Amy Winehouse’s Dad marked five years since her death with a jazz concert raising money for the foundation set up in her memory. Mitch Winehouse performed his daughter’s favourite songs at the Pizza Express Jazz Club on Sunday in aid of the Amy Winehouse Foundation. The 27-year-old musician died of alcohol poisoning at her home in Camden, north London, on July 23 2011. She had publicly battled drink and drugs for years before her death.
Amy Winehouse was found unconscious and without a pulse in her Camden Square house at around 3pm. Emergency services and the police were called, but the multi-award-winning singer was declared dead at the scene. An inquest confirmed that the British singer-songwriter died of alcohol poisoning. her brother Alex said he believes it was bulimia that led to her death. “Drink and drugs took their toll, but the eating disorder fatally weakened her,” he told Observer Magazine. “She would have died eventually, the way she was going, but what really killed her was the bulimia.”
In our image-saturated culture, where we sit drooling at our computer screens hungry for the latest bit of celebrity gossip, it’s no wonder that we are all fascinated by the Amy Winehouse story. The story of the Diva and her Demons continues to fascinate but we must resist the temptation to do what the Paps did to her in real life for in reality there is nothing glamorous about the deadly mix of drink, drugs and bulimia which compromised her talent and tragically shortened her life.
There seems to be a strong link between eating disorders and alcoholism, as 37.5% of people with bulimia reported excessive alcohol use, and 26.8% reported alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. Shona Wilkinson, Head Nutritionist at nutricentre.com, also said that “the combination of bulimia nervosa and alcoholism is a growing problem. People who have bulimia may believe that being sick can help them to stay sober and they can therefore continue to drink more. This isn’t actually true. Alcohol can go through the body incredibly quickly especially if you haven’t eaten (or eaten and been sick). As there is no food to slow down digestion, alcohol absorption is increased and people can become intoxicated quicker. The worry is that this puts people in the dangerous situation of being incredibly drunk and not in control.”
Winehouse had won widespread acclaim, aged 20, with her 2003 debut album, Frank. But it was 2006’s Back to Black which brought her worldwide stardom, winning five Grammy Awards. The troubled singer made her last public appearance on the Wednesday night before her death when she joined her goddaughter Dionne Bromfield on stage at The Roundhouse in Camden. The singer danced with Bromfield and encouraged the audience to buy her album in the impromptu appearance before leaving the stage. The troubled singer had a long battle with drink and drugs which overshadowed her recent musical career. She pulled out of a comeback tour the previous month.
— E! News (@enews) July 23, 2016
Since her death Amy Winehouse was honoured with a life-sized statue unveiled by her parents on Sunday, Sept. 14th. 2015 on what would have been her 31st birthday in Camden Town, her neighbourhood in north London. Quite what Amy would have made of the charcoal-grey statue, apparently designed in her likeness by sculptor Scott Eaton and topped with a red rose, we’ll never know. Her father Mitch and her mum Janis led the ceremony for her in Camden Town—a place Mitch says she was “in love with.” He spoke about his emotional response to the sculpture:
“It is incredibly emotional to see Amy immortalised like this, but [sculptor Scott Eaton] has done an amazing job in capturing her. It is like stopping her in a beautiful moment in time. The Winehouse family are very grateful to Scott and we really hope Amy’s fans love the statue. We want to remind everyone of her talent and that her legacy, through her music and the Amy Winehouse Foundation, carries on.” Mitch added that he plans to visit the statue at the Stables Market, Camden from time to time, saying, “It was difficult to see the sculpture at first but I’m getting used to it. It looks just beautiful.”
I bumped into Amy when visiting in the London Clinic, Harley Street, the previous December before she died. She looked so much better as if she was really on the mend. Her drug use had given her chronic emphysema and I was told by the staff that she was being treated for emphysema. Since her death there has been an inquest and we now know this was a cover story, she used to go into the London Clinic regularly to be treated for the effects of cocaine addiction.
Having famously sung about saying “No! No! No! to Rehab” her management probably felt that it would attract too much tabloid coverage if she actually went into a rehab clinic and this would give her more privacy and full hospital care. Others have made this point but that night when I met Amy it struck me how small and waif like she was. No doubt she had her demons and the compulsive behaviour which led her into addiction to drink & drugs has been well documented elsewhere. She has been relentlessly pursued by a wolverine and amoral Tabloid industry looking for the latest Winehouse “money shot” and had both to move house and get a court order because of harassment by the Paparazzi.
See: Paparazzi Insight
The girl I exchanged a hesitant greeting and small talk with in the cloistered sanctuary of a London hospital that night was a frail, damaged, perceptive and hugely gifted individual whose music and not her lifestyle will be her real and enduring legacy. She used to be “hidden” in a corner room on the top floor with her security guy outside the door, even in these protected surroundings there was no question of a “normal life.” I felt her death more poignantly for on another visit to the London Clinic I chatted to her security guy and he was the person who later found her dead from an overdose in the bedroom of her house in Camden Square, London.
Whilst we both exchanged a nervous “hi” the nurses on duty told me Amy always came down to them when visitors were gone and patients were asleep for a good old natter. She was there again when I was visiting in the Clinic some six months later. Close up she came across as frail and I wouldn’t have compromised her privacy but I mention it now to emphasise Amy’s underlying health was poor. As always we should remember addiction is a disease, not a choice. She was a great talent whose resonant songs sprung from the trials of her existence and this was a terrible waste of a talented young life. Next time I’m in Camden I’ll seek out her statue in The Stables Market and exchange another hesitant “Hi” with a frail girl with a great talent and much more to give who went too soon.
Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011)