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The Death of a True Musician: Amy Winehouse Dies Aged 27

30th July 2011

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Amy Winehouse. Genius, Addict or Tortured Soul?

Regardless of her label, her death on Saturday, July 23 2011, surprised few, but saddened many. Worldwide, Amy Winehouse was considered a genius in the world of music, yet her untimely death, despite its predictability, was still a great shock to the music world. At just the young age of 27, Winehouse was found dead at approximately 3:45pm at her Camden home in London.  Winehouse had joined the epitomic ‘27 Club’ also known as Forever 21, a club signifying the deaths of musicians and well-known artists who died at the age of 27. Members include, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin. The common link between all members was not only were they musicians affected by drugs and/or alcohol, but the fact that their young lives were taken far too soon.

Winehouse, who reportedly started to become involved with drugs and alcohol at the age of 21, seemed unable to save herself, despite desperate pleas and ongoing attempts to help her by her close family and friends. Her reportedly four stints in rehab, all known to be mainly unsuccessful will now always beg the question: Could Amy Winehouse have been saved? Or was it too late for the singer?

Her success began with her debut album, ‘FRANK’ released in 2003. The album was critically acclaimed, with many critics impressed by WInehouse’s youAmy Winehouse - Naturalng age and her clear adoration for jazz music. Her music enabled jazz to be appreciated by the young and Winehouse made the genre of jazz effortlessly cool and modern. ‘FRANK’ was nominated for the album of the year at the Mercury Music Prize; whilst Winehouse later went on to win the widely-respected Ivor Novello song-writing award for best contemporary song, ‘Stronger than Me.’ However, it was WInehouse’s second studio album, ‘Back to Black’ that propelled her into stardom, and regrettably enabled her downfall through drugs and alcohol addiction. Released in 2006, her second album pushed her into the public eye at a fast rate, yet as her popularity grew, her health greatly deteriorated. It seemed the pressure of stardom and celebrity had caused Winehouse to spiral out of control mainly through addiction and self-harm. Her single, ‘Rehab’ which went to number one in 2007, chronicled her substance abuse issues and her refusal to receive help or treatment, despite desperate pleas from family and close friends.

In 2007, she married Blake Fielder-Civil, her on-off again boyfriend to which ‘Back to Black’ chronicled their unstable and chaotic relationship. According to reports, it had been widely assumed her relationship with Fielder-Civil has snow-balled her addiction to both drugs and alcohol. Many onlookers and close friends of the singer described the couple’s relationship as, ‘intense, yet turbulent,’ with it appearing to be that they could neither live with each other, nor live without each other. The couple’s divorce, finalised on the July 16 2009, gave hope to many people wanting Amy to live a sober and clean life, yet it appeared even her divorce from  Fielder-Civil did nothing to help her spiral of decline. In early 2011, a shock to WInehouse’s fans, it was announced she would be appearing in her upcoming European tour, to which many critics stating that this would be her chance at a comeback and to win back those that doubted her. However, her debut gig in Serbia, filmed via amateur footage, showed the audience jeering at her, whilst it appeared Amy was drunk and unstable, mumbling words and leaving the stage for periods of time throughout the 90-minute performance. This was the last the world saw of Amy.

Despite a tragic loss, for both Winehouse’s family, friends, fans and jazz music as a whole, her death highlights the dangers of drink and drugs and has raised awareness towards those that have substance abuse problems. Regardless of her passing, her music will live on. Even though she had been ignored in the past, and her music recently acknowledged and purchased after her death, when it was previously just as good of an album, she will always be known as the one who died young, yet had so much more to give.

Rest in Peace Amy.


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