Saturday, July 23, 2011
Amy Winehouse Remembered
In her short lifetime, Winehouse too often made headlines because of drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, destructive relationships and abortive performances. 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, its pubs — and the availability of illegal drugs.
The London Ambulance Service said Winehouse had died before crews arrived at the house in leafy Camden Square. The cause of death was not immediately known.
The singer's body was taken from her home by private ambulance to a London mortuary where post-mortem examinations were to be carried out either Sunday or Monday. Police said in a statement no arrests have been made in connection with her death.
It was not a complete surprise, but the news was still a huge shock for millions around the world. The size of Winehouse's appeal was reflected in the extraordinary range of people paying tribute as they heard the news, from Demi Moore — who tweeted "Truly sad news ... May her troubled soul find peace" — to chef Jamie Oliver, who wrote "such a waste, raw talent" on the social networking site.
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 and made Winehouse — with her black beehive hairdo and old-fashioned sailor tattoos — one of music's most recognizable stars.
"I didn't go out looking to be famous," Winehouse told the Associated Press when the album was released. "I'm just a musician." But in the end, the music was overshadowed by fame, and by Winehouse's demons. Tabloids lapped up the erratic stage appearances, drunken fights, stints in hospital and rehab clinics. Performances became shambling, stumbling train wrecks, watched around the world on the Internet.
Last month, Winehouse canceled her European comeback tour after she swayed and slurred her way through barely recognizable songs in her first show in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Booed and jeered off stage, she flew home and her management said she would take time off to recover.
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 Management. But Winehouse was never a packaged teen star, and always resisted being pigeonholed.
Winehouse's performances were sometimes shambolic, and she admitted she was "a terrible drunk." Increasingly, her personal 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. Soon accounts of her erratic behavior, canceled concerts and drink- and drug-fueled nights began to multiply.
Winehouse's managers went to increasingly desperate lengths to keep the wayward star on the straight and narrow. Before a June 2011 concert in Belgrade — the first stop on a planned European comeback tour — her hotel was stripped of booze. It did no good,
Winehouse swayed and slurred her way through barely recognizable songs, as her band played gamely and the audience jeered and booed. She flew home. Her management canceled the tour, saying Winehouse would take some time off to recover.
In May 2007 in Miami, she married music industry hanger-on Blake Fielder-Civil, but the honeymoon was brief. They divorced in 2009.
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.
Winehouse 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.
Winehouse's spokesman, Chris Goodman, said "everyone who was involved with Amy is shocked and devastated." He said the family would issue a statement when they were ready.
at 6:04 PM