British singing sensation Amy Winehouse died on July 23rd, 2011. A sad ending to the tortured young woman's life and brilliant career. At just 27, the timing made her a member of a most ghastly and infamous club - that of famous rock stars to have died at the very same age. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Curt Cobain, & Brian Jones all left the planet in their prime and at the not so tender (to say the least) age of 27.
Winehouse burst onto the music scene in 2007 with the release of her second album- Back To Black. Her voice was instantly recognizable - smoky and sultry- it made anyone who heard it stop and listen. The sound, a hypnotic mix of Blues & R&B, with a slice of Ska Soul was a breath of fresh air in a music scene filled with Pop-tart formula sounds. Winehouse was somehow the female cross between Billy Holiday & Buddy Holly.
Then there was her style. Winehouse's image would catapult her to a level of fame that few artists achieve. Her outrageous fashion sense - a throwback to the 60's with her bumped bee-hive hair would put her in every magazine and tabloid around the world. It also influenced designers, stylists, & fans across all genres of music, fashion, and pop culture. From the Court Jester of Reality TV, MTV's Snooki, to the King of the Fashion world himself - Karl Lagerfeld - all were influenced by Amy's style.
Sadly, as fast as she became famous, Amy got snared in the web of drug and alcohol abuse that would plague her life for the next 4 years. Unfortunately, the world seemed to tire of images of Winehouse making a spectacle of herself night after night all around London. Some would say that the harsh tabloid environment in the U.K. fueled her outbursts and helped ruin her image, but I would argue that Winehouse made herself too easy a target. Stumbling around London visibly drunk and high in bloodied ballerina shoes was a desperate cry for help. As any celebrity knows in this day and age of iphone videos creating news (ie. John Galliano's antisemitic rants in Paris), one has to be smarter about their public behavior, especially those living in the United Kingdom.
The truth is that the reason Winehouse lost her shine was quite simple. Her drug and alcohol problem got in the way of her work. Just like millions of other people who use drugs, it takes over your life and ruins it. Regardless if you are a world famous singer, a single mother working the night shift, or a white collar businessman. Drugs kill.
Add to this the timing in the music industry when powerhouse voices like Duffy and Adele were releasing incredible albums loaded with explosive singles. Winehouse's follow up to Back to Black just didn't materialize. Music fans and the music industry started to move on. Sadly, Amy was booed off the stage in her last public performance in Belgrade at the end of June. Her next album that remains unfinished is said to be released later this year.
Music fans will never forget Amy Winehouse, it is just so sad we didn't have more to remember her by.
To listen to her greatest work click - Amy Winehouse - Back to Black.