Obit

07.23.11

Winehouse's Troubled Life

Found dead in her London apartment Saturday, Grammy-winning retro-soul singer Amy Winehouse lived a brief, tragic 27 years. Chris Lee reports.

As a tragic coda to a brief life and turbulent run atop the pop-music firmament, Grammy-winning retro-soul chanteuse Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London flat Saturday afternoon, according to the U.K. Press Association. She was 27.

Her label, Universal Republic, released the following statement: "We are deeply saddened at the sudden loss of such a gifted musician, artist and performer. Our prayers go out to Amy's family, friends and fans at this difficult time."

The dusky-voiced singer responsible for the international smash single “Rehab” had a lengthy history with alcohol and drug abuse, although initial police reports do not indicate that an overdose caused her death.

According to a Metropolitan Police press announcement that doesn’t specifically name Winehouse:

“Police were called by London Ambulance Service to an address in Camden Square NW1 shortly before 16:05hrs today, Saturday 23 July following reports of a woman found deceased.

On arrival, officers found the body of a 27-year old female who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Inquiries continue into the circumstances of the death. At this early stage it is being treated as unexplained.”

In June, Winehouse canceled her European tour after a calamitous performance in Belgrade, Serbia, during which she babbled incoherently and seemed to forget the lyrics to her songs.

In 2008, the extravagantly coiffed performer—famous for her sleeves of tattoos and towering beehive hairdo—celebrated a breakthrough year, collecting a raft of Grammys including record of the year and song of the year for her hit “Rehab”; Winehouse’s sophomore album Back to Black was awarded album of the year and best pop vocal album.

But on a personal front, her volatile marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil took a heavy toll on Winehouse’s career. After two years of drug busts and public meltdowns, the couple divorced in 2009. And Winehouse never managed to right her career and never released another album.

Thanks to her legendarily hard-partying ways, Winehouse’s ex-husband, mother, and father went to the press as far back as 2007 to vent in public their fear for her death. In a bitterly ironic upending of her signature song—with its chorus, “They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'."  Winehouse made repeated visits to rehabilitation clinics over the years, checking in to London’s famed Priory Clinic in late May. 

“The saddest part is, it’s not a surprise,” veteran Grammy Awards broadcast producer Ken Ehrlich commented on Winehouse's passing. “She was definitely troubled.”

On Saturday evening, a group of fans, onlookers, and paparazzi gathered in front of the singer's Camden Square apartment, which had been cordoned off from the public by police tape while a forensic team continued its investigation.

"Every time something happens, the air is filled with the sound of camera shutters," tweeted @FoxyCoxy, who was on the scene. "All very surreal."