Fans snap up Winehouse albums after singer’s death

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Fans rushed to download Amy Winehouse’s two albums
after the beehive-haired British soul singer became the latest in a
grim tally of rock stars to die at the seemingly cursed age of 27.

Winehouse, found dead at her London home Saturday,
occupied top slot on the iTunes UK download chart 24 hours later with
“Back to Black,” the 2006 album that won five Grammy awards in the
United States and turned the troubled north London girl into an
international star.

Police say it is too early to speculate on how
Winehouse died and a post mortem will not be conducted before Monday
morning, but Winehouse’s struggle with alcohol and drug addiction were
well documented.

Her best known song, the booming “Rehab,” from “Back to Black” bore witness to her doomed struggle to get clean.

Other members of what has been dubbed the “Forever 27″
club include Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison,
who died at that age in different circumstances after chaotic lifestyles
associated with a rock’n'roll career.

In many cases their posthumous fame has surpassed the
success they enjoyed in their career, with their recordings still
selling and enjoyed by a new audience.

That appeared to be the case for Winehouse, one of the
most talented singers of her generation who leaves only a slim set of
recordings showcasing her talent.

“Back to Black,” knocked fellow female British vocalist Adele’s “21″ off top spot on the iTunes chart.

Winehouse, who was on the Universal Music label, also
occupied third spot, with a package comprising “Back to Black” and her
2003 debut “Frank,” while a “Deluxe Edition” of “Back to Black” was
number four.

Her death came too late to influence the top 40 chart
of downloads and disc sales released by the Official Charts company
Sunday afternoon, but she is likely to top the list next week.

Sales of Winehouse’s albums increased by 37 times
between Friday and Saturday, with track sales up by 23 times, the
Official Charts Company said.

“We would expect an even bigger impact to roll through
over the coming days,” said Official Charts managing director Martin
Talbot.

The sales surge mirrors the 2009 example of Michael Jackson whose songs leapt to the top of the charts after his death.

Jackson’s estate is estimated to have generated more
than $310 million from album sales and spin-offs since the “Thriller”
singer died two years ago.

Painful decline

Winehouse slid from being a chirpy teenage singer from a
north London Jewish family to someone who could barely walk at her
final concert performance in Serbia.

“Before she became famous, it wasn’t merely that she
didn’t use hard drugs, she was against hard drugs,” biographer Chas
Newkey-Burden told Sky News. “She would get up and walk out of the room
in disgust if someone even mentioned taking coke or something.”

Winehouse won critical acclaim after the release of her
debut album “Frank” in 2003 before becoming a worldwide phenomenon with
the success of “Back to Black.”

“It was between the two albums that she went off the
rails, partly in reaction against the fame. And I think she was quite
scared of her talent,” Newkey-Burden added.

Broadcaster and radio DJ Paul Gambaccini said he had
witnessed her decline over the years he hosted the music industry’s Ivor
Novello song writing awards.

“When she began attending she was a fresh-faced, shy
young woman … the next year she was a bit wobbly. The last time she
was there she didn’t come in until the ceremony was two-thirds over and
her award had already been accepted by her dad,” Gambaccini told BBC
television.

Winehouse was a victim of “tremendous fame and money,”
Gambaccini said. “Although your bank balance goes up, the tolerance of
your body does not. And that is why although she could afford more
substances to put inside her, her body could not accept them.”

Winehouse had been regularly recording but had not released a new album since “Back to Black.”

Her spokesman said it was unclear what use would be
made of the recordings. But a posthumous album would seem inevitable
given her huge popularity.

“She constantly wrote music, that’s what she did. There are lots of demos knocking around and all sorts,” the spokesman said.


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