Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September
1983 – 23 July 2011) was an English singer-songwriter known for her
powerful deep contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres
including R&B, soul and jazz. Winehouse's 2003 debut album, Frank, was
critically successful in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize.
Her 2006 follow-up album, Back to Black, led to six Grammy Award
nominations and five wins, tying the then record for the most wins by a
female artist in a single night, and made Winehouse the first British
female to win five Grammys, including three of the "Big Four": Best New
Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
On 14 February 2007, she won a BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist;
she had also been nominated for Best British Album. She won the Ivor
Novello Award three times, one in 2004 for Best Contemporary Song
(musically and lyrically) for "Stronger Than Me", one in 2007 for Best
Contemporary Song for "Rehab", and one in 2008 for Best Song Musically and
Lyrically for "Love Is a Losing Game", among other distinctions. The album
is the biggest seller of the 2000s in the United Kingdom. Winehouse is
credited as an influence in the rise in popularity of female musicians and
soul music, and also for revitalising British music.
Winehouse was found dead on 23 July 2011, at her home in London. On
October 26th, 2011, a coroner ruled that alcohol poisoning was the cause
of death. Winehouse's family and friends attended her funeral on 26 July
2011. In August 2011 her album Back to Black became the UK's best selling
album of the 21st century. Winehouse's final recording, a duet entitled
"Body and Soul" with Tony Bennett, was released on 14 September 2011 to
commemorate what would have been her 28th birthday. Proceeds from the song
will go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation "to support charitable activities
in both the UK and abroad that provide help, support or care for young
people, especially those who are in need by reason of ill health,
disability, ﬁnancial disadvantage or addiction".
Winehouse was born in the Southgate area of Enfield, London to a Jewish
family of Russian extraction on her father's side, who shared her love of
jazz music. She was raised in a family of four: her father Mitchell (a
taxi driver), her mother Janis (a pharmacist), and her older brother Alex.
Mitchell would constantly sing around the house, often singing Frank
Sinatra to young Amy, who also took to a constant habit of singing to the
point that teachers found it difficult keeping her quiet in class.
When Winehouse was nine years old, her grandmother, Cynthia, suggested she
attend the Susi Earnshaw Theatre School for further training. At age ten,
Winehouse founded a short-lived rap group called Sweet 'n' Sour with
childhood friend Juliette Ashby. She stayed at the Earnshaw school for
four years before seeking full time training at Sylvia Young Theatre
School, but was allegedly expelled at fourteen for "not applying herself"
and for piercing her nose. With other children from the Sylvia Young
School, she appeared in an episode of The Fast Show in 1997. She later
attended the BRIT School in Selhurst, Croydon and attended Southgate
School and Ashmole School.
After toying with her brother's guitar, Winehouse received her first
guitar when she was thirteen, and began writing music a year later. She
began working soon after, including as a "showbiz journalist" for the
World Entertainment News Network in addition to singing with a jazz band.
Her sometimes boyfriend at the time, soul singer Tyler James, sent her
demo tape to an A&R person. The tape led to her signing with record label
Island/Universal under Simon Fuller's company 19 Management, and to a
publishing deal with EMI.
Winehouse's debut album, Frank, was released on 20 October 2003. Produced
mainly by Salaam Remi, many songs had jazz-influences and, apart from two
covers, every song was co-written by Winehouse. The album received
positive reviews with compliments over the "cool, critical gaze" in its
lyrics and brought comparisons of her voice to Sarah Vaughan, Macy Gray
The album entered the upper levels of the UK album chart in 2004 when it
was nominated for BRIT Awards in the categories of "British Female Solo
Artist" and "British Urban Act". It went on to achieve platinum sales.
Later in 2004, she won the Ivor Novello songwriting Award for Best
Contemporary Song, alongside Salaam Remi, with her contribution to the
first single, "Stronger Than Me". The album also made the short list for
the 2004 Mercury Music Prize. In the same year, she performed at the
Glastonbury festival, on the Jazzworld stage, and at the V Festival.
After the release of the album, Winehouse commented that she was "only 80
percent behind the album" because of the inclusion by her record label of
certain songs and mixes she disliked. Upon the release of her second
album, she stated "I can’t even listen to Frank any more—in fact, I’ve
never been able to. I like playing the tracks live because that’s
different, but listening to them is another story." She later clarified
this, saying: "I listen to it differently now. I am still really proud of
it, I still think it's a great album. But, with hindsight, there are some
things I would have done differently... Just because I would do things a
bit differently now doesn't mean I don't like what's on that album."
