It’s been ten years since the tragic death of Grammy-winning singer Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011 at the age of 27. Here’s a look back on her brief but impactful career.
Born to a Jewish family in London, Amy was influenced by jazz greats like Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington, and started writing music in her teens. In 2000, she was signed to a contract by 19 Management, owned by American Idol creator Simon Fuller.
After being signed to Island Records, Amy released her debut album, 2003’s Frank, to rave reviews. Soon, she was headlining major festivals and winning prestigious awards.
Her second album, Back to Black — inspired by the girl-group sound of the ‘50s and ‘60s and produced by Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi — was released in October 2006. It became the best-selling album of 2007 in the U.K., while her single “Rehab” was a top 10 hit in the U.K. and U.S. Amy’s beehive, tattoos and winged eyeliner made her an instantly recognizable pop culture figure.
Global superstardom followed, and in 2008, Amy and Back to Black won five Grammy Awards in a single night. However, she had to accept via satellite because she’d failed a drug test and wasn’t allowed to enter the U.S.
Amy, who’d been hospitalized for an overdose at least once, continued to struggle with substance abuse, which affected her live performances and caused erratic behavior — she was arrested several times for assault. She was also likely suffering from an untreated mental illness, having previously admitted to battling self-harm, depression and an eating disorder.
After a stint in rehab, Amy apparently stopped doing drugs, but then turned to alcohol. Her live shows continued to suffer, and in 2011, her European tour was cut short due to her troubles. She gave her final performance July 20, 2011 in London, appearing as a surprise guest at her goddaughter’s concert. She died three days later.
After her death, her parents established the Amy Winehouse Foundation to help young people with drug and alcohol problems. A statue was erected in her honor, and she inspired a number of books and several documentaries, including one that won an Oscar. She’s also been the subject of various museum exhibits, with a biopic and a musical reportedly in the works.
Now a bona fide icon, just a few of the singers who’ve cited Amy as an influence include Adele, Lady Gaga, Alessia Cara, Lana Del Rey, Billie Eilish, Jessie J, Halsey, Sam Smith and Bruno Mars.
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