Amy Winehouse, one of the most successful British artists of her generation, was found dead in her North London Apartment on July 23, 2011. The English crooner, who achieved international prominence with her flamboyant take on retro soul, lost her longstanding battle with drugs and alcohol. Like Kurt Cobain and others, she was also just 27.
Born and raised in a well-to-do area of North London, Amy grew up listening to jazz albums of her father. At the tender age of eight, she started training at Susi Earnshaw Theatre School and by the time she turned ten, she had already formed a rap group with her best friend. Winehouse, then, attended the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School and later went to the Brit School, a performing arts academy.
The husky voiced singer, who had been penning songs since her teens, cut her first album ‘Frank’ in 2003 at age 19. The album was a critical and commercial success and established her as an upcoming star in Britain. Her eclectic musical style was dubbed as a ‘glossy mix of urbane funk and jazz-inflected soul’. It also gave her first win; an Ivor Novello songwriting award for Best Contemporary Song on her first single, ‘Stronger Than Me’.
Soon after in the fall of 2006, a tumultuous relationship with Blake Civil-Fielder, whom she eventually married and then divorced, inspired the most phenomenal album of her career, ‘Back to Black’, which churned out hits like ‘Rehab’ and ‘Back to Black’. The album went platinum and propelled her international career. It led to five Grammys for Winehouse in 2008, including song and record of the year for ‘Rehab’, in turn making her one of the most recognizable stars in the world. The soul singer’s unique look rounded up with black beehive hair, girly tattoos, sharp tongue and thickly lined eyes also influenced her meteoric rise.
Besides an exceptional career, Amy was also a dedicated supporter of various charities like Red Cross, Save the Children, UNICEF and many others. The dauntless artist even posed naked in an issue of Easy Living Magazine to raise breast cancer awareness. She was held in high regard among the charity communities who conceived Amy to be a very generous person. This was definitely a side of hers that the public knew very little about.
However, as her popularity rose, Amy’s health started deteriorating due to substance abuse. This led to eating disorders, disastrous relationships and frequent public meltdowns. The infamous rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that took the lives of legends like Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley and Janis Joplin, finally devoured Amy’s body, soul and most importantly her talent.
Even though Winehouse showed a natural deftness for self-destruction, she will always be remembered as an artist who was bold enough to break new grounds. Fellow singer, Lady GaGa credited her for opening doors for artists who dared to be different and being different defined Amy Winehouse.
“He’s tried to make me go to rehab, I won’t go, go, go”. Maybe, you should have, Amy!