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14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011

8 January 2013, a second coroner issued a statement confirming Amy Winehouse died of ‘accidental alcohol poisoning.’ The coroner’s office also stipulated that the coroner who carried out the first post-mortem did not have the ‘appropriate qualifications.’

Amy Winehouse was found dead at her home in North London by emergency services this afternoon. She was just 27 years of age. The police initially described her death as ‘unexplained’.

After an inconclusive post-mortem shortly after her death, on 26 October 2011 an inquest recorded a verdict of misadventure. A coroner confirmed that Amy Winehouse died from alcohol poisoning after a drinking binge following a period of abstinence.

After hearing of Amy Winehouse’s death I felt duty bound ‘or guilt trip bound’ to re-review my joint critique of her performance at the St. Lucia Jazz festival on 8 May 2009. Thankfully, I feel the facts were reported without spin. It was also a reminder of how ill she actually was.

I met Mitch Winehouse (her father) in 2010 at one of his gigs in London and took to him straight away as he expressed a genuine down to earth caring nature. As a father myself, I can empathise with how heartbreaking it must have been to witness your own child self-destruct and how utterly frustrating it would be because you are unable to stop it.

I have to admit to initially having more empathy for Mitch Winehouse and his family than for Amy Winehouse herself. I saw her actions and behaviour as being childish and selfish, especially as it seems she was offered more assistance and care than most in her condition. Like many, I thought she would eventually ‘sort herself out’ and make a dramatic comeback. I was wrong. However, I feel I was not wrong regarding my basic description of Amy Winehouse, she was childish…After all, she was a child!

Click here to read her review at the St. Lucia Jazz Festival…

Biography

Born Amy Jade Winehouse, in the suburb of Southgate, North London. Her father, Mitch Winehouse, worked as a cab driver, while mother Janis was employed as a pharmacist. Winehouse’s upbringing was surrounded by jazz; many of her uncles on her mother’s side were professional jazz musicians, and her grandmother was once romantically involved with British jazz legend Ronnie Scott. Because of this musical background, Winehouse grew up listening to a diverse range of music, from James Taylor to Sarah Vaughan. At the age of 10, she became drawn to the rebellious spirit of TLC, Salt-N-Pepa, and other American R&B and hip-hop acts, and founded a short-lived amateur rap group called Sweet ‘n’ Sour.

At 12, Winehouse was accepted into the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School, and a year later she received her first guitar. But by the age of 16, Winehouse was expelled for “not applying herself” and piercing her nose. That same year, she caught her first big break when a schoolmate and close friend, pop singer Tyler James, passed her demo tape to his label, A&R, who was searching for a jazz vocalist. The opportunity led her to a record deal with Island/Universal.

Her debut album, “Frank” (2003), was a critically acclaimed mixture of jazz, pop, soul, and hip-hop. The album was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize as well as two BRIT awards for Best Female Solo Artist and Best Urban Act. The debut single on the album, “Stronger Than Me,” earned the new artist an Ivor Novello award. “Frank” also hit double platinum status.

During this time, Winehouse began developing a reputation as an unstable party girl, often showing up to her club or TV performances too drunk to sing a whole set. She also started a tumultuous, on-again-off-again relationship with music video assistant, Blake Fielder-Civil, who admitted to introducing Winehouse to hard drugs. In public, the couples’ arguments often devolved into fist-fights and dramatic scenes. In private, their romance centred around drugs, alcohol, physical abuse, and even self-harm.

By 2006, her management company finally suggested that Winehouse enter rehab for alcohol abuse. Instead, she dumped the company and turned the experience into the lead single for her second, critically acclaimed album, “Back to Black” (2006). The song “Rehab,” which discussed her refusal to receive treatment for substance abuse, became an instant Top 10 hit in the U.K. and earned the artist another Ivor Novello award for Best Contemporary Song. The album was also a critical success, winning the artist a BRIT award for Best Female Solo Artist and a BRIT nomination for Best British Album in 2007. Less than a month after her BRIT win, “Back to Black” made its American debut. It was an instant smash, hitting higher on the Billboard music charts than any other American debut by a British female recording artist in history. The album stayed in the Top 10 for several months, selling 1 million copies by the end of that summer.

Though Winehouse’s live performances were greatly anticipated by fans and critics alike and occasionally she displayed ‘flashes of genius, by 2010 her periodic displays of genius were overshadowed by the ‘wrong type’ of drama. Talk would be centred around the possibility of her ‘not turning up’ for gigs. If she did turn up, would she be stable enough to perform. If she did perform, what would the outcome be? Her last performance in Belgrade, Serbia ended after fans booed her off stage due to an incoherent performance.

Robin Francis
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.

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Recommended
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Back To Black Frank

 

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Click Amy Winehouse's image to read her review at the St. Lucia Jazz Festival 2009...

Amy Winehouse @ theSt. Lucia Jazz Festival 2009 (Click to go to her page)

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