Category: Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse: An Appreciation

Who couldn’t be drawn to the soulful singer, with her honesty, devil-may-care attitude and the sad craziness of her addictions?

Amy Winehouse, who was found dead on Saturday, July 24, 2011, at age 27, is seen here in 2007.

It takes focus right now to actually hear Amy Winehouse’s voice amid all the chatter, to appreciate the breath and hum that created “Back to Black,” her devastating second, and final, album. After all, the lurid, sad craziness of her addiction, to which she apparently succumbed over the weekend at her home in London, was her story line — as was failure — and her honesty and openness in tackling the subjects, coupled with her charisma and vocal swagger, was her allure.

Had she sung about her family trying to make her go to a barbecue instead of rehab or had she titled her breakout album “Back to Pink,” well, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. Her story was her trouble.

But her death Saturday at age 27 resonates because of that ragged, beautiful voice and that singular record, “Back to Black.” It resonates because in 2006, the notion that a singer could somehow resurrect and re-imagine soul music in a way that rang true for a new generation seemed not only improbable but also ill advised, let alone that these songs be delivered by a lady Brit with a crooked beehive and Cleopatra eyeliner. But then you hear “Love Is a Losing Game,” the wrenching, perfect antiballad from “Back to Black,” or you get lost inside the swirl of sound and rhythm in “Rehab,” or gaze into the abyss that is the title track, the singer who “died a hundred times” when she lost her lover to another, the voice that can’t stop uttering, “black, black, black,” and you begin to understand.

PHOTOS: Amy Winehouse | 1983-2011 

Winehouse’s style drew on classic ‘60s soul and rhythm and blues idioms as originally released by Atlantic, Stax and Motown, and she and “Back to Black” producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi updated the sound with an urgent modern backbeat. A return to classic forms had been bubbling in the British and American underground but was ignored by the mainstream, and Winehouse, with her mound of black hair and tattooed arms, manifested it with a devil-may-care attitude.

In an era of manufactured image as perfected by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, Winehouse resonated particularly because she lived so transparently, from the lyrics she chose to write to the way she casually but confidently phrased them, not to mention the way she conducted herself with her fans and the press. Hers was a blue-collar voice, one that channeled the critic inside all of us that presumes failure, that tells us we’re less than we are, that knows bad stuff is going to happen and we’re foolish to try to stop it.

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Amy Winehouse: 'raw, honest vocal delivery' remembered on Twitter

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Amy Winehouse's peers quickly responded via Twitter to the news that the Grammy Award-winning singer was found dead in her London home on Saturday.

Whether it was through Twitter -- she is still trending along with some of the other musicians who passed on at the age of 27 including Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin -- or radio marathons like the one that quickly popped up on KJLH (102.3), the soul singer was being memorialized.

Winehouse's music overflowed with a deep-rooted pain and heartache that sadly played out quite publicly in her personal life. She never made apologies for her demons and was never able to overcome them. And although no cause of death has been reported, the headlines she's made recently for her battle with addiction made for easy speculation about what caused her demise.

Pictures: Amy Winehouse, 1983-2011

"Drugs took her gift, her soul, her light, long before they took her life. RIP Amy," singer Josh Groban tweeted. While close friend Kelly Osbourne grieved, "i cant even breath right my now im crying so hard i just lost 1 of my best friends. i love you forever Amy & will never forget the real you!"

A host of rest in peace tweets streamed in from musicians including Diddy, Rihanna, Demi Lovato, Nas, Natasha Bedingfield, Nicki Minaj, Big Boi, Diplo and Selena Gomez. But celebs were also quick to tweet their frustration that the singer ultimately succumbed to the same demons that so many young performers in the #27club (as Twitter users have pegged it):

"Think I speak for most when I say we were just waiting for Amy Winehouse to get on track and be the great talent she was born to be," rapper Bun B wrote; Nas asked "Why u couldn't chill?"; Ricky Martin said "I feel pain. I feel anger"; and Keri Hilson "kept hoping she'd find a happier place than her self destructive state." 

But the short catalog of dark soul/R&B and jazz numbers that she left behind are surely to get a fresh rotation now that she is gone.  

"Honestly, Back to Black is one of my favorite albums. The lyrics?! The musicianship?! The raw, honest vocal delivery?! A STUNNING work.," R&B singer JoJo wrote. Soul singer Ledisi also praised Winehouse's "great talent" and  "her honesty in music."

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Amy Winehouse found dead in her London home

Soul clothes: Amy Winehouse inspires a collection by Brit brand Fred Perry

Amy Winehouse cancels part of European tour, singer 'cannot perform to the best of her ability'

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
twitter.com/gerrickkennedy

Photo: Amy Winehouse performing at the Glastonbury Festival in England in 2008. Credit: Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

 

Amy Winehouse found dead in her London home

Winehouse

Troubled U.K. pop star Amy Winehouse was found dead Saturday in her London home, according to multiple British wire reports. Britain's Sky News reported that paramedics were called to her home at just after 4 p.m., but the 27 year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.

