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Amy Winehouse R.I.P

July 25, 2011

Amy Winehouse, the chanteuse of Camden is dead. The singer/songwriter who hit gold with her album Back To Black, which brought us such classics as Rehab, I Told You I’m No Good and the titular song, was found in her Camden home on Saturday at around 4pm, UK time. She was 27. It was a moment many expected, but hoped would never come. The car crash, when it finally came, was fatal.

Amy Winehouse singing

Amy grew up listening to the jazz records of her taxi-driving father, Mitch, in Southgate, North London, where she was born. The performance bug was caught early by the young Winehouse and from the age of eight, she attended three stage schools (and managed to be expelled from one of them for her “lack of application”). She co-wrote the jazz/R&B/soul infused first album Frank, which was released in 2003. The 60s Motown influenced Back To Black was released in 2006, the songs fuelled by the break up of her relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil. They got back together in 2007 and were married very quickly. From that moment on, Amy became tabloid fodder as they both spiralled into that familiar rock n’ roll abyss of drink and drugs. Mitch, who later became a successful singer in his own right, was the public face and voice of the family, expressing emotions from despair to exasperation. But the biggest emotion was always unconditional love.

Blake went to jail in 2008 for grievous bodily harm with intent and perverting the cause of justice by trying to pay off the pub landlord he assaulted. Amy divorced him in 2009. In that same year, she spent time in St. Lucia to ‘sort herself out’ and write her third album. There was hope that she had beaten her demons. But it was not to be. The album was still unfinished and last month, she cancelled her European tour after she was booed off stage in Belgrade for a shockingly bad performance, thanks to her old frenemies: drink and drugs. She was onstage, but not singing, at the Camden roundhouse on the Wednesday before she died, in support of the fledgling career of her Goddaughter, Dionne Bromfield.

She may had only produced two albums, but they made the kind of impact, especially Back To Black, that some bands 10 albums down the line could only dream of. There could’ve been more, if only she’d found the strength to pull herself out of that terrible hole.

I think in this case, you can only hope that Amy Winehouse really will rest in peace.

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17 comments

  1. Well done.


  2. As soon as I saw this in the news, I thought “Pie’s gonna be on this.” It’s so sad. Great jazz singer, and a good writer too, before the addictions took over. The earlier her recordings, the cleverer the material. It was like watching another Billie Holiday happen.
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFp-7Zr3ziw&w=480&h=390%5D


    • Ah, now. I’m glad you mentioned Billie Holiday.

      As much as I liked her music, one of things that irritated me to distraction about her singing style was that I felt it was an affectation of Billie Holiday. Just sing it straight, bird, I’d shout at the radio. What changed it for me was watching her do a live rendition of Love’s a losing game. There was no vocal trickery. It was just her, singing brilliantly. I was able then to appreciate the whole package of the music, the writing and the singing. Since she died on Saturday, I’ve had a little play of her songs from both albums on YouTube, Amazon and Spotify. She really was astounding. Her death has also raised the issue of addiction and how we should treat people who are in that dark space.

      It’s hard on her family and friends right now, and it seems to be terribly unfair, even though it was self-inflicted, but I think her mission on this earth is now complete. She deserves the rest.


      • I just played your link. I haven’t heard that track in years! That is utterly brilliant.


  3. What a cool site – seriously! I love the name and niche you have going on here. I’m so glad you stopped by or else I wouldn’t have known about you.

    As the Arnold says (although my delivery is less cool) “I’ll be back!”
    Beth


    • Thanks for that glowing reference. What you had to say about the pimping bloggers on your own blog was very good indeed. Welcome to my blog. Come back whenever you fancy.


  4. Ah I’ve managed to return to your blog posts and as usual they are well-written, provide good background and to the point!

    In regards to the late Miss Winehouse… Loved her songs – she was a very talented songwriter, but didn’t like her as a person at all. Whether it was due to the drug addiction, the portrayal from the paparazzi, or just the way she was, she came across as a bully. Hitting out at a fan and being drunk on stage was not a good way to win back her fans.
    It certainly is a sad day when death is brought so suddenly to one so talented, but I can’t quite have sympathy for her, rather my sympathies lie with her family and friends.
    Nevertheless, she’s going to become another musical legend in death even more so than life.


    • Yes, the sympathies should go to the family. After all, they’re now having to deal with the fallout that comes from the death of a loved one, whatever the circumstances – and so publicly too.

      Thanks for reminding me of that aspect of her personality. I imagine the people she’d assaulted wouldn’t be too upset at her passing. This post was certainly not intended to be a hagiography – as I stated in an earlier comment, I was initially irritated by what I saw as a knock-off Billie Holiday in the vocal style – but I think it was worth writing about, because she had definitely made her mark in the music world and I think it is being realised, sadly, now that she’s gone. As you know, sales of her Back to Black album has shot right up since she died. This is what I think will happen as a result: brace yourself as the off-cuts of her recordings for the elusive third album will appear in the not too distant future. The music industry will not be able to stop itself.

      By the way, it’s nice to see you again. Try not to leave it so long.


      • Well they did it with Elvis, Michael Jackson and they shall probably do it with her – the record companies are churning out the money from their talented graves.

        They should stop exploiting them. Let them rest in peace already!

        I’ll try not to lose myself in the dark tunnels of wordpress without a torch this time. =)


        • Well, I won’t be losing you in the dark, or anywhere else in the future – I’ve subscribed to your blog!


  5. Very well written Pie. I liked Amy’s music and I’m sad she came to such a sad end. I read an interesting piece in Psychology Today titled: Could Neuroscience Have Helped Amy Winehouse?
    Do roots of the troubled rock star’s death lie in brain chemistry?
    Scientists are just beginning to understand the brain pathways associated with addiction. The same personality characteristics that lead people to seek and achieve celebrity status may also pose a risk for addiction. I’ll leave it to you to locate the link.


    • I found the link and read the article. Very interesting. Genetic testing could be the preventative measure to identify the potential addict. With the creation of a drug or use of natural methods to raise the dopamine in the brain, there could be fewer people fulfilling their ‘destiny’ as an addict (and there would be no ’27 Club’ in the music industry). The article seemed to indicate that the people tested would be adults. Unfortunately, that person could be already on the road to oblivion by the time genetic testing is considered. And the person would have to be willing to be tested in the first place. Thanks for flagging it up.


  6. Pie,
    I know that house in Camden, walked past it many a time. That and the Hawley Arms and so many corners of Camden. The song that keeps playing on my Amy soundtrack is the one of Love being the Losing Game.
    Amy, now resting in peace at last, but by God, how I feel for Mitch and Janice. . . .


    • It’s harsh for the family, isn’t it? I know some areas of Camden, but not where she lived, or the Hawley Arms. I’ve never been there. It was known for some time as “the pub that Amy Winehouse goes to.” I expect from now on, it will be called “the Amy Winehouse pub.” In the not too distant future, you won’t even remember that it’s called the Hawley Arms.


  7. Thank you for this tribute to a great singer. When I heard Rehab for the first time, I got the album and listened to it non-stop in my car for more than a year. Then I got Frank and did the same thing. I just wish that she has a great life wherever she goes.


    • With any luck, she’ll do better in her next life. If you believe that kind of thing.



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