Amy Winehouse, who died almost a year ago at 27, is remembered by her fans as a great artist and a tragic figure. Now comes a memoir from her father, Mitch Winehouse, who, while not shying away from her drug and alcohol abuse, reveals the happier and less public aspects of Winehouse’s short life. From the inspiration for her hit song “Rehab” to her ambitions to open a chain of burger joints, here are some highlights from Amy, My Daughter.
Amy Winehouse's parents discuss their daughter's struggle with drugs and alcohol.
1. Amy Bombed Her First Audition
Amy Winehouse’s first audition was for the musical Annie when she was 10 years old. When the audition pianist moved her song up several keys and she bombed the audition, her grandmother went right up to the director and began screaming that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Needless to say, she didn’t get the role. (pp. 15-17)
2. Amy Dreamed of Opening Retro Diners
She loved roller-skating, ice-skating, and biking. After her first album came out she said she wanted to open a chain of diners featuring waitresses on wheels. (p. 18)
3. Amy Decorated Her First Demo
Winehouse landed her first management contract at 17. The demo tape she sent in was in a bag she had covered with stickers of hearts and stars.
4. Amy Took a Dive in a Dumpster
When she refused to go to an important meeting about her new publishing contract, her manager threatened to put her in a dumpster unless she agreed to go. She wouldn’t, and into the dumpster she went, her manager refusing to let her out unless she agreed to go with him. She was late, but she made it to the meeting. (pp. 35-36)
5. Amy’s Dad Really Did Think ‘I’m Fine’
The line from “Rehab” where Winehouse sings, “My daddy thinks I’m fine,” came directly from her life. After her first alcohol-related hospital stay—after falling and hitting her head, her father and managers were discussing her increasing problems with alcohol. Her father claimed that she was fine and had simply had one too many drinks. (p. 53)
6. Amy Planned a Jewish Album
Winehouse wanted to release a Jewish-holiday album in the style of Christmas albums from the 1960s. Possible song titles included “Heart of Coal,” “Alone Under the Mistletoe,” and “Two Jews and a Christmas Tree.” (p. 74)
7. Amy Was Invited to Bruce Willis’s Party
On her second trip to the U.S., she met many of her American celebrity fans, including Courtney Love, porn star Ron Jeremy, Danny DeVito, Michael Bublé, and an allegedly tipsy Bruce Willis—who met her and immediately invited her to his birthday party. (pp. 80-81)
8. Amy’s Husband Liked ‘Being a Drug Addict’
When Winehouse and her husband Blake Fielder-Civil were sent to a rehab center in 2008, her husband revealed to her father that he had no intention of actually being rehabilitated, saying, “I like being a drug addict.” They returned from the center just three days later. (p. 89)
9. Amy Had Drugs Delivered to Rehab
She attempted to stop doing drugs multiple times between meeting Fielder-Civil in 2006 and getting clean in 2008 but repeatedly relapsed. She once even had them delivered to her while she was in the hospital during a recovery program. (p. 173)
10. Amy’s Foundation Aids Rehab Centers
The Amy Winehouse Foundation, established after her death and partially funded by revenue from her music, donates to a variety of missions, among them underfunded children’s music programs and affordable rehab centers for young people trying to get clean. (pp. 297-301)