By Amy Senior, Chief Entertainment Correspondent
“I have known for a long time that my daughter has problems. We’re watching her kill herself slowly.
“It’s like watching a car crash – this person throwing these gifts away. I’ve already come to terms with her dead. I’ve steeled myself to ask her on what ground she wants to be buried, in which cemetery.”
Janis Winehouse (nee Seaton), 2008.
No truer words had been spoken about Amy Winehouse and from her own mother no less.
Yesterday at 4:05pm ambulance services were called to the singer’s Camden Square home where she was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It would be inappropriate to speculate on the cause of death,” said police spokesman Superintendent Raj Kohli, stating that a prognosis at this point could cause further distress.
The cause of death as of yet remains ‘unexplained’ but, in spite of Superintendent Kohli’s statement, both history and circumstances point towards a drugs and drink.
“I would urge respect on behalf of the media and people who might be wishing well for the family,” he later added.
Four years ago I distinctly recall not listening to my university lecturer but rather debating Pete Doherty’s likely initiation into the macabre 27 club as his 28th birthday rapidly approached.
As I and a class mate discussed the immensely tragic but talented club, another was quick to add that an apathetic Doherty will trudge into insignificance, but it was Amy Winehouse that would end up in that unconverted position.
As praise and recollections from peers already pour in, it seems Amy will sit comfortably among legends such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, and like them she takes with her a fragment of irreplaceable talent.
Even following the phenomenal success of her second album, Back to Black, Winehouse showed serious signs of deterioration as her volatile and physical states seemed to increasingly imitate the dark record.
Drugs became her proverbial obstacle even preventing her from touching that pinnacle of success as she conquered the USA in 2008 with five Grammys she couldn’t receive due to visa restrictions.
She did, however, accept each award to a raucous crowd sitting across the pond and notably thanked her incarcerated fiancé Blake Fielder-Civil, the muse to Back to Black and a major contributor to her demise.
Later that year she appeared for both Nelson Mandela and at Glastonbury in the same weekend capping off a series of downhill performances with an assault on a fan.
Amy’s reputation superseded her talent as she was increasingly seen strutting ragged out of a club or just scrubbed enough for court rather than dominating the stage.
The talented Jewish girl from North London, who weaved her way in and out of stage schools, went from gifted starlet to a disastrous wreck in just five years – one for every Grammy.
A young Amy was picked up by Simon Fuller, signed to EMI and kept under wraps as their secret weapon before later being signed to Universal Music following a battle over the bombshell yet to explode.
Years later addiction, anorexia and heart-ache eventually took hold of the star and, following her break-up with Blake and several collapses on and off stage, her father Mitch moved her to the Caribbean away from scrutiny.
As snaps of her ‘recuperation’ were drip-fed back to Britain it was clear that the world might never have the privilege of hearing those soulful tones again.
The beehive, the make- up and the sparkle had gone and showed no signs of returning until just last month a rounder, healthier looking Amy re-appeared but to no avail.
Her last performance echoed the ones she became infamous for as she was booed off stage in Belgrade, resulting in the cancellation of her European comeback tour.
Despite only releasing two albums, Amy will hopefully be remembered, just like the 27 club members, as a pioneer. Her sultry voice and poignant songs re-captured and re-introduced to several generations a sound which hadn’t been heard since the 60s.
A void was left in the world of music when her death was announced yesterday, after all she pioneered a new generation of strong female vocalists such as Adele and Jessie J who, like her, have dominated the Brits, Mercurys, Novellos and Grammys, and rightly so.
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