The Evolution of Amy Winehouse
On Saturday morning, July 23, the musical industry and world lost the talented Amy Winehouse. The cause of her death is still undetermined, although it was reported Sunday evening that the singer died alone in her bed. As news of her death flooded the internet, reactions from fans and celebrities were astonishing, including a song by M.I.A. dedicated to her (and others who have passed at the age of 27). Winehouse's album sales have increased immensely within the 24-hour period between Friday and Saturday, pushing it back onto the charts almost five years after its 2006 release.
In addition to her musical talent and unfortunate addiction problems, Winehouse was known for her signature look, which included a sky-high beehive, heavy Cleopatra eyeliner, and an array of tattoos. Much like her 1960s retro style, her tattoos follow a similar suit, so as the world says goodbye to a troubled soul, we look back on the evolution of Amy Winehouse.
Fresh-faced, tattooless, and barely 21 (pictured on left), Amy Winehouse arrived at the Brit Awards in 2004. Just four years later, at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday tribute, a tattooed and heavily done-up Winehouse (pictured on right) performs.
Most of us don't remember a time when Amy Winehouse was on the brink of her 20s with a voice that came from another era, but this morning an East London cabbie shared a video with the world of Winehouse at age 18.
In 2003, Winehouse stepped onto the music scene with the release of debut record Frank, introducing the world to her Nina Simone-meets-Billie Holiday sound. In an interview with MTV Italy, the singer discusses her sound, influences, the importance of London to her album, and love. At this early point in her career, she still had a very low-key look, seemed somewhat innocent, and came off quite naive to the fame that was just around the corner.
With her debut album, Frank, many of the music videos featured simple concepts, and Amy's look was still pretty plain, even while performing live.
In 2005, the singer appeared on the Jool's Holland Show and performed a rendition of Dinah Washington's "Teach Me Tonight." Although a cover song, Winehouse's strong, soulful voice captured the true essence of the song.
Although her debut album was received positively by critics and the music industry, it wasn't until Mark Ronson signed on to produce sophomore album Back to Black in 2006 that she gained international success. By this point, Winehouse's sound had evolved, she began to come into her own, and her look changed considerably. In 2006, the singer performed "Back to Black" on the Live Album Chart Show , arriving on stage in her new look, which included tattoos on her arms, heavier liner, and the beginning of her beehive.
At the 2007 Brit Awards, Amy Winehouse stops for an interview to chat about her upcoming performance, and although her look is becoming more outrageous, she is still well-put-together. That night, she performed "Rehab" and took home the award for Best British Female.
In 2008, Amy Winehouse was nominated for six Grammy Awards, so there was no question that she should be asked to perform on at the ceremonies. However, at this point, the singer was undergoing serious treatment for her drug addiction, making it difficult to obtain a work visa. Although she wasn't able to attend in person, Winehouse performed on a London sound stage via satellite, and to the TV audience, it was absolutely flawless. That night, she took home five awards. But this moment might have signified the beginning of the end. The producers of the show also made her cover up the topless-lady tattoo on her forearm.
At this point in her career, it could have gone either way. Unfortunately, Amy's addiction began to take over, and her performances began to suffer. Just months after her Grammy appearance, Winehouse signed on to the 2008 "Rock in Rio" concert, but her stage presence was less-than-desirable. She fell over on stage, her voice was failing, and you can assume she was intoxicated.
Following these tragic public moments, Winehouse became increasingly withdrawn, and it was revealed by her father, Mitch Winehouse, that Amy was suffering from the early stages of the incurable pulmonary ailment emphysema, including scarring in her lungs. Over the next few years, Winehouse battled with her drug addiction, was brought up on possession charges, assaulted a fan, and finally divorced husband Blake Fielder-Civil. There were brief moments of hope for Amy's recovery, like her performance at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday party and her various attempts at rehab.
In 2011, there seemed to be a light at the end of Winehouse's dark tunnel with her new line with Fred Perry, the announcement of a third album, and an upcoming European tour. But on June 18, when Winehouse stepped on stage in Belgrade, it was clear her addiction had gotten the best of her. The 27-year-old singer stumbled, couldn't remember the lyrics, took off her shoes, and wandered around aimlessly. The audience booed her off the stage while her musicians tried to keep the concert afloat, but there was no turning back.
Days later, the troubled singer announces she will be canceling her tour. Two days later, Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home. Like many great musicians before her -- including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain -- Winehouse died at age 27, a tragic phenomenon that has plagued the music industry for decades. We will never know at exactly what point Winehouse lost herself to her addiction or what happened in those last days, but her music will live on forever, captivating generations for years to come.
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