to taxi driver MITCH WINEHOUSE and his pharmacist wife JANIS WINEHOUSE.
AMY grew up in the north London suburbs and was set on a show business career from an early age. She attended THE SYLVIA YOUNG THEATRE SCHOOL, a factory for British music and acting moppets, later went to THE BRIT SCHOOL, a performing arts academy in the FAME mold and was originally signed to POP IDOL svengali SIMON FULLER’S 19 MANANGEMENT.
But AMY was never a packaged teen star and always resisted being pigeonholed.
Her jazz influenced 2003 debut album FRANK was critically praised and sold well in Britain. It earned AMY an IVOR NOVELLO songwriting award, two BRIT nominations and a spot on the shortlist for THE MERCURY MUSIC PRIZE.
But AMY expressed dissatisfaction with the disc, saying she was “only 80 percent behind” the album.
FRANK was followed by a slump during which she broke up with her boyfriend and suffered a long period of writer’s block.
“I had writer’s block for so long,” she said in 2007. “And as a writer, your self worth is literally based on the last thing you wrote…I used to think, ‘What happened to me?'”
“At one point it had been two years since the last record and (the record company) actually said to me, ‘Do you even want to make another record?’ I was like, ‘I swear it’s coming.’ I said to them, ‘Once I start writing I will write and write and write. But I just have to start it.”’
The album she eventually produced was a sensation.
Released in Britain in the fall of 2006, BACK TO BLACK brought AMY WINEHOUSE global fame. Working with producers MARK RONSON and SALAAM REMI and funk group THE DAP KINGS, AMY fused soul, jazz, doo wop and, above all, a love of the girl groups of the early 1960s with lyrical tales of romantic obsession and emotional excess.
BACK TO BLACK was released in the United States in March 2007 and went on to win five GRAMMY awards, including SONG OF THE YEAR and RECORD OF THE YEAR for REHAB.
Music critic JOHN AIZLEWOOD attributed her trans Atlantic success to a fantastic voice and a genuinely original sound.
“A lot of British bands fail in America because they give America something Americans do better — that’s why most British hip hop has failed. But they won’t have come across anything quite like Amy Winehouse.”
AMY’S rise was helped by her distinctive look — a black beehive of hair, thickly lined cat eyes, girly tattoos — and her tart tongue.
The songs on BACK TO BLACK detailed breakups and breakdowns with a similar frankness. Lyrically, as in life, she wore her heart on her sleeve.
“I listen to a lot of 60s music, but society is different now,” she said in 2007. “I’m a young woman and I’m going to write about what I know.”
Increasingly, her private life began to overshadow her career.
She acknowledged struggling with eating disorders and told a newspaper that she had been diagnosed as manic depressive but refused to take medication.
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.
Occasional bits of recording saw the light of day. Her rendition of THE ZUTONS’ VALERIE was a highlight of producer MARK RONSON’S 2007 album VERSION and she recorded the pop classic IT’S MY PARTY for the 2010 QUINCY JONES album Q: SOUL BOSSA NOSTRA.
But other recording projects with the producer, one of the architects of the success of BACK TO BLACK, came to nothing.
In May 2007 in Miami, she married BLAKE FIELDER CIVIL, but the honeymoon was brief. That November, he was arrested for an attack on a pub manager the year before. He later pleaded guilty to assaulting barkeep JAMES KING and then offering him 200,000 pounds to keep quiet about it.
AMY stood by BLAKE throughout his trial, often blowing kisses at him from the court’s public gallery. But British newspapers reported extramarital affairs while he was behind bars.
They divorced in 2009.
AMY’S health often appeared fragile. In June 2008 and again in April 2010, she was taken to hospital and treated for injuries after fainting and falling at home.
Her father said she had developed the lung disease emphysema from smoking cigarettes and crack, although her spokesperson later said AMY only had “early signs of what could lead to emphysema.”
She left the hospital to perform at NELSON MANDELA’S 90th birthday concert in Hyde Park in June 2008 and at THE GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL the next day, where she received a rousing reception. Then it was back to a London clinic for treatment, continuing the cycle of music, excess and recuperation that marked her career.
Her last public appearance came three days before her death, when she briefly joined her goddaughter singer DIONNE BROMFIELD, on stage at THE ROUNDHOUSE in Camden, just around the corner from her home.
AMY is survived by her parents and an older brother ALEX. Her father MITCH, who released a jazz album of his own, was in New York when he heard the news of her death and immediately flew back.
Despite the years of frustration and disappointment, AMY retained a huge number of fans, all hoping she would find her feet again. Some gathered outside her home after her death, laying flowers, comforting each other and taking in the police tape and ambulance that marked the end of her journey.