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Thread: Singer Amy Winehouse Dies at 27

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    Default Singer Amy Winehouse Dies at 27




    (LONDON) — Amy Winehouse, the beehived soul-jazz diva whose self-destructive habits overshadowed a distinctive musical talent, was found dead Saturday in her London home, police said. She was 27.

    Winehouse shot to fame with the album "Back to Black," whose blend of jazz, soul, rock and classic pop was a global hit. It won five Grammys and made Winehouse — with her black beehive hairdo and old-fashioned sailor tattoos — one of music's most recognizable stars.

    Police confirmed that a 27-year-old female was pronounced dead at the home in Camden Square northern London; the cause of death was not immediately known. London Ambulance Services said Winehouse had died before the two ambulance crews it sent arrived at the scene.




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    An ambulance could be seen parked beneath the trees outside her London home, and the whole street was cordoned off by police tape. Officers kept onlookers away from the scene.

    Last month, Winehouse canceled her European comeback tour after she swayed and slurred her way through barely recognizable songs in her first show in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Booed and jeered off stage, she flew home and her management said she would take time off to recover. "I didn't go out looking to be famous," Winehouse told the Associated Press when "Back to Black" was released. "I'm just a musician."

    But in the end, the music was overshadowed by fame, and by Winehouse's demons. Tabloids lapped up the erratic stage appearances, drunken fights, stints in hospital and rehab clinics. Performances became shambling, stumbling train wrecks, watched around the world on the Internet.

    Born in 1983 to taxi driver Mitch Winehouse and his pharmacist wife Janis, Winehouse grew up in the north London suburbs, and was set on a showbiz career from an early age. When she was 10, she and a friend formed a rap group, Sweet 'n' Sour — Winehouse was Sour — that she later described as "the little white Jewish Salt 'n' Pepa."




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    She attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School, a factory for British music and acting moppets, later went to the Brit School, a performing arts academy in the "Fame" mold, and was originally signed to "Pop Idol" svengali Simon Fuller's 19 Management.

    But Winehouse was never a packaged teen star, and always resisted being pigeonholed. Her jazz-influenced 2003 debut album, "Frank," was critically praised and sold well in Britain. It earned Winehouse an Ivor Novello songwriting award, two Brit nominations and a spot on the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize.

    But Winehouse soon expressed dissatisfaction with the disc, saying she was "only 80 percent behind" the album. "Frank" was followed by a slump during which Winehouse broke up with her boyfriend, suffered a long period of writer's block and, she later said, smoked a lot of marijuana. "I had writer's block for so long," she said in 2007. "And as a writer, your self-worth is literally based on the last thing you wrote. .. I used to think, 'What happened to me?' "At one point it had been two years since the last record and (the record company) actually said to me, 'Do you even want to make another record?' I was like, 'I swear it's coming.' I said to them, 'Once I start writing I will write and write and write. But I just have to start it.'"




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    The album she eventually produced was a sensation. Released in Britain in the fall of 2006, "Back to Black" brought Winehouse global fame. Working with producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi and soul-funk group the Dap-Kings, Winehouse fused soul, jazz, doo-wop and, above all, a love of the girl-groups of the early 1960s with lyrical tales of romantic obsession and emotional excess. "Back to Black" was released in the United States in March 2007 and went on to win five Grammy awards, including song and record of the year for "Rehab."

    Music critic John Aizlewood attributed her trans-Atlantic success to a fantastic voice and a genuinely original sound. "A lot of British bands fail in America because they give America something Americans do better — that's why most British hip-hop has failed," he said. "But they won't have come across anything quite like Amy Winehouse."

    Winehouse's rise was helped by her distinctive look — black beehive of hair, thickly lined cat eyes, girly tattoos — and her tart tongue.

    She was famously blunt in her assessment of her peers, once describing Dido's sound as "background music — the background to death" and saying of pop princess Kylie Minogue, "she's not an artist ... she's a pony."

