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Bliss Lavelle

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Last Update on June 14, 2024

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British artist Amy Winehouse was known for her winged eyeliner and retro beehive hairdo, her deep vocals, and her blended mix of jazz, blues, R&B, funk, pop and soul. Making a historical mark on music that hasn’t been done before.

Even with all the money, glory and fame, Winehouse struggled with manic depression and substance abuse. It’s been nearly 14 years since the soul singer passed away at the age of 27 on July 23, 2011, due to accidental alcohol poisoning. Despite the tragedy, her legacy and impact on music and fashion forever lives on changing music