In contrast to her jazz-influenced former album, Winehouse's focus shifted
to the girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s. In an interview, Winehouse
explained, "After Frank I didn’t write for 18 months but when I met Mark
Ronson. I pretty much wrote the album in six months—he was so inspiring."
Winehouse hired New York singer Sharon Jones's longtime band, the
Dap-Kings to back her up in the studio and on tour. In May 2006,
Winehouse's demonstration tracks such as "You Know I'm No Good" and
"Rehab" appeared on Mark Ronson's New York radio show on East Village
Radio. These were some of the first new songs played on the radio after
the release of "Pumps" and both were slated to appear on her second album.
The 11-track album was produced entirely by Salaam Remi and Ronson, with
the production credits being split between them. Promotion of Back to
Black soon began, and in early October 2006, Winehouse's official website
was re-launched with a new layout and clips of previously unreleased
Back to Black was released in the UK on 30 October 2006. It went to number
one on the UK Albums Chart numerous times, and entered at number seven on
the Billboard 200 in the United States. By 25 October, the album was
approaching 5x platinum in the UK, making it the best-selling album of
The album spawned a number of singles. The first single released from the
album on 23 October 2006 was the Ronson-produced "Rehab". The song was a
number-seven single in the UK, "Rehab" peaked at number nine on the
Billboard Hot 100 the week of 21 June, shortly after a performance of it
on the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. Time magazine named "Rehab" one of the 10
Best Songs of 2007, ranking it at number one. Writer Josh Tyrangiel
praised Winehouse for her confidence, opining, "What she is mouthy, funny,
sultry, and quite possibly crazy" and, "It's impossible not to be seduced
by her originality. Combine it with production by Mark Ronson that
references four decades worth of soul music without once ripping it off,
and you've got the best song of 2007." Also in 2007 Jay Z remixed the song
by adding new verses.
The album's second single, "You Know I'm No Good" was released on 8
January 2007 with a remix featuring rap vocals by Ghostface Killah. It
ultimately reached number 18 on the UK singles chart. Back to Black was
released in the United States in March 2007, with "You Know I'm No Good"
as its lead single. The title track, "Back to Black", was released in the
UK on 30 April 2007 and peaked at number 25. A deluxe edition of Back to
Black was also released on 5 November 2007 in the UK. The bonus disc
features B-sides, rare, and live tracks, as well as "Valerie". Winehouse's
debut DVD I Told You I Was Trouble: Live in London was released the same
day in the U.K. and 13 November in the U.S. It includes a live set
recorded at London's Shepherds Bush Empire and a 50-minute documentary
charting the singer's career over the previous four years. On 10 December
2007, the final single from Back to Black, "Love Is a Losing Game", was
released in the United Kingdom and U.S.
Frank was released in the United States on 20 November 2007 to positive
reviews. The album debuted at number 61 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Winehouse's tour, however, did not go as well. In November 2007, the
opening night of a 17-date tour was marred by booing and walkouts at the
National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. A music critic for the Birmingham
Mail newspaper said it was "one of the saddest nights of my life...I saw a
supremely talented artist reduced to tears, stumbling around the stage
and, unforgivably, swearing at the audience." Other concerts ended
similarly, until she announced on 27 November 2007, that her performances
and public appearances were cancelled for the remainder of 2007, citing
doctor advice to take a complete rest. A statement issued by concert
promoter Live Nation blamed "the rigours involved in touring and the
intense emotional strain that Amy has been under in recent weeks" for the
In addition to her own album, she has collaborated with other artists on
singles. Winehouse was a vocalist on the song "Valerie" on Ronson's solo
album Version. The song peaked at number two in the UK, upon its October
single release. The song was nominated for a 2008 Brit Award for "Best
British Single". Her work with ex-Sugababe Mutya Buena, "B Boy Baby," was
released on 17 December 2007. It served as the fourth single from Buena's
solo debut album Real Girl.
