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Amy Winehouse

Singer / Songwriter

Born: 14 September 1983
Died: 23 July 2011 (alcohol poisoning)
Birthplace: London, England
Best known as: The talented, boozy and short-lived singer of the song "Rehab"

Amy Winehouse was an English pop-soul singer whose hit song "Rehab" seemed to sum up her life: tremendous musical talent mixed with fearsome personal demons. She is credited with inspiring the British retro-R&B trend of the mid-2000s that led to the rise of artists like Lily Allen and Adele and the American pop star Lady Gaga. As a youngster, Amy Winehouse bounced through a number of schools, including a stint at the BRIT School for the Performing Arts and Technology. A hot demo tape got Winehouse a recording contract with Island Records when she was still a teen. Her debut album, Frank (2003), earned heaps of praise and put her on the map in the U.K. With her beehive hair and Cleopatra-style eyeliner, the vocal swagger of Nina Simone, and the bad behavior of Janis Joplin, Winehouse won attention from music critics and gossip journalists alike. Her second release, Back to Black (2006), made her a bigger star in the U.K. and in the United States, where the album was released in 2007. By then she was also making headlines for cancelling shows and for regular public displays of drunkenness, all of which reinforced her image as a bruised soul and gave life to the songs she was selling. (The Back to Black single "Rehab" included the now-famous refrain, "They tried to make me go to rehab / I said no, no, no.") Winehouse won five Grammy Awards in 2008, including awards for best new artist, best pop vocal album (for Back to Black), and three awards for "Rehab": record of the year, song of the year, and best pop vocal performance. Visa problems kept Winehouse from flying to Los Angeles for the awards show, so instead she performed dynamic versions of "Rehab" and "You Know I'm No Good" via satellite hookup. It turned out to be the high-water mark of her career; she never recorded another album, and her drug and alcohol problems spiraled out of control. Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment on 23 July 2011; three months later, a coroner's report said that she had been drinking heavily and "the unintended consequence of such potentially fatal levels was her sudden and unexpected death.''

Extra credit:

Amy Winehouse married Blake Fielder-Civil, a video production assistant, in 2007; he was jailed after an unrelated assault six months later. They were divorced in 2009... Back to Black was eligible for the 2008 Grammys because the awards covered recordings released from 1 October 2006 to 30 September 2007... Winehouse became the first British female to win five Grammys, and her five-award night tied the record at that time for most wins by a female artist in a single year.

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More on Amy Winehouse from Infoplease:

  • Amy Winehouse - extended bio and obituary on influential singer songwriter Amy Winehouse.
  • Amy Winehouse - Biography of Amy Winehouse, The talented, boozy and short-lived singer of the song "Rehab"
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