Amy Jade Winehouse was born on September 14th, 1983 in Southgate London to Jewish parents. Her father, Mitchell, a taxi driver, was a jazz enthusiast who often sang to Amy in her growing-up years. Her parents divorced when she was nine, and she continued to live with her mother, although she remained close to her father.
At the young age of eight, Amy began attending stage school, including the Sylvia Young theatre school, and the Brit school in Croydon. Although she was expelled from one of them for “not applying herself,” Amy continued to write songs and sing with jazz bands and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Her boyfriend of the time passed on a recording of her to a record company, who were so impressed with her sound that she landed her first contract at the age of 17.
A musical assistant who toured with Amy described her, “She has enormous talent and deep roots in jazz and blues; she didn’t suffer from the ‘lead singer syndrome’ and unlike most she knew her sharps and flats. And she knew exactly who she was and how she wanted to sound – which some singers only know when they’ve got 40 grand’s worth of equipment, but which Amy knew by standing on top of a piano in a pub.”
Her debut album ‘Frank’ released in 2003 and won her critical recognition and nominations for the Mercury Prize, going triple platinum in the UK. But it was her second album ‘Back to Black’ that propelled Amy into international stardom. Winning her accolades at the Grammy’s and the Brit Awards, the album went eight times platinum in the UK and double platinum in the US. But tragically, her rise to stardom also saw her steady decline into alcohol and drugs. Her tempestuous relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil added depression to the mix, and Amy found herself in and out of rehab, and in trouble with the law. Ironically it was her song ‘Rehab’ about her refusal to attend an alcohol rehabilitation centre that stuck the deepest chord with her fans.
Amy was found dead in her London flat on 23rd July, at the age of 27, joining the troupe of talented but notoriously self-destructive artists who also died at that age. Her death was believed to be caused by a suspected drug overdose. She is survived by her parents, and her brother Alex.