By year's end, Winehouse had garnered numerous accolades and awards. The
singer won 2008 Grammy Awards in the categories of Record of the Year,
Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single
"Rehab", while her album Back to Black was nominated for Album of the Year
and won the Best Pop Vocal Album award. Producer Mark Ronson's work with
her won the award in the Producer of the Year Non-Classical category. The
singer also earned a Grammy in the 'Best New Artist' category. This earned
Winehouse an entry in the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World
Records for Most Grammy Awards won by a British Female Act. She performed
"You Know I’m No Good" and "Rehab" at the awards ceremony on 10 February
2008 via satellite, as her visa approval came through too late for her to
travel to the U.S. She said "This is for London because Camden town is
burning down," in reference to the Camden Market fire. The nominations,
announced in early December, led to a 48 percent increase in the sales of
Back to Black in the United States. Post Grammy Awards, album sales
increased by 368 percent over the prior week, to the number 2 position in
the United States.
On 13 January 2008, Back to Black held the number one position on the
Billboard Pan European charts for the third straight week. In January
2008, Universal Music International said it believed that there was a
correlation between number of albums sold and the extensive media coverage
the singer had received.
On 20 February 2008, Winehouse performed at the 2008 BRIT Awards,
performing "Valerie" with Mark Ronson, followed by "Love Is a Losing
Game". She urged the crowd to "make some noise for my Blake."
A special deluxe edition of "Back to Black" topped the UK album charts on
2 March 2008. The original edition of the album resided at the number 30
position, in its 68th week on the charts, while "Frank" charted at number
35. By 12 March, the album had sold a total of 2,467,575 copies, 318,350
of those in the previous 10 weeks, putting the album on the UK's top 10
best-selling albums of the 21st century for the first time. On 7 April,
"Back to Black" was residing at the top position on the pan-European
charts for the sixth consecutive and thirteenth aggregate week.
In Paris, she performed what was described as a "well-executed 40 minute"
set at the opening of a Fendi boutique.
Back to Black was the world's seventh biggest selling album for 2008.
These sales helped keep Universal Music's recorded music division from
dropping to levels experienced by the overall music market.
At the 2008 Ivor Novello Awards, Winehouse became the first artist to
receive two nominations for the top award, best song, musically and
lyrically. She won the award for "Love Is a Losing Game" and was nominated
for "You Know I'm No Good". "Rehab", a Novello winner for best
contemporary song in 2006, also received a 2008 nomination for bestselling
British song. Winehouse was nominated for a MTV Europe Award in the Act of
The Year category.
Amy Winehouse – The Girl Done Good: A Documentary Review a 78 minute DVD
was released on 14 April 2008. The documentary features interviews with
those who knew her at a young age, helped her gain success, jazz music
experts, as well as music and pop culture specialists.
Winehouse's "Valerie" is on a three disc 60 song compilation album
entitled Now That's What I Call Music 25 Years, released in October 2008.
A clip of Winehouse's music is included in the "Roots and Influences" area
that looks at connections between different artists at the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame Annex NYC, which opened in December 2008. One thread starts
with Billie Holiday continues with Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige and
finishes with Winehouse.
In a poll of United States residents conducted for VisitBritain by Harris
Interactive that was released in March 2009, one fifth of those polled
indicated they had listened to Winehouse's music during the previous year.
According to a newspaper report Universal Music pressed her regarding new
material in 2008. According to that same report Winehouse as of 2
September had not been near a recording studio. It was noted that she had
touring obligations during the summer and also that if an album was
quickly recorded, it would be at least a year before an album could be
released. In late October, Winehouse's spokesperson was quoted as saying
that Winehouse has not been given a deadline to complete her third album,
for which she is learning to play drums.
Winehouse was asked to participate in the forthcoming tribute album for
Quincy Jones. but in May 2009 Mark Ronson was quoted in a British tabloid
as saying Winehouse was dropped from the project because the track she was
to contribute to the album was not finished and Winehouse was "not
During her 2009 stay in St. Lucia Winehouse worked on new music with
producer Salaam Remi. It has been confirmed by Island that a new album is
due in 2010, Island co-president, Darcus Beese stated "I've heard a couple
of song demos that have absolutely floored me".
British singer Adele has credited the success Winehouse has had in the
United States for making her and fellow British singer Duffy's journey to
the United States "a bit smoother". American singer Lady GaGa credited
Winehouse with paving the way for her rise to the top of the charts. She
appeared to be using a metaphorical analogy to explain that Winehouse made
it easier for offbeat women to have mainstream pop success.
