A is for Amy: Born on September 14, 1983 in Enfield, by the time of her death 27 years later Amy had sold 4m albums (a further 2.4m records have since been sold), picked up 5 Grammys and changed the face of British pop forever. Here’s an A-Z of her astonishing, unforgettable life and career.
B is for booze: ‘Rehab’, undoubtedly Amy’s biggest hit, was written in just 6 hours with close collaborator Mark Ronson. The singer’s other major vice also began with a b – her tempestuous on-again off-again relationship with husband Blake Fielder-Civil was the subject of many of her best-loved tracks. “I go back to things I maybe shouldn’t,” the singer said in 2004.
C is for Carole King: King’s wistful 1971 piano staple ‘So Far Away’ was Winehouse’s favourite song – so much so that her funeral service ended with friends and family singing the track in her honour. Amy had previously covered King’s ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ but ‘So Far Away’ remained her favourite.
D is for Doherty: Libertines man Pete Doherty was a close friend of the star, and claims to have had an affair with her. “Amy and I were lovers. I loved her then and, well, I still do today,” he told the Daily Mail in 2013. “But towards the end, as only lovers can, she became quite mean and cruel to me. She didn’t suffer fools… and believe me, she had a mean right hook.”
E is for early troubles: according to biographer Chloe Govan, Winehouse attempted suicide aged 10, shortly after her father Mitch Winehouse left mother Janis for another woman known as “daddy’s work wife”. Govan claims that Amy was so devastated by her parents’ separation that she fell into a spiral of self-harming, took an overdose of pills and was found by a friend foaming at the mouth.
F is for fashion: Despite her iconic beehive, widely imitated look and 2010 collaboration with fashion label Fred Perry, Winehouse didn’t consider herself a style icon. “I just dress like I’m an old Jewish black man. I just dress like it’s still the ’50s,” she told Bazaar in 2010.
G is for ghost: In 2012, a friend of Pete Doherty told the Sun that he’d moved to Paris because his London flat was “haunted by Amy Winehouse’s ghost.” The friend added: “You might think from that he’s on drugs, but he’s clean.”
H is for hologram: X Factor bosses investigated the possibility of creating an Amy Winehouse hologram to duet with contestants on the show in 2012, following Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg’s Coachella Tupac hologram earlier that year. They hoped to later do a tour with the Winehouse hologram, but the plans fell through.
I is for ink: Among Amy’s many tattoos were a razor blade over her heart with ‘Blake’ written above it, a native American feather, ‘Daddy’s Girl’, a naked woman, her grandmother Cynthia, a horse shoe, an anchor surrounded by the word ‘Hello Sailor’ and a lightning bolt she joked as liking because “like me, lightning’s a natural disaster!”
J is for Jay Z: Hova credited Amy as a “huge talent” responsible for opening up British female pop to the US again. He was later involved in a cover of ‘Back to Black’ for Baz Lurham film The Great Gatsby in 2013 in his role overseeing the soundtrack. Beyonce and Andre 3000 sang the track, but father Mitch slammed it, insisting they “added nothing” to the original.
K is for Kalemegdan Park: Amy’s last ever gig was at Kalemegdan Park in Serbia on June 18 2011. The show made international headlines after footage emerged appearing to show the star drunk and incapable of performing, but it’s widely understood that Winehouse was clean at the time of her death, leading her father to speculate that detoxing had killed her.
L is for Lady Gaga: In 2011, Gaga put herself forward for a role in a potential Winehouse biopic, describing herself as “unable to speak for 48 hours” following the singer’s sudden death. Amy’s family have described a movie about the star’s life as “inevitable” but the project is currently not in development.
M is for Mark Ronson: “She was one of those magical people who burn more brightly than the rest of us,” wrote Mark Ronson after Amy’s death for the Guardian. The producer had worked closely with the singer from 2006 until her death, collaborating on her ‘Back To Black’ album and his smash 2007 covers record, ‘Versions’.
N is for Nas: One of the last recordings made before her death was a vocal line used in Nas’s ‘Cherry Wine’, from the rapper’s 2012 album ‘Life Is Good’. “Part of me didn’t want to do the song… Amy and I share a birthday, so she was my sister. We were all hoping she would pull through and come back,” he told NME.
O is for Ol’ Blue Eyes: Frank Sinatra was a major influence on Amy – so much so, she named her first album after the crooner (the title was also a nod to her honest lyrical style). Amy grew to dislike the record, however. “I’ve never heard the album from start to finish. I don’t have it in my house… Everything was a shambles,” she told the Observer.
P is for Prince: After Prince talked up his love of Amy and his wish to collaborate, Amy told MTV: “I’ll drop everything to do that. I’d do it with bells on. All day long.” Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger was another admirer who’d hoped to collaborate before her 2011 death, as did Stevie Wonder.
Q is for quitting showbiz: Winehouse appeared to have plans to leave behind singing before her death in 2011 to concentrate on family life. “I know I’m talented, but I wasn’t put here to sing. I was put here to be a wife and a mum and look after my family. I love what I do, but it’s not where it begins and ends,” she told the Observer.
R is for roller-skating: Winehouse’s first foray into music came when she was 10, forming a Salt-n-Pepa styled rap duo with childhood friend Juliette Ashby called Sweet ‘n Sour (no points for guessing which one Amy was.) But Amy wasn’t interested in a career in music at this point – instead, she dreamed of being a roller-skating waitress like in 1973 coming of age film American Graffiti.
S is for school: Winehouse was enrolled at London’s prestigous Sylvia Young Theatre School aged 11, but was soon kicked out for getting her nose pierced and “general slackeritude,” according to Rolling Stone. She dropped out of school altogether at 14.
T is for tribute songs: In the aftermath of Amy’s death in 2011, Green Day and Patti Smith both wrote tracks inspired by the singer, while Coldplay, Florence + the Machine, George Michael and Bruno Mars also performed Winehouse covers at high profile gigs.
U is for ugly: Despite her outgoing demeanour onstage and on TV chat shows, Winehouse constantly worried she was unattractive. In 2007, she failed to show up for her own birthday party in North London after deciding she didn’t “look good enough” according to reports at the time.
V is for vocal range: One for the musos – Amy’s voice spanned three octaves and one semi tone, D3-Eb6.
W is for wedding dress: The dress Winehouse wore at her 2007 wedding in Florida to Fielder-Civil was expected to raise £100,000 at a charity auction in New York in 2012, but was stolen from her home. Father Mitch said: ‘It’s sickening to know that someone would steal something in the knowledge of its sentimental value’.
X is for the xx: Jamie xx was a fan of the singer, and included an edit of her single ‘You Know I’m No Good’ in a 2011 BBC Essential mix. Listen here.
Y is for ‘You Know I’m No Good’: Borrowing a bass line from House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’, this ‘Back To Black’ track became one of Amy’s best-loved among fans. A second version of the song featuring guest vocals from Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah later appeared on the American and Japanese releases of the album.
Z is for the Zutons: Such was the immense popularity of Amy and Mark Ronson’s 2007 cover of the Zuton’s ‘Valerie’, people forgot the Zutons wrote the song, according to the band. “I don’t mind though,” said frontman Dave McCabe. The single spent 39 weeks in the top 40, selling 329,490 copies.