Earlier today Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London Camden home. For so many reasons I am deeply saddened by this information. I have been a fan of her music for years now, I have read her biographies, and had much respect for her as a person and as a musician. I will miss her talent dearly, as I am sure many fans will.
Amy Winehouse was born September 14, 1983. This puts her into a very famous group of people… the ‘Forever 27 Club‘. This club includes artists who all passed away at the age of 27. The group’s first member was the Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, who passed away in 1969 after drowning in a pool. Then followed Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morison, and Janis Joplin. Years later, on April 8 1994, it was discovered that Kurt Cobain had died in his Seattle home days earlier – at the age of 27. His death was pronounced a suicide upon arrival, which I whole-heartedly do not believe, but that is another story entirely. Kurt Cobain’s mother Wendy O’Connor said this after her son’s death: “Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club, I told him not to join that stupid club.” Amy is now a part of that club. A group of extremely talented musicians, hopefully all making beautiful music together in Heaven. (Fact: Amy had been released from a London rehabilitation facility less than two months before her death. Kurt Cobain fled a California rehab facility days before his death.)
Amy Winehouse began singing at a very young age, mostly because of her father Mitchell Winehouse. Mitchell was a taxi cab driver who Amy described as having a great singing voice. He used to sing Frank Sinatra and other older acts to her, which is where her love of older jazzy music blossomed from. Her early years were littered with little bad-girl attempts at trouble-making. She joined a rap group and was constantly berated by teachers for singing, or being loud in class. She was only 10 when she joined the rap group, of which I could not find video evidence, but wish I could. When Amy was 14 years old, she was expelled from school. Apparently piercing her nose and “not applying herself” were enough to get kicked out of theater school. She continued singing and was signed in 2002 by Simon Fuller’s 19 Management.
With much help form producer Salaam Remi, Amy released “Frank” when she was only 20 years old. Then, in 2006 Amy released “Back to Black”, her exciting and soulful follow-up to “Frank”. This gained her world-wide respect and attention. “Rehab” was a huge hit, and made everyone look at her with that paparazzi eye. Even though she had a restraining order against a major tabloid paparazzi crew, her drug/alcohol/mental health issues were no secret to the public. Amy was seen as a hollywood bad girl. Not in the Lindsay Lohan “I am a rich brat with a short attention span” sense, but in the 1960s woeful real-life hardship “I sing the blues for a reason” sense. Her music changed my life. With songs like “You know I’m no good”, “I Heard Love is Blind”, “Tears Dry On Their Own” and “Back to Black”, listening made me feel like I was not alone. Like someone else in the world understood my hardships and had felt what I felt. It helped me through a lot over the years.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cause of Amy Winehouse’s death is still unknown.
London Police Superintendent Raj Kohli said at this “early stage” of the investigation the death remained “unexplained.”
“I am aware of reports suggesting this death is the result of a suspected drugs overdose, but I would like to re-emphasise that no post-mortem examination has yet taken place and it would be inappropriate to speculate on the cause of death,” Kohli said.
Amy Winehouse was many things. Yes, she was an addict, a boozer, and proclaimed she was “no good”… but I listened to every song she has ever created. I have heard the heartache and the issues she has had to deal with. She died much too early. I know that she had a lot more to give this world. It is a tragedy that she will never be able to get over her hurdles and bare her soul for one more record.
Rest in Peace Amy Winehouse: 1983-2011
Here are a few of my favorites…