The "Winehouse phenomenon" has been credited by Sebastian Danchin author
of Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Soul of kick starting a revival of
soul music that has been ongoing since 2000. Danchin quoting Raphael
Saadiq, Anthony Hamilton, and John Legend said "Amy Winehouse was produced
by people who wanted to create a marketing coup. The positive side is that
it reacquainted an audience with this music and played an introductory
role for others. This reinvigorated the genre by overcoming the vintage
The release of Back to Black and the emergence of Lily Allen has been
credited by The Sunday Times as directly creating the market for the media
proclaimed "the year of the women" in 2009 which has seen five female
artists nominated for the Mercury Prize. After the album was released
record companies sought out female artists with a similar sound and
fearless and experimental female musicians in general. Adele and Duffy
were the second wave of artists with a similar sound to Winehouse. A third
wave of female musicians that has emerged since the album was released are
led by VV Brown, Florence and the Machine, La Roux and Little Boots.
In February 2010 Jay-Z credited Winehouse with revitalizing British music
saying "There's a strong push coming out of London right now which is
great, It's been coming ever since I guess Amy (Winehouse). I mean always,
but I think Amy, this resurgence was ushered in by Amy"
Winehouse toured in conjunction with the Back to Black album's release.
She performed headlining gigs in September and November 2006, including
one of the Little Noise Sessions charity concerts at the Union Chapel,
Islington. On 31 December 2006, Winehouse appeared on Jools Holland's
Annual Hootenanny and performed a cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It
Through the Grapevine" along with Paul Weller and Holland's Rhythm and
Blues Orchestra. She also performed Toots & the Maytals' "Monkey Man". She
began a run of another fourteen gigs beginning in February 2007. At his
request Bruce Willis introduced Winehouse before her performance of
"Rehab" at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. Winehouse made awards organizers
nervous when she went on a Las Vegas jaunt in the hours before the show.
During the summer of 2007, Winehouse performed at various festivals,
including UK's Glastonbury Festival, Chicago's Lollapalooza festival, Rock
Werchter and Baltimore's Virgin Music Festival. Amid controversy
surrounding her health, drug use, and her then husband, in October 2007,
she cancelled her tour dates for the remainder of the year.
Although her father, manager and various members of her touring team
reportedly tried to dissuade her, Winehouse performed at the Rock in Rio
Lisboa festival in Lisbon, Portugal in May 2008. Although the set was
plagued by a late arrival and problems with her voice, the crowd warmed to
her. In addition to her own material she performed two Specials covers.
Winehouse performed at Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday Party concert at
London's Hyde Park on the 27 June, and the next day at the Glastonbury
Festival. On 12 July at the Oxegen Festival she performed a well received
50 minute set which was followed the next day by a 14 song set a T in the
Park. On 16 August she played at the Staffordshire leg of the V Festival
the following day played the Chelmsford leg of the festival. Organizers
said that Winehouse attracted the biggest crowds of the festival. Audience
reaction was reported as mixed. On 6 September she was the headliner at
the Bestival festival. She performed what was described as a polished set
which ended with her storming off the stage. Her hour late arrival caused
her set to be cut off at the halfway point due to a curfew.
In May 2009 Winehouse returned to performing at a Jazz festival in St.
Lucia amid torrential downpours and technical difficulties. During her
hour long set it was reported she was unsteady on her feet and had trouble
remembering lyrics. She apologized to the crowd for being "bored" and
ended her set by walking off the stage in the middle of a song.
To a cheering crowd on 23 August at the V festival Winehouse sang with the
The Specials on their songs You're Wondering Now and Ghost Town.
On 10 July 2008, Winehouse launched her own club night, Snakehips at the
Monarch, in the Camden Monarch venue in London. Although billed as a DJ
battle between her and another DJ, she stayed behind the decks swaying as
another person actually played 1960s music. She appeared at another
Snakeships event at the Monarch on the night of 11 September. After
reportedly arriving two hours late she spun music and played a short
Winehouse married on-off boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil (born August 1978),
a former video production assistant. on 18 May 2007, in Miami, Florida.
Fielder-Civil was a "grammar school dropout" who moved to London at aged
16 from his native Lincolnshire. In a June 2007 interview, Winehouse
admitted she could be violent towards Fielder-Civil when she had been
In August 2007 Winehouse and her then husband were photographed, bloodied
and bruised, in the streets of London after an alleged fight, although she
contended her injuries were self-inflicted. Winehouse's parents and
in-laws publicly reported their numerous concerns, citing fears that the
two might commit suicide, with Fielder-Civil's father encouraging fans to
boycott her music.