    The songs on "Black to Black" detailed breakups and breakdowns with a similar frankness. Lyrically, as in life, Winehouse wore her heart on her sleeve. "I listen to a lot of '60s music, but society is different now," Winehouse said in 2007. "I'm a young woman and I'm going to write about what I know."




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    Even then, Winehouse's performances were sometimes shambolic, and she admitted she is "a terrible drunk."

    Increasingly, her personal life began to overshadow her career.

    She acknowledged struggling with eating disorders and told a newspaper that she had been diagnosed as manic depressive but refused to take medication. Soon accounts of her erratic behavior, canceled concerts and drink- and drug-fueled nights began to multiply.

    Photographs caught her unsteady on her feet or vacant-eyed, and she appeared unhealthily thin, with scabs on her face and marks on her arms.

    There were embarrassing videos released to the world on the Internet. One showed an addled Winehouse and Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty playing with newborn mice. Another, for which Winehouse apologized, showed her singing a racist ditty to the tune of a children's song.

    Winehouse's managers went to increasingly desperate lengths to keep the wayward star on the straight and narrow.

    Though she was often reported to be working on new material, fans got tired of waiting for the much-promised followup to "Back to Black."

    Occasional bits of recording saw the light of day. Her rendition of The Zutons' "Valerie" was a highlight of producer Mark Ronson's 2007 album "Version," and she recorded the pop classic "It's My Party" for the 2010 Quincy Jones album "Q: Soul Bossa Nostra." But other recording projects with Ronson, one of the architects of the success of "Back to Black," came to nothing.

    She also had run-ins with the law. In April 2008, Winehouse was cautioned by police for assault after she slapped a man during a raucous night out.



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    The same year she was investigated by police, although not charged, after a tabloid newspaper published a video that appeared to show her smoking crack cocaine.

    In 2010, Winehouse pleaded guilty to assaulting a theater manager who asked her to leave a family Christmas show because she'd had too much to drink. She was given a fine and a warning to stay out of trouble by a judge who praised her for trying to clean up her act.

    In May 2007 in Miami, she married music industry hanger-on Blake Fielder-Civil, but the honeymoon was brief. That November, Fielder-Civil was arrested for an attack on a pub manager the year before. Fielder-Civil later pleaded guilty to assaulting barman James King and then offering him 200,000 pounds (US$400,000) to keep quiet about it.

    Winehouse stood by "my Blake" throughout his trial, often blowing kisses at him from the court's public gallery and wearing a heart-shaped pin labeled "Blake" in her hair at concerts. But British newspapers reported extramarital affairs while Fielder-Civil was behind bars.

    They divorced in 2009.

    Winehouse's health often appeared fragile. In June 2008 and again in April 2010, she was taken to hospital and treated for injuries after fainting and falling at home.

    Her father said she had developed the lung disease emphysema from smoking cigarettes and crack, although her spokeswoman later said Winehouse only had "early signs of what could lead to emphysema."

    She left the hospital to perform at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert in Hyde Park in June 2008, and at the Glastonbury festival the next day, where she received a rousing reception but scuffled with a member of the crowd. Then it was back to a London clinic for treatment, continuing the cycle of music, excess and recuperation that marked her career.




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    Default Amy Winehouse Becomes the Newest Member of the Forever 27 Club

    Amy Winehouse Becomes the Newest Member of the Forever 27 Club



    Amy Winehouse watches The Libertines perform live at The Forum on August 25, 2010 in London.


    As the tributes start to pour in from around the world after the troubled British musician Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London flat at the age of 27, a further twist emerged: Winehouse is but the latest singer to join the so-called 27 Club.

    Some of rock 'n' roll's greatest ever talents have passed away at this relatively young age. Winehouse is the newest member of a super-group, if you will, that contains Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Brian Jones. But one wonders if Winehouse herself would have been aware of the Forever 27 Club? There's so much about them online that it would surely have been difficult for any singer, let alone someone of Winehouse's stature, to have not known.




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    Sad news.....

