x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Winehouse fans turn dead star's home into place of pilgrimage

Reports in the British tabloids yesterday said that Amy Winehouse had been on the streets of Camden on Friday buying a cocktail of cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine.

A women pays her respects in front of a painting of Amy Winehouse outside her house in North London yesterday, the day after the singer was found dead. Kerim Otken / EPA
A women pays her respects in front of a painting of Amy Winehouse outside her house in North London yesterday, the day after the singer was found dead. Kerim Otken / EPA

LONDON // Hundreds of fans embarked on a pilgrimage yesterday to the London home of Amy Winehouse, where the smoky-voiced soul singer was found dead on Saturday afternoon.

Although Britain's Sunday tabloids reported she had died of a drugs overdose, an autopsy will not be conducted on the 27-year-old until today.

Tributes to Winehouse, who won five Grammy awards but whose self-destructive impulses led her becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, poured in yesterday from singers, film stars and other celebrities.

Elton John called her "one of the greatest artists this country has ever produced". Carole King, whose song Will You Love Me Tomorrow? was covered by Winehouse, described her as a "wonderful talent".

"Such a beautiful singer - such a waste," said Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.

Police and two ambulances were called Saturday at about 4pm local time to the three-storey house in Camden, north London, that the singer had bought for £1.8 million just over a year ago.

She had not moved in to the four-bedroom house until the spring of this year after having the property renovated and a gym and recording studio installed.

Outside the house yesterday, which remained cordoned off by police, an increasing number of tributes had been laid, including alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, soft toys, flowers and candles.

Artwork was also left by fans, including a striking photo of Winehouse posing in a bar, and a picture by an artist called Mysterious Al, showing Winehouse's face with monochrome cartoon eyes and a white streak in her trademark beehive hair.

Among the notes left was one saying: "Too fragile, too beautiful, too big a talent for this world."

Reports in the British tabloids yesterday said that Winehouse, who had cancelled all her European tour dates last month after being booed off the stage in Serbia when she appeared too drunk to perform, had been on the streets of Camden on Friday buying a cocktail of cocaine, Ecstasy and ketamine, a hallucinogen.

She had recently completed her latest alcohol rehabilitation course in London but her mother, Janis, told the Sunday Mirror that she had seen her daughter on Friday and that she seemed "out of it".

Some neighbours were also quoted as saying that, during Friday night, they had heard howling coming from the house.

But John Lea, who lives nearby, said: "I'd see her occasionally, wandering around. She didn't go out much really. I didn't hear the noises on Friday night, although I was in.

"I didn't realise anything had happened until the ambulances and police turned up, and I saw two women outside who were very, very upset."

As well as flocking to her house, fans also thronged to the nearby Hawley Arms pub, once a favourite haunt of the pop star.

In a statement, Doug Charles-Ridler, the pub's co-owner, said: "We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Amy's death.

"Apart from her extraordinary musical talent, she was a special person with a good soul and this should not have happened. We feel privileged to have known her and we will sorely miss her."

Winehouse has joined a clutch of other singers who have died at ther age of 27 including the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Doors' Jim Morrison and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

One immediate effect of her death has been a sudden surge in sales of her records, with her acclaimed second album, Back to Black, re-entering the British charts last night almost five years after its release.

The Mark Ronson-produced LP made it to number 59 in the few hours between the singer's death being announced and the sales being counted, the Official Charts Company said.

Fans also rushed to buy the singles from the 2006 album, with two of them, including Rehab, re-entering the singles chart.

Martin Talbot, director of the Official Charts Company, said: "Already the popularity of Amy's music with the British public is being demonstrated, with sales of her albums rocketing by 37 times over the past 24 hours.

"While Amy has already had an impact on the charts, we would expect an even bigger impact to roll through over the coming days."