Blake Fielder-Civil was quoted in a British tabloid as saying he
introduced crack cocaine and heroin to Winehouse." During a visit with
Mitch Winehouse at the prison in July 2008, Fielder-Civil reportedly said
that he and Winehouse would cut themselves to ease the pain of withdrawal.
From 21 July 2008 to 25 February 2009 Fielder-Civil was imprisoned
following his guilty plea on charges of trying to pervert the course of
justice as well as a charge of grievous bodily harm with intent. The
incident involved a July 2007 to an assault on a pub landlord that
resulted in a broken cheek. According to the prosecution the landlord
accepted £200,000 as part of a deal to "effectively throw the court case
and not turn up". The prosecution testified that the money used to pay off
the landlord belonged to Winehouse,.” but that Winehouse pulled out of a
meeting with the men involved in the plot, because Winehouse had to attend
an awards ceremony. Winehouse was rebuked for her behaviour several times
by court officials during the legal proceedings in the matter.
Winehouse was spotted with aspiring actor Josh Bowman on holiday in St.
Lucia in early January 2009, saying she was "in love again, and I don't
need drugs." She commented that the "whole marriage was based on doing
drugs" and that "for the time being I've just forgotten I'm even married."
On 12 January, Winehouse's spokesperson confirmed that "papers have been
received" for what Fielder-Civil's solicitor has said is divorce
proceedings based on a claim of adultery. On 25 February Blake
Fielder-Civil was quoted as saying that he planned to continue divorce
proceedings to give himself a drug-free fresh start. In March Winehouse
was quoted in a magazine as saying "I still love Blake and I want him to
move into my new house with me—that was my plan all along ... I won't let
him divorce me. He's the male version of me and we're perfect for each
Winehouse and Fielder-Civil were granted a divorce on 16 July 2009, which
became final on 28 August 2009. Neither party attended the hearing or were
in court to witness the event. Fielder-Civil filed for divorce earlier in
2009 on the grounds of infidelity; Winehouse did not contest the divorce.
Winehouse's battles with substance abuse have been the subject of much
media attention. In various interviews, she has admitted to having
problems with self-harm, depression and eating disorders. In 2005, she
went through a period of drinking, heavy drug use, violent mood swings and
weight loss. People who saw her during that fall and early 2006 reported a
rebound that coincided with the writing of Back to Black. Her family
believes that the summer 2006 death of her grandmother, who was a
stabilizing influence, set off into addiction.
In August 2007, Winehouse cancelled a number of shows in the UK and
Europe, citing exhaustion and ill health. She was hospitalized during this
period for what was reported as an overdose of heroin, ecstasy, cocaine,
ketamine and alcohol. Winehouse told a magazine that the drugs were to
blame for her hospitalization and that "I really thought that it was over
for me then." Soon after, Winehouse's father commented that when he had
made public statements regarding her problems, he was using the media
because it seemed the only way to get through to her.
On 2 December 2007, images of the singer outside her home in the early
morning hours, barefoot and wearing only a bra and jeans, appeared on the
internet and in tabloid newspapers. In a statement, her spokesperson
blamed paparazzi harassment for the incident. The spokesperson reported
that the singer was in a physician-supervised program and was channelling
her difficulties by writing a lot of music.
The British tabloid The Sun posted a video of a woman, alleged to be
Winehouse, apparently smoking crack cocaine and speaking of having taken
ecstasy and valium. Winehouse's father moved in with her, and Island
Records, her record label, announced the abandonment of plans for an
American promotion campaign on her behalf. In late January 2008, Winehouse
reportedly entered a rehabilitation facility for a two week treatment
On 23 January 2008, the video was passed on to Scotland Yard, Metropolitan
Police, who questioned her on 5 February. To date no charges have been
On 26 March 2008, Winehouse's spokesperson said she was "doing well" and
denied a published report in a British tabloid that consideration was
being given to having her return to rehab. Her record company reportedly
believed that her recovery remained fragile.
By late April 2008, her erratic behaviour, including an allegation of
assault, caused fear that her drug rehabilitation efforts have been
unsuccessful, leading to efforts by Winehouse's father and manager to seek
assistance in having her sectioned.
Her disheveled appearance during and after a scheduled club night in
September sparked new fears. Photographers were quoted as saying she
appeared to have cuts on her legs and arms.
In a interview released in June 2009 Winehouse's father said the singer
was in a drug replacement programme. He said she was gradually recovering
but that heavy alcohol use was causing "slight backward steps". A
documentary shot early in 2009 shows Winehouse apparently intoxicated
according to a newspaper report.
