Ten years ago, the English singer was found dead in her house. The autopsy indicated that it was alcohol intoxication. Amy had dazzled the world with her first two albums but then she couldn’t record any more. His last public appearances were embarrassing. The foreseeable end of the most recent member of the fatal Club of 27.
At ten in the morning, the bodyguard approached his door and heard nothing. It did not surprise him. Nor when he repeated the movement at 12 noon.
He supposed he was sleeping. The night before, she had stayed up late in her room. Three hours later, the man became concerned. He went to wake her up. I speak slowly from the door. He received no reply.
He walked over and raised his voice. He received no reply. Crouched over the bed, he shook the 27-year-old. There was also no response. Only then did he feel the stench of alcohol. He screamed. He hesitated for a second until he tried some resuscitation manoeuvre. He quickly abandoned the attempt and called an ambulance, although without much hope.
It was 4 pm on July 23, 2011. Amy Winehouse had died of ethyl poisoning. On the side of the bed were three empty vodka bottles. Toxicological tests showed that there were no traces of drugs in his blood. Only alcohol. Very much. An inordinate amount. 4.16 grams per liter of blood.
The limit before alcoholic coma is 3.5. She was 27 years old and had an exceptional voice. Despite being so young, no one was too shocked by the news. His downfall had been predictable and immensely public. Every drunkenness, every excess, every breach of contract had been in the eyes of everyone. An example: Three years earlier, in 2008, when Amy was 24, the Sunday Times published an article titled:Can Amy Winehouse be saved? Is there something that can save her from herself?
Amy had fallen apart in public. As she had written in the title track of the album that consecrated her Back to black : “I died hundreds of times”. That July 23 was the last and final. A slow, lonely, predictable and early death.
When did your downfall begin? Impossible to say exactly. The accusations began on the day of his death. Who were the main responsible? Her father, her ex-husband, her ex-boyfriend, the press, the industry? A common sport: trying to find an explanation that closes, a villain that reassures consciences, that appeases uncertainty, that expunges the one who left.
From her early youth, Amy suffered from depression and bulimia. The eating disorder was hidden for a long time. Then came alcohol and drugs. In industrial quantities.
Amy Winehouse was a gargantuan singer. His voice was a force of nature. His first recordings are amazing. A twenty-year-old girl who sings with the depth of a veteran, with a unique voice colour and dazzling technical handling. In the fullness of her faculties, she was noted with total control of her art, an innate ability. It was something real, emotional, authentic. There were no tricks. There was an ancient pain in his song . She once recognized that being a professional singer had not crossed her mind because singing for her was natural, every day, something that was always by her side. Her first public appearances showed a girl of great frankness, with a wild naturalness and an unusual frontality.
In the beginning, she considered herself a jazz singer, but with her two official albums (after her death the record company released some uneven albums with discarded takes) she became the great R&B, soul and pop singer of the 21st century. Back to black is a small masterpiece, the pinnacle of his art, of his meagre legacy. In addition to being a critical success, it was a huge sales success. Millions of copies around the world and awards of all kinds. Five Grammys, Mercury Prize and several Brits Awards.
Frank, his first album, had a good reception, the impact of the unexpected. A voice that seemed to belong to someone much older. The artistic search was permanent; she wanted to be authentic. The lyrics of his songs make up an autobiography, an anthology of small failures, a catalogue of love frustrations. Already in those years, the scandals began to haunt her. Erratic behaviour in several public appearances, some suspended concerts, recitals with vocal performances far below his possibilities.
What was not yet known at the time was that the problems with alcohol and drugs were so severe. She had had collapses and overdose hospitalizations that put her on the brink of death on several occasions. In one of them, they found traces of alcohol, cocaine, crack and heroin in his blood. The official versions spoke of routine check-ups, a bad reaction to a drug or extreme fatigue, although everyone knew what was happening.
Those were the times when she was dating Blake Fielder-Civil, a young man somewhat older than her who many around the singer syndicate as the person responsible for having submerged her in drugs. It seems difficult to reach such a strong verdict. Blake was, like Amy, a broken person. They sabotaged themselves just as effectively. And those needs, those shortcomings made them come together and recognized each other as peers and fell in love. Then came the separations and reconciliations – they always came back – until Blake was imprisoned for almost two years. One of those breaks provided all the lyrical content to Back to black , Amy’s consecrating work.
On that album, Amy’s voice was added to her unique phrasing by Mark Ronson’s production. This gave the songs a soulful air, mixing the productions of Phil Spector with Motown, with all the advances of the new century, which catapulted the album and its singer to the top of all the charts. The album sold, worldwide, more than 20 million copies. The topic that had the greatest circulation was Rehab. The one in which the singer says no, no, not to enter rehab.
In Amy, the Oscar-winning documentary directed by Asif Kapadia (specialist in documentary biopics like Senna and Maradona ) emerges another of those identified as guilty and who after Amy’s death did not hesitate to go out and shoot accusations on all fronts: Amy’s father, Mitch Winehouse. Denying, he did not acknowledge his daughter’s problems until quite late (he was one of the main opponents to his daughter entering rehabilitation centres for a long time). Absent for much of her daughter’s life, she made her appearance at the least appropriate time. . Fascinated by the fame, by the flashes, he did everything possible not to lose figuration and to obtain the greatest possible benefits from this new situation: to be the father of the new star of the moment.
The tabloid press tried to keep one more piece of that body that was disintegrating in full view of all. The singer’s vulnerability did not provoke compassion; quite the contrary, it fed their voracity. The paparazzi, dozens, were permanently stationed at the door of his house. Capturing an image with smudged makeup, blood on clothing, witnessing a marital fight, or perhaps a physical breakdown was an ever-present possibility in Amy’s chaotic life. And no one was willing to miss it. The soundtrack of each public appearance of the singer was the clicks of photographic flashes. Amy was falling apart in real timebefore the never frugal paparazzi. A cloud of photographers came to accompany her until she entered one of her hospitalizations.
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