British soul singer Amy Winehouse died in her London apartment on Saturday of yet-unexplained causes, according to British police. The singer, whose battle with substance abuse was well documented, perhaps best by her own song, “Rehab,” was 27 years old.
The news, like the sudden death of any young person, came as a shock —and not as a shock.
She had been working on staging a comeback, but recent concert performances had been lackluster, with the singer frequently appearing too intoxicated to complete the songs that she had written that earned her five Grammys in 2008.
Anyone who saw the YouTube footage of a June concert in Belgrade knew she was ill — she canceled her European tour directly after. Before Saturday, that clip was a funny train wreck. Now it looks like a cry for help.
Winehouse had only released two discs of music, her last and most famous, “Back to Black,” in 2006. But although her quantity was minimal, the quality was so outstanding and revealing that it may have been all she could give. She lived her life like the lyrics she wrote: her misery, heartache and self-destructive urges all spoke to a pain that connected to listeners around the world. She told us she was trouble. But we never believed her when she said she was no good. Here we look at the highs and lows of her all-too-short life.
Sept. 14, 1983
Amy Jade Winehouse is born in Southgate, London, to jazz-loving, Jewish parents.
She forms the rap group Sweet ’n’ Sour at age 10.
1993 through her teens
Winehouse goes to school, including the Sylvia Young Theatre School, which has an emphasis on performing arts. She claims she was expelled at 14, although Young disagrees and has called her “one of the greatest” despite being “disruptive in class.”
Winehouse’s boyfriend, singer Tyler James, sends in her demo tape. She signs with Simon Fuller, music producer and “American Idol” creator.
Her major label debut, “Frank,” is a critical darling, nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize, and it becomes a hit in the U.K. — though it never fully crosses over in America.
“Back to Black,” her old-school R&B collaboration with music producer Mark Ronson, features hits “You Know I’m No Good” and “Rehab.” This — along with her beehive hairdo — makes her an international megastar. Metro photographer Nathan Fried-Lipski captures her on the streets of Boston on the day of her show on this landmark tour.
With five awards, she wins the most Grammys ever by a female British act, nabbing awards for Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. She is seen here hugging her mother, Janis Winehouse, after receiving the Record of the Year award.
5. 2008 and on
It’s all a blur. Despite cutting some tracks and scattered live appearances, Winehouse is more frequently seen stumbling out of nightclubs or off a stage. This photo is from her last show ever at Kalemegdan Park on June 18 in Belgrade, Serbia.
6. July 23, 2011
Winehouse is pronounced dead by British police. With an autopsy scheduled for today, the cause of death is currently unknown, although an overdose is suspected. Here, a fan lights vigil candles outside her home in London.
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