Pictures published by a magazine in July 2009 upon her return to the
United Kingdom from her extended stay in St. Lucia appeared to show that
Winehouse had gained weight and that her complexion was improved.
On 23 June 2008, Winehouse's publicist corrected earlier misstatements by
Mitch Winehouse that his daughter has a small amount of emphysema, instead
claiming she has signs of what could lead to early-stage emphysema. Mitch
Winehouse had also stated that his daughter's lungs are operating at 70
percent capacity and that she had an irregular heartbeat. Mr. Winehouse
said these problems were caused by her chain cigarette smoking and crack
cocaine use. The singer’s father also reported that doctors have warned
Winehouse that continued smoking of crack cocaine will result in her
having to wear an oxygen mask and will be fatal. In a radio interview,
Mitch Winehouse said the singer is responding "fabulously" to treatment
which includes being covered with nicotine patches. British Lung
Foundation spokesperson Dr. Keith Prowse noted this type of condition can
be managed with treatment. Prowse also said the condition is not normal
for a person her age but "heavy smoking and inhaling other substances like
drugs can age the lungs prematurely". Dr. Norman H. Edelman, Chief Medical
Officer for the American Lung Association explained that if she stopped
smoking her lung functions would decline at the rate of a normal person
but continued smoking would lead to a more rapid decline in lung function.
Photographs of the singer with a cigarette in her mouth, taken 23 June
2008, were widely published. Winehouse was released from The London Clinic
24 hours after returning from a temporary leave to perform at the Mandela
90th birthday and Glastonbury concerts, and is now being treated as an
outpatient. On 23 July Winehouse stated that she had been diagnosed with
"some areas of emphysema" and said she is getting herself together by
"eating loads of healthy food, sleeping loads, playing my guitar, making
music and writing letters to my husband every day".
Winehouse began precautionary testing on her lungs and chest on 25 October
2008, at The London Clinic for what has been reported as a chest
infection. Winehouse who has been in and out of the facility has been
granted permission to set her own schedule regarding home leave. She
returned to the hospital on 23 November 2008 for a reported reaction to
In October 2007, Winehouse and her ex husband were arrested in Bergen,
Norway for possession of seven grams of marijuana. The couple were later
released and fined 3850 kroner (around £350). Winehouse first appealed the
fines claiming she was "duped" into confessing, but later dropped the
On 26 April 2008, Winehouse was cautioned after she admitted to police she
slapped a man in the face: a "common assault" offense. The incident, for
which she has apologised, will stay on her record and could be used
against her if she is charged with a similar offence at a future time. She
voluntarily turned herself in and was held overnight. Police said, at her
arrival she was "in no fit state" to be interviewed.
Winehouse was arrested on 7 May 2008 on suspicion of possessing drugs
after a video of her apparently smoking crack cocaine was passed to
Scotland Yard in January, but was released on bail a few hours later
because they could not confirm, from the video, what she was smoking. The
Crown Prosecution Service considered charging her with possessing a
controlled drug and allowing her premises to be used for the supply by
others of a controlled drug, but she was cleared when the service could
not establish that the substance in the video was a controlled drug. In
reaction to the decision, former Scotland Yard commander John O’Connor
said it is an "absolute scandal that nothing could be done" about
Winehouse "cooking a snook at the law". Some Members of Parliament also
reacted negatively. Two London residents were subsequently charged with
conspiracy to supply cocaine and ecstasy to Winehouse. One of the pair was
sentenced to two years in prison on 13 December 2008, while the other
received a two year community order.
On 29 January 2009, Winehouse's home was burgled while she was away on
holiday resulting in the loss of several guitars, recording equipment and
a flat screen television according to her spokesperson. Metropolitan
Police said some of the electronic equipment taken has been recovered.
On 5 March 2009, Winehouse was arrested and charged with common assault
following a claim by a woman that Winehouse hit her in the eye at a
September 2008 Prince's Trust charity ball. Winehouse's spokesperson
announced the singer has cancelled a scheduled United States Coachella
Festival appearance in "light of current legal issues". Swearing in under
her legal name of Amy Jade Civil, Winehouse appeared in court on 17 March
to enter her plea of not guilty. On 23 July her assault trail began with
prosecutor Lyall Thompson charging that Winehouse acted with "deliberate
and unjustifiable violence" while appearing to be under the influence of
alcohol or another substance. The women Sharene Flash testified that
Winehouse "punched me forcefully in my right eye. She used a fist, her
right one. I started crying with shock. I couldn’t open my eye for a
while.” Winehouse testified that she did not punch Flash, but tried to
push Flash away from her because she was scared of Flash. Winehouse cited
her worry that Flash would sell her story to a tabloid, Flash's height
advantage, and Flash's "rude" behavior as reasons for her fear of Flash.