Winehouse publicists in the U.S. and Great Britain have not yet responded to requests for comment. No reason has yet been cited as a cause of death.

Winehouse had recently canceled her summer European tour dates after a disastrous performance in the Serbian capital of Belgrade in which the singer was heavily booed after arriving late and then staggering through the performance. Such erratic behavior has largely been the norm for Winehouse since her 2006 effort "Back to Black" catapulted her to stardom. 

Pictures: Amy Winehouse, 1983-2011

Winehouse released her debut, "Frank," in 2003, a collection of jazzy neo-soul tunes. Her 2006 album, "Back to Black," saw Winehouse remade as a tough, no-nonsense R&B singer in a '60s-inspired vintage mode. Working with rising producer Mark Ronson and New York's acclaimed rhythm & blues crew the Dap Kings, "Back to Black" was heavy on noir imagery and recalled the early days of Motown, most notably in the hit singles "Rehab" and "You Know I'm No Good."

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Amy Winehouse cancels part of European tour, singer 'cannot perform to the best of her ability'

Winehouse 

The news that Amy Winehouse has canceled part of her European tour is a blow to the fans patiently awaiting her comeback. Seeing the reason behind the cancellations, however, makes for a heartbreaking confirmation that the embattled singer doesn't seem ready for the stage and appears to be on the losing end of her battle against sobriety.

Winehouse was in the Serbian capital of Belgrade this last weekend, kicking off what was supposed to be a 12-date European tour. As a slew of embarrassing videos showcasing her erratic onstage behavior show, the performance was a disaster.

In one YouTube clip, the singer stumbles through "Just Friends." Her eyes heavily glazed, she can barely stand upright and she rattles off a band introduction as she slurs the lyrics to the tracks.

Winehouse was booed both for her poor performance and her tardiness, and has canceled appearances in Istanbul (where she was scheduled to perform Monday) and in Athens on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. Her representatives said it would be "worked out as soon as possible" as to whether or not she would resume the rest of the tour.

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On the American Music Awards red carpet: Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block talk touring

A number of female reporters began to blush at the American Music Awards on Sunday night when a motley crew of boy banders -- consisting of members of New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys -- made their way down the red carpet.

The two groups, who performed on the awards show, are hitting the road together in May.  

"We're gonna do a mash-up of some of the greatest hits of both groups as well as give each other both a chance to be onstage and show off some of our biggest hits," BSB's Howie Dorough said of the tour. 

On June 1, they'll be stopping at Staples Center, which BSB's AJ McLean called an "awesome venue. The fans here in L.A. have always been good to us."

The men were the last remaining musicians on the carpet only minutes before showtime Sunday. We started to talk to Brian Littrell, also of BSB, but he was quickly pulled away. Of course, not before he could plug the tour once more.

"Get your tickets now, because they're selling out," he advised. "We sold out Chicago in 15 minutes, so get 'em now!"

Teenyboppers, you've been warned.

-- Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Pete Doherty dissed me! One reporter's London odyssey

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I went all the way to London to interview England's most notorious rock star and all I got was this stupid blog post.

It wasn't supposed to turn out this way. The plan was for me to sit down with Pete Doherty, the former lead singer for shambolic buzz bands the Libertines and Babyshambles, a skinny bloke whose tabloid renown as supermodel Kate Moss' ex eclipses his musical notoriety in this country.

The meeting place: a posh hotel in the Shephard's Bush section of the British capital where we would talk about his debut solo album, "Grace/Wasteland" (Astralwerks), which hits retail stores today. And Doherty might provide a little light diversion by doing something druggy or outrageous before our time together was up.

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Amy Winehouse Coachella watch: She's out

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When the Coachella lineup was announced earlier this year, there was plenty of discussion about Paul McCartney and the boomer takeover of the event. But the McCartney booking was hardly as big of a surprise as another English artist: Amy Winehouse.

Though the tabloid staple couldn't get into the United States for the Grammys, would Coachella be able to work its magic and bring Winehouse to sunny Southern California? And could she stay out of trouble long enough to make it to America in mid-April?

Turns out no. The Associated Press reports -- and the Coachella Twitter confirms -- that Winehouse is out for the three-day fest. From Associated Press:

A spokesman for Amy Winehouse says the singer won't perform in the United States next month, as had been planned.

Spokesman Chris Goodman said Monday that Winehouse isn't going to the Coachella festival in Indio, Calif., in "light of current legal issues."

Winehouse was charged with assault last week for allegedly attacking a fan at a London party in September. The singer is due in court next week.

Being charged with a crime often makes it difficult for people to get U.S. visas.
Winehouse's battles with addiction and frequent run-ins with the law have been highly publicized.

And that's that.

On the plus side, it saves us a few more weeks of a will-she-or-won't-she Winehouse watch. On the down side, who will fill her Saturday night hole on the Coachella bill?

--Todd Martens

Photo:  Getty Images

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