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    Of course, it's impossible to know what was in her mind during these final days (indeed, what with stints in rehab, court appearances, a troubled marriage and a recently canceled tour due to a shambolic performance in Serbia, where she appeared too drunk to perform, she clearly had problems that were there for all to see) but her passing does seem somewhat post-modern (which isn't intended to come across as trite). Not only was her death disclosed on Twitter before the news networks or traditional websites reported it (that was certainly the case in Britain) but the hashtag #27Club is trending worldwide.

    The last major member of Forever 27 was Nirvana's lead singer Kurt Cobain, who took his own life at his Lake Washington home in 1994. His mother, Wendy O'Conner, would refer to it as "that stupid club." Jim Morrison was also the lead singer of another seminal U.S. band, The Doors, and he passed away in Paris in 1971. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix died within weeks of each during the previous year, 1970, whereas Brian Jones, a founding member of the Rolling Stones, drowned in a swimming pool in 1969. And going back even further, Blues legend Robert Johnson (whose cause of death has been disputed) passed away in 1938.

    Winehouse, as with all the names in this most unfortunate of lists, had talent to burn, but, tragically, won't be able to put it to any further use. As my colleague Catherine Mayer tweeted, "there were already enough rock casualties. It's better to fade away than burn out." Amen to that -- and RIP Amy Winehouse. If the Forever 27 club never admits another member, that would be one of Winehouse's most notable legacies.



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    Default Photos: The Life and Times of Amy Winehouse!



    Photos: The Life and Times of Amy Winehouse!






    The British singer only lived for 27 years but had more ups and downs than many people have in a lifetime. TIME looks back on a flame that burnt out too soon




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    Amy Jade Winehouse: September 14 1983-July 23 2011



    The troubled British singer Amy Winehouse has been found dead in her north London home at the age of 27. Despite only releasing two albums, she had received much acclaim from around the world. But as well as her undoubted talent, there was a darker side to Winehouse (above in 2008), which not only manifested itself but seemingly did for her in the end.



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    In Concert, 2008





    Winehouse started to write music at 14 and, in part thanks to a former boyfriend who sent a tape to an A&R man, she snagged a contract with Island/Universal and a publishing deal with EMI. Her debut album Frank was released in 2003, and was a startling alternative to much of the female music of the time (the charts were dominated by the likes of Britney Spears, Dido, Norah Jones, Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne). The Times of London called it "earthy, warm, lived-in and astonishingly versatile." But even better was to come.




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    Back to the Future



    Winehouse's undoubted career highlight was Back To Black, which deservedly walked away with a slew of awards, including Grammys and Brits in 2007, and found its way into millions of households and hearts. It's no exaggeration to state that (and credit is also due to producer Mark Ronson) it channels the likes of Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughn and Nina Simone, via The Shangri-Las and The Supremes (as TIME correctly asked when awarding it album of the year status, "Who stuffed all those black ladies into that tiny white girl?") The title track, "You Know I'm No Good," and "Tears Dry on Their Own" will endure for years but opening salvo "Rehab" will surely be her epitaph, what with that first line, "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no." In this photo, she hugs her mother Janis after hearing that she had won Record of the Year award for "Back to Black."



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    Father Figure



    Winehouse's father, Mitchell, was not only a taxi driver but also a jazz enthusiast and would often sing songs to his daughter as she grew up. He remained one of her fiercest fans (as well as critic at times). He's also developed a musical career of his own and was in New York at the time of her death. He was due to perform at London's Blue Note Jazz Club on Monday July 25 but the show was understandably canceled. Father and daughter perform above at a club in London, October 2007.



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    Hardly Civil



    It's believed that an initial split with then-boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil inspired much of Back to Black. And to call their relationship rocky barely does it justice (when they were dating, she carved his name into her stomach during an interview with Spin magazine). Predictably unpredictable, Winehouse secretly married him during a trip to Florida in May 2007, which surprised her family and fans (the photo above was taken one month later). Later that year, Fielder-Civil was arrested and accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm and attempting to pervert the course of justice. They divorced in 2009 but upon his own request Fielder-Civil received no money in the settlement.



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