On the 24 July District Judge Timothy Workman ruled that Winehouse was not
guilty of the charge. Workman cited the facts that all but two of the
witnesses were intoxicated at the time of the incident and that medical
evidence did not show "the sort of injury that often occurs when there is
a forceful punch to the eye".
On 19 December 2009, Winehouse was arrested again on charges of common
assault plus another charge of public order offence. Winehouse assaulted
the front-of-house manager of the Milton Keynes Theatre after he asked her
to move from her seat. On 20 January 2010, she admitted common assault and
disorderly behaviour. She was given a two year conditional discharge and
ordered to pay £85 court costs and £100 compensation to the man she
Over the last several years there have been almost daily paparazzi
published photographs of Winehouse. The singer has obtained an injunction
against them under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The court
order bans a leading paparazzi agency from following her. Photographers
are also banned from following her within 100 meters of her home and
photographing Winehouse in her home or the home of her friends and family.
According to a newspaper report sources close to the singer said legal
action was taken out of concern for the safety of Winehouse and those
close to her.
Winehouse joined a campaign to stop a block of flats being built beside
the George Tavern, a famous London East End music venue. Campaign
supporters feared the residential development would end the spot's
lucrative sideline as a film and photo location, on which it relies to
As part of a breast cancer awareness campaign Winehouse appeared in a
revealing photograph for the April 2008 issue of Easy Living magazine.
Winehouse had an estimated £10m fortune, tying her for tenth place in the
2008 Sunday Times listing of the wealth of musicians under age thirty. The
following year her fortune had dropped to an estimated £5m. Her finances
are run by Mitch and Janis Winehouse. It was reported she earned about £1m
singing at two private parties during Paris Fashion Week. as well as
another £1m to perform at a Moscow Art Gallery for Russian oligarch Roman
Winehouse loaned a vintage dress used in her video for Tears Dry on My Own
as well as a DVD to the British Music Experience, a new museum dedicated
to the history of British Pop. The museum, located in the O2 Centre opened
on 9 March 2009.
In January 2009 Winehouse announced that she was launching her own record
label. The first act on the label entitled Lioness Records is Winehouse's
13 year old goddaughter, Dionne Bromfield. Bromfield is scheduled to
release her first album which features covers of classic soul records on
12 October. Winehouse is the backing singer on several tracks on the album
and she performed backing vocals for Bromfield on the television programme
Strictly Come Dancing on 10 October.
Winehouse and her family are the subject of a 2009 documentary shot by
Daphne Barak entitled Saving Amy. She entered into a joint venture in 2009
with EMI to launch a range of wrapping paper and gift cards containing
song lyrics from her album Back to Black. On 8 January 2010 a television
documentary My Daughter Amy aired on Channel 4. Saving Amy was released as
a paperback book in January 2010.
Winehouse performed with Rhythms del Mundo on their cover of the Sam Cooke
song Cupid for an "Artists Project Earth" benefit album that was released
on 13 July 2009.
Winehouse's dichotomous public image of critical and commercial success
versus personal turmoil has proven to be controversial. The New Statesman
magazine called Winehouse "a filthy-mouthed, down-to-earth diva," while
Newsweek magazine called her "a perfect storm of sex kitten, raw talent
and poor impulse control." Karen Heller with The Philadelphia Inquirer
summarized the maelstrom this way:
She's only 24 with six Grammy nods, crashing headfirst into success and
despair, with a codependent husband in jail, exhibitionist parents with
questionable judgement, and the paparazzi documenting her emotional and
physical distress. Meanwhile, a haute designer (Karl Lagerfeld)
appropriates her dishevelled style and eating issues to market to the
elite while proclaiming her the new Bardot.
By 2008, her continued drug problems threatened her career. Even as Nick
Gatfield, the president of Island Records, toyed with the idea of
releasing Winehouse "to deal with her problems", he remarked on her
talent, saying, "It’s a reflection of her status in the U.S. that when you
flick through the TV coverage (of the Grammys) it’s her image they use."
