RIP: Amy Winehouse

Posted July 25, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in HiDef

Talented, but troubled UK blues-R&B singer dies at the age of 27

Amy Winehouse, the Grammy-award winning voice that singlehandedly sparked the movement of retro soul revival and is best known for her unexpected hit song “Rehab” and the life that quickly patterned it, passed away at the age of 27.

According to the UK Associated Press, authorities found the 27-year old singer dead in her home in Camden Square in northern London. Police reports could not confirm what the cause of death was but admitted she was dead at the scene before paramedics arrived.

She also joins a league of music royalty who passed away before their prime at the tender young age of 27, best known mythically as the “27 Club.” Rock legends Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were all 27 when they were found dead. Celebrated Nirvana guitarist Kurt Cobian committed suicide at the age of 27.

Back To Black, her second album, received international acclaim from critics and music lovers; opening up the floodgates for a rebirth of bluesy retro soul. UK acts like Duffy and Adele immediately followed, while Raphael Saadiq, Cee Lo Green and most recently Bruno Mars traveled similar successful paths. The album, sporting Mark Ronson’s nostaglic production and a regenerated fiber of the blues and ’60’s R&B, appealed to the masses, selling over ten million copies worldwide. Back To Black earned the fairly new star a handful of Grammy trophies (five in total) in 2008. Although she was not present to bask in the glory of the evening, Winehouse appeared thankful as she accepted the honors via satellite. She was a wild card, a stark shift from the everyday pop music machine. At the core of her image was a look that most labels would have turned down in a heartbeat: her now-infamous beehive hairstyle, the overload of body ink, exagerated eyeliner, her unusually pale skin and pencil-thin frame. But her bluesy lifestyle fit the troubled image of Amy Winehouse’ music, as if she earned a spiritual inheritance from blues legend Billie Holiday. As popular as her music and superstardom was, the poor choices from her personal life appeared like a supernova. Her ongoing fight with substance abuse usually overshadowed her celebrity and artistry. Sometimes she had the upper hand, as she voulntarily entered in and out of rehab throughout her career. Most recently in June, Winehouse was pulled from her 2011 comeback tour with the help of her management after performing irresponsibly in Belgrade, Serbia, appearing drunk while stumbling over lyrics. That painful performance scorned with heavy boos from the crowd and now viewed by countless millions on YouTube, was her last public performance.

Chris Richards wrote a heartbreaking tribute in The Washington Post, perfectly capturing the heartbreaking loss of a talented and very troubled soul. He wrote: “I flipped on Washington’s Hot 99.5 shortly after the news broke, expecting “Rehab” or “You Know I’m No Good” or “Tears Dry on Their Own” to come pouring through the speakers. Instead, it was the Band Perry’s country-pop hit “If I Die Young.”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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