Remembering Amy Winehouse (Sept. 14, 1983 - July 23, 2011)
Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment Saturday afternoon. There's no word on the exact cause of death, but the 27-year-old singer had been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction for many years.
The daughter of a taxi driver father, Mitch, and a pharmacist mother, Janis, the British soul singer was born in London on Sept. 14, 1983. A longtime lover of music, Winehouse formed a short-lived rap group, Sweet 'n' Sour, at the age of 10. Three years later, she received her first guitar and began writing her own music.
Her then-boyfriend, singer Tyler James, sent her demo tape to an A&R executive. Impressed with her sultry vocals, Simon Fuller's 19 Management scooped her up in 2002. After signing a publishing deal with EMI, Winehouse released her debut album, Frank, on October 20, 2003. It was widely praised by critics and achieved platinum status.
The rest of the world took notice of Winehouse three years later with the release of her sophomore album, Back to Black. In 2007, it became the best-selling album in the U.K. with 1.85 million copies sold. That May, Winehouse married former video production assistant Blake Fielder-Civil during a secret getaway in Florida.
In January 2008, Winehouse checked into rehab after leaked footage showed the singer snorting an unidentified substance. (In the tape, she also smoked from a pipe and admitted to taking six Valium.) The following month, Winehouse won five Grammy Awards, propelling her album to No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard charts. (Watch the video, above.)
After a May 2008 arrest for drug possession and a two-month vacation in St. Lucia, Winehouse made headlines in March 2009 when she allegedly punched a fan at a Society Ball in London. (She later pleaded not guilty and was acquitted of the assault charges.)
Winehouse then returned to St. Lucia, where she was hospitalized in May 2009 for dehydration. The following month, her parents publicly begged Winehouse to seek treatment for her addictions. "I need my daughter to be a whole person again," Mitch told reporters.
In July 2009, after two years of fights and arrests, the "Love Is a Losing Game" singer and Fielder-Civil ended their two-year marriage.
Devastated by their divorce, Winehouse spiraled further out of control. In December 2009 she pulled a theater manager's hair and shouted profanities during a family-friendly production of Cinderella. The following month she assaulted another theater manager; she was fined $100 and given a two-year conditional discharge.
By June 2010, Winehouse seems to be in better spirits thanks to British film director Reg Traviss, her first boyfriend since splitting with Fielder-Civil. Sadly, Winehouse entered rehab just weeks later.
The troubled singer kept a low-profile until May 2011 when she announced plans to seek additional treatment for alcohol addiction; she checked out of Priory Clinic after less than a week.
In mid-June, Winehouse forgot her own lyrics and stumbled across the stage during a concert in Serbia (she was booed by 20,000 fans). Her European tour was subsequently canceled. "Everyone involved wishes to do everything they can to help her return to her best," her spokesman Chris Goodman said at the time. "She will be given as long as it takes for this to happen."
On July 23, 2011, Winehouse was found dead in her Camden Square apartment; the exact cause of death has yet to be determined. "We are deeply saddened at the sudden loss of such a gifted musician, artist and performer," her record label, Universal Music Group, told Us Weekly in a statement. "Our prayers go out to Amy's family, friends and fans at this difficult time."