Post-Grammys, some questioned whether Winehouse should have been honored
with the awards given her recent personal and drug problems, including
Natalie Cole, who introduced Winehouse at the ceremony. Cole (who battled
her own substance-abuse problems while winning a Grammy for Best New
Artist in 1975) remarked, "I think the girl is talented, gifted, but it's
not right for her to be able to have her cake and eat it too. She needs to
get herself together."
In an opinion newspaper commentary, Antonio Maria Costa, executive
director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that the
alleged drug habits of Winehouse and other celebrities sends a bad message
"to others who are vulnerable to addiction" and undermines the efforts of
other celebrities trying to raise awareness of problems in Africa, now
that more cocaine used in Europe passes through Africa. Winehouse's
spokesperson called Costa a "ludicrous man" and noted that "Amy has never
given a quote about drugs or flaunted it in any way. She's had some
problems and is trying to get better. The U.N. should get its own house in
order." Graeme Pearson, the former head of Scotland's drug enforcement
agency, criticised Winehouse and Kate Moss for making going to rehab a
badge of honour, thus giving the false impression that quitting drugs is
easy, because many can not afford to go to clinics.
Winehouse has become a staple in popularity polls. The 2008 NME Awards
nominated Winehouse in the categories of "Villain of the Year", "Best Solo
Artist", and "Best Music DVD"; Winehouse won for "Worst Dressed
Performer". In its third annual list, Glamour magazine named Winehouse the
third worst dressed British Woman. Winehouse was ranked number two on
Richard Blackwell's 48th annual "Ten Worst Dressed Women" list, behind
Victoria Beckham. In an April 2008 poll conducted by Sky News, Winehouse
was named the second greatest "ultimate heroine" by the UK population at
large, topping the voting for that category of those polled under 25 years
old. Psychologist Donna Dawson commented that the results demonstrate
women like Winehouse who have "a certain sense of vulnerability or have
had to fight against some adversity in their lives” receive recognition.
Winehouse was voted the second most hated personality in the United
Kingdom in a poll conducted one month later by Marketing magazine.
June 2008 brought a report that Winehouse, singing a disparaging chant
about blacks, the disabled, and homosexuals, and containing racial
epithets about Pakistanis and Indians, was taped by her former husband
Fielder-Civil, despite assurances to her that he was not filming.
Winehouse denied allegations that she was a racist, saying "I don't want
to play anything down, but I'm the least racist person going." Winehouse
added that the film was taken during "really, really happy times."
Speaking at a discussion entitled Winehouse or White House?: Do we go too
big on showbiz news? Jeff Zycinski, head of BBC Radio Scotland, said the
BBC and media in general were complicit in the destruction of celebrities
like Winehouse. He said that public interest in the singer's lifestyle
does not make her lifestyle newsworthy. Rod McKenzie editor of the BBC
Radio One program Newsbeat replied that "If you play Amy Winehouse's music
to a certain demographic, those same people want to know what's happening
in her private life. If you don't cover it, you're insulting young licence
British singer and songwriter Lily Allen was quoted in a Scottish
newspaper as saying "I know Amy Winehouse very well. And she is very
different to what people portray her as being. Yes, she does get out of
her mind on drugs sometimes, but she is also a very clever, intelligent,
witty, funny person who can hold it together. You just don't see that
London's Mall Galleries opened an exhibit in May 2008 that includes a
sculpture of Winehouse, entitled Excess. The piece has the singer sitting
on top of a smashed champagne bottle, a pool of liquid beneath her feet.
The body is covered with what appeared to be tiny pills, while one
outstretched hand holds a wine glass.
A wax sculpture of Winehouse went on display at the London Madame Tussauds
on 23 July 2008. The singer did not attend the unveiling, although her
A sculpture by Marco Perego, entitled "The Only Good Rock Star Is a Dead
Rock Star", that depicts Winehouse lying in a pool of blood with a bullet
hole in her head after being shot by American novelist and beat poet
William S. Burroughs, was scheduled to go on display in New York’s Half
Gallery on 14 November 2008. The sale price for the sculpture is listed at
US $100,000. Perego said of the sculpture "Rock stars are the sacrificial
animals of society." Winehouse’s spokesperson said "It’s a funny kind of
tribute. The artist seems in thrall to a tabloid persona that is not the
real Amy. People often use her image to sell their work".