Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse dead at 27

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Note: this entry has been updated since its original July 23 post.

27-year-old singer Amy Winehouse was found dead at her London home today. No official cause of death was cited, LA but suspicions immediately turned to drug overdose. DM An autopsy is anticipated for Sunday or Monday. SR Her body was discovered shortly before 4:00pm local time. CS Paramedics responded within five minutes. She was pronounced her dead at the scene. DM Winehouse won Grammys for song and record of the year for 2006 song “Rehab” and was named Best New Artist.

Her performance at the 2008 Grammy telecast was broadcast via satellite from London. Speculation was that she had entered a rehab center and was denied a visa. LA She was hospitalized and sought treatment multiple times at rehabilitation facilities – most recently in May of this year. SR Tabloids often featured her looking dishevled and incoherent SR and focused on her “tempestuous relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, who she married in May 2007 and divorced in July 2009.” NME

Just a month ago, Winehouse canceled a twelve-date European tour. She showed up over an hour late for the kick-off gig in Serbia and then forgot lyrics to her songs and repeatedly left the stage, MTV seemingly too intoxicated to sing. NME In a 2008 interview, her mother Janice acknowledged her daughter’s problems, saying “We’re watching her kill herself, slowly. I’ve already come to terms with her dead.” DM

Winehouse once responded to a reporter’s “where will you be in 10 years” question with the joking, but sadly prescient quip, “Dead. Dead in a ditch, on fire.” RE When spending time with Winehouse for a 2007 cover story, Spin editor-in-chief Steve Kandell found her “aloof and dismissive of her newfound fame.” SP As he said, “she wasn’t interested in much other than whatever was making her feel good…and she surrounded herself with people who allowed for that.” SP He continued, saying, “That seemed rebellious and intriguing – an idea that seems hopelessly flippant now…We convinced ourselves to look at that as darkly romantic, or even as something to celebrate.” SP

Despite such well-publicized troubles, the confirmation of her death was still, as Mojo magazine said, “both shocking and pitiful.” MJ In a testament to her impact, 10% of all tweets (or 20 million) mentioned Winehouse on Twitter within minutes of the report. DM posted reactions from the music world, such as Rihanna’s tweet: “Dear Amy U made a MAJAH impression on this industry and throughout the world in such a short space of time…too short!” BB Winehouse joins a list of famous musicians who also died at 27 – Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, and Kurt Cobain. Paste magazine’s Bonnie Stiernberg said, “it’s a tragedy to see yet another talented musician silenced as such a young age.” PS

Click to see the DMDB page for ‘Frank’

She was born Amy Jade Winehouse on September 14, 1983 in Southgate, north London. Her dad, Mitch, was a double-glazing salesman and later a taxi driver while her mother, Janis, was a pharmacist. MM She developed an interest in jazz at an early age thanks to professional jazz-playing uncles and Dad’s record collection of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington. MM She has also said she listened to Madonna’s Immaculate Collection every day for four years before discovering hip-hop at age 11. She also wanted to be a roller-skating waitress, inspired by George Lucas’ 1973 movie American Graffiti. MM

In school, she was often in trouble for singing in class. At 12, she auditioned for the Sylvia Young Theatre, but three years later was expelled for disruption, poor grades, and a nose piercing. MM She then spent time at the Brit school in Croydon MM before Tyler James, a schoolmate and soul hopeful, MM passed her demo tape to his A&R, which led to a recording contract with Island Records.

Winehouse’s debut album, Frank, was released in 2003 just weeks after her 20th birthday. That “collection of jazzy neo-soul tunes” LA earned her comparisons with soul greats like Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. The album nominated for the Mercury Prize (a UK version of the Grammy) and won her an Ivor Novello songwriting award for the single “Stronger Than Me”.

That album set the stage for 2006’s Back to Black. On that album, which has sold more than 15 million worldwide, “her brassy voice, retro Motown sound and painfully personal lyrics made her one of the most acclaimed female singers of the past decade.” RS Black was named Album of the Year by Dave’s Music Database.

Click to see the DMDB page for ‘Back to Black’

Winehouse’s success paved the way for a British blue-eyed soul movement which has included singers like Duffy, Adele, and Florence + the Machine. Winehouse was reportedly working on a new album at the time of her death. Jay-Z once told the BBC that he thought she had “re-invigorated British music.” MM Mark Ronson, who produced Black, said, “She was my musical soul mate and like a sister to me. This is one of the saddest days of my life.” Q

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