Amy Winehouse’s appetites for music and self-destruction often
came in equal measure.
With her huge signature beehive hairdo, smoky eye make-up and
extraordinary voice, Winehouse stood out from the crowd.
Her vocal style as well as her vulnerability led to comparisons
with greats such as Billie Holiday.
Winehouse’s distinctive style led to the tattooed singer being
hailed a style icon, becoming the muse for Karl Lagerfeld and
once being voted the “ultimate
heroine” among UK youngsters.
In February 2008, Winehouse was on a career high when she won
five prizes at the Grammy awards, despite being absent from the
The clutch of awards made her the first British female artist to
win five Grammys in one night.
But with the highs came the lows and trouble was never far away
from Winehouse, who had a talent for pouring her raw emotions
into her work.
She cancelled a tour this year after a disastrous appearance in
Serbia when she was booed by the angry crowd.
Despite her wild girl image Amy Jade Winehouse was from a stage
Born on September 14, 1983, she attended the Sylvia Young
Theatre School, where classmates included Billie Piper.
Brought up with a love for jazz, she grew up in a Jewish
household in North Finchley, north London, with father Mitch and
mother Janis, who were later divorced.
Winehouse claimed she was asked to leave the Sylvia Young
Theatre School and from there she went to a private school in
Intent on a music career after leaving school, she performed in
pubs while working as a fledgling journalist for a showbiz news
She was discovered while performing with the National Youth Jazz
Orchestra and signed to a division of 19 Management, the media
empire of Pop Idol creator Simon Fuller.
Frank was a jazz-tinged debut which showcased her powerful
The double-platinum selling album was nominated for two Brits
and the Mercury Music Prize, and won her an Ivor Novello
It was the soulful and honest Back To Black which propelled
Winehouse into superstardom.
It entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number seven, making
Winehouse the highest-debuting British female artist in the
history of the US album chart.
With Back To Black, Winehouse moved away from jazz and took
inspiration from 60s girl groups such as The Supremes.
She was crowned Queen of the Brits after picking up the coveted
gong for best solo female.
Winehouse may have been a huge hit with the listeners – but she
hasn’t always seemed to be her own greatest fan.
Winehouse should have been enjoying the fruits of her success
following her second album.
But instead the singer, whose tiny frame looked increasingly
skeletal, spoke about her problems with self-harm, bulimia and
Rehab, the first single from Back To Black, is about her refusal
to seek help at a clinic for people with alcohol problems.
After winning a Vodafone Live Music Award, Winehouse sent the
landlord of her local pub in her beloved Camden, the Hawley
Arms, to collect the gong.
And the outspoken star guaranteed herself acres of publicity by
criticizing her rivals, from Madonna (“an old lady”) to Dido
(“bland”) and Katie Melua (“shit”).
Married life for Winehouse did not get off to a great start,
with husband Blake Fielder-Civil – whom she married in 2007 –
spending time in jail.
Fielder-Civil had pleaded guilty in 2008 to inflicting grievous
bodily harm on pub landlord James King, 36, and also to
perverting the course of justice.
Throughout the court proceedings, Winehouse showed her loyalty
to her husband by attending hearings and mouthing words of
Paparazzi pictures of Winehouse’s increasingly bizarre nocturnal
activities shocked the nation and provided regular tabloid
The star has been pictured walking through central London in
blood-soaked shoes, with a bruised neck and bandaged arms.
Fielder-Civil was seen with blood
streaming out of cuts on his face.
Winehouse claimed later she attacked Fielder-Civil after he
caught her self-harming before attempting to take drugs with a
In August 2007, Winehouse was admitted to a London hospital
following an overdose. The star was said to have come close to
death after taking cocaine,
ecstasy, ketamine and marijuana.
The singer pulled out of a string of tour dates, then quit rehab
yet again, to the dismay of her parents. In June 2008 Winehouse
was taken to hospital after a
There were hopes that she could be returning to full health
after she spent eight months on the Caribbean island of St
Lucia. Her mother Janis said in 2009 that
her daughter had “done so well getting healthy again”.
She had been granted a quickie divorce from Fielder-Civil on the
grounds of her adultery the same year. Mrs Winehouse expressed
her fears at the time that
the pair could be reconciled, saying: “We all hope it’s not true
they’re back in
The pair could be reconciled, saying: “We all hope it’s not true
they’re back in touch, but Amy is like a child.
“She says, ’I love Blake, I love him’, and it’s hard to talk her
out of it.”
Fielder-Civil is currently in jail, having been sentenced to 32
months in prison in June for burglary and possession of an
As well as critical plaudits, Winehouse’s lyrics even merited
In 2008, students at Cambridge University were asked to Analise
her lyrics in a final-year English exam.
Undergraduates were invited to compare Winehouse’s songwriting
to ballads by Bob Dylan and Holiday, as well as the more
scholarly Sir Walter Raleigh in an
One critic said her song Love Is A Losing Game evoked “images of
cigarette smoke, empty vodka bottles and smudged mascara” and
was “perhaps the most
heartbreaking thing she’s ever recorded”.