x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Amy Winehouse found dead in London flat

Multiple Grammy award-winning soul singer who battled drug and alcohol problems found dead at 27.

Amy Winehouse performs at the Riverside Studios for the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony via video link in London, England.
Amy Winehouse performs at the Riverside Studios for the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony via video link in London, England.

Amy Winehouse, the multiple Grammy award-winning soul singer who battled alcohol and drug problems, was found dead at her flat in north London yesterday. She was 27.

Her death is being treated as unexplained, Scotland Yard said.

Winehouse rocketed to fame after winning five Grammy awards off the back of her 2006 second album Back to Black and the hit single Rehab, which chronicled her addiction demons.

Winehouse's debut album Frank was released in 2003 and brought her wide acclaim. The follow-up, Back to Black, was a worldwide hit, reaching number one in Britain and number two in the US charts.

But her drug and alcohol addictions thwarted her stardom and strained the loyalty of her fans.

Concert-goers to Winehouse's February performance at Dubai Festival City described it as a "car crash" as she forgot lyrics and disappeared from the stage for 10 minutes during her set.

Her singing drew comparisons to Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, and current singers Macy Gray and Lauryn Hill.

Many singers who followed her, such as Kate Nash, Lily Allen and Duffy, were called "the new Amy Winehouse".

"This is the best female vocalist I've heard in my entire career," the singer George Michael said of Winehouse in a 2007 BBC interview. "And one of the best writers. She's a fantastic talent and we should support her."

She spent a week at an addiction treatment clinic in London in the run-up to her return to live performances this year, reportedly at the suggestion of her father over concerns that she was drinking too much before her shows.

Winehouse had been diagnosed with early-stage emphysema. Her father said her lungs were only at 70 per cent of capacity because of cigarettes and crack cocaine. He said if she continued smoking, the condition would become fatal.

At her Dubai concert, her backup singers had to cover for her over three songs when she left the stage.

Christina Smith, 31, a teacher from Liverpool, said after the performance:: "She would look around as if saying, 'Oh … I forgot my words'. She was like a little girl singing along to herself.

"At some point she pointed her finger to her head as if saying, 'shoot me now'. It was a car crash."

Winehouse later pulled out of her European tour after a disastrous opening performance in Serbia on June 18.

About 20,000 people gathered for the highly promoted concert at the 6th century Kalemegdan fortress, but many soon left.

During the concert, which lasted about 90 minutes, Winehouse could only mumble some of the lyrics and failed to follow her band.

Amy Jade Winehouse was born in London on September 14, 1983, to a taxi driver father, Mitch, and pharmacy technician mother, Janis. She grew up in Southgate, north London.

Her Jewish family played records by singers such as Dinah Washington and Frank Sinatra. The young Amy also liked hip-hop and started writing songs at age 14, going to the Sylvia Young Theatre School. She was expelled at 16 for piercing her nose.

Winehouse's musician friend Tyler James passed her demo tape to Universal, which was offering a contract for a jazz vocalist and snapped her up.

Winehouse married Blake Fielder-Civil in Miami in May 2007. He spent part of their marriage behind bars for a vicious attack on a pub landlord and a subsequent attempt to cover it up.

They divorced in July 2009.

* With reporting by Haneen Dajani, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News and Associated Press