A death foretold: The rapid rise and tragic fall of Amy Winehouse, the deeply flawed soul prodigy


In just 27 years, Amy Winehouse has managed to leave behind her a soul legacy, with a band of modern British female soul singers - Adele, Duffy, Jessie J - celebrating success across the world borne almost entirely in her wake.

Sadly, however, the immeasurably gifted singer is unlikely to be remembered for her talents, which were so often starved; drowned by drink and tranquillised by drug abuse.

Amy Winehouse's death was one foretold by gruesome pictures of bloody plimsolls and near death experiences from drugs publicly retold by her lovers. It almost seems unsurprising that, in death, Winehouse joins many of her heroes - Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison - all of whom died aged just 27.

Innocent: Winehouse before the career, the drugs, the drink and the scandal. Aged just two (left) and eight

Her parents split when she was nine years old and she and older brother Alex moved to live with their mother in Southgate, North London - just minutes away from The Priory, the rehab clinic favoured by celebrities, which she would revisit just months before her death.

'She was always very self-willed,' her father Mitch told Rolling Stone in 2007. 'Not badly behaved but...different.'

Keeping things simple: A fresh-faced Amy performs wearing just a white T-shirt and jeans back in 2004 and at the Q Awards the same year

The balance between her precocious musical talents and a seeming inclination to self-destruct were clear from a young age. At just 12, Winehouse enrolled at the Sylvia Young Theatre School but was expelled not long after for getting her nose pierced.

She had previously - aged 10 -formed a rap group, Sweet 'n' Sour - Winehouse was Sour - that she later described as 'the little white Jewish Salt 'n' Pepa.'

She joined the Brit School and by 16 her otherworldly soul voice - deep, full and knowing but light and fresh and fragile at the same time - had won her a contract with Simon Fuller's management company, which led to her being signed by Island Records.

A tattoo appears: Winehous still looking fresh faced in 2005, and sporting her new tattoo the next year

In 2003, she would release her first album - to much critical acclaim - while also meeting the man with whom she would share possibly the most destructive celebrity relationship of the decade.

The jazz-influenced debut, titled 'Frank', was critically praised for its gems - the anthemic Stronger Than Me, about a weak, feminine boyfriend and F**k Me Pumps, in which she ridiculed tired female gold-diggers, and earned Winehouse an Ivor Novello songwriting award, two Brit nominations and a spot on the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize.

But Winehouse soon expressed dissatisfaction with the disc, saying she was 'only 80 per cent behind' the album.

Losing weight: The singer has acquired more tattos at the 2007 Brit Awards, left, and looks gaunt at the MTV music video awards in Losa Angeles in the same year

That same year, she met Blake Fielder-Civil at a bar and swiftly had his name tattooed above her heart.

The relationship was on-off and infamously tempestuous, involving drug and drink binges. In one picture from 2007, she was seen with bruises on her face and blood seeping from her pink ballet shoes.

She grips Blake, as he displays a face full of scratches after a particularly viscious late night bust-up.

The voice: Amy Winehouse's talent was such that it has opened doors for many other young female soul singers who have earned huge success since her breakthrough. She is pictured performing in 2008

By 2006, after three years with Blake, rapid weight loss, an ever-expanding beehive hairdo and documented drug and drink problems, Winehouse released Back to Black, her breakthrough album, which made her a huge star across the world.

Working with producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi and soul-funk group the Dap-Kings, Winehouse fused soul, jazz, doo-wop and, above all, a love of the girl-groups of the early 1960s with lyrical tales of romantic obsession and emotional excess.

Back to Black was released in the United States in March 2007 and went on to win five Grammy awards, including song and record of the year for Rehab.

'I did [go to rehab], for just 15 minutes,' she told The Sun at the time. 'I went in and said, "Hello" and explained that I drink because I'm in love and have f****d up the relationship. Then I walked out.'

Winehouse's rise was helped by her distinctive look - black beehive of hair, thickly lined cat eyes, girly tattoos - and her tart tongue.

She was famously blunt in her assessment of her peers, once describing Dido's sound as 'background music - the background to death' and saying of pop princess Kylie Minogue, 'she's not an artist ... she's a pony.'

The songs on Black to Black detailed her relationship with Blake with a similar frankness.

Big night: Amy climbs into a car at the end of an evening out drinking at Balans in Soho

Wrecked: Amy is bruised, smudged and has blood on her feet, while Blake's face has been scratched

Happier times: Amy is seen here looking healthier with her father Mitch

Triumphs: Amy Winehouse hugs her mother Janis Winehouse after accepting a Grammy Award in London on February 10, 2008

Winehouse stood by 'my Blake' throughout his trial, often blowing kisses at him from the court's public gallery and wearing a heart-shaped pin labelled 'Blake' in her hair at concerts. But British newspapers reported extramarital affairs while Fielder-Civil was behind bars. They divorced in 2009.

After the split, Fielder-Civil described how he thought Winehouse had died in his arms following a three-day drugs binge.

Amy went into a seizure at a party at her home in Camden, North London, and had stopped breathing.

Blake told The Sun: 'She started having a fit on the bed. She slid down on to the floor before I could stop her. She started quivering again and it suddenly grew into what seemed like a full-blown epileptic fit.

'I was panicking. I didn't know know how to help her. I was out of it on drugs as well - and was sobbing and crying out, "Amy!"'

Trial: Amy is photographed as she is led to court for an appearance

'At first nothing happened. So I did it again. I was feeling for her pulse because I thought her heart might have stopped.

'Then she spluttered - and I saw her chest rise. I was still sobbing and panicking but I just felt this huge relief that she was alive.'

In June 2008 and again in April 2010, Winehouse was taken to hospital and treated for injuries after fainting and falling at home.

Her father said she had developed the lung disease emphysema from smoking cigarettes and crack, although her spokeswoman later said Winehouse only had 'early signs of what could lead to emphysema.'

Stern: Winehouse was accused of attacking a theatre manager in Milton Keynes

She left the hospital to perform at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert in Hyde Park in June 2008, and at the Glastonbury festival the next day, where she received a rousing reception but scuffled with a member of the crowd.

She also, in 2010, pleaded guilty to assaulting a theatre manager who asked her to leave a family Christmas show because she'd had too much to drink.

She was given a fine and a warning to stay out of trouble by a judge who praised her for trying to clean up her act.

In a bid to save her ailing health and desperate addiction problems, Winehouse most recently booked herself into rehab in May.

A month previously she had pulled out of her European tour after she was jeered while appearing drunk on stage at her comeback gig in Serbia.

She left the stage frequently, with her band having to improvise in her absence, and was said to have mumbled through parts of her songs.

After the disastrous gigs, the stint at The Priory in May was hoped to have been a means finally to refocus the young singer.

Winehouse, however, checked herself out after just one week.

Amy Winehouse dead at 27 - is she another member of the 'Stupid Club'?

Memorable: The singer is unlikely to be forgotten for a long time - for her music as much as for her troubles

Tragic: Amy Winehouse at the peak of her powers, wowing crowds with her incredible voice and haunting lyrics

Amy Winehouse - Love Is a Losing Game (Live Mercury Prize)

Winehouse Booed Off Stage in Serbia

Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty on drugs

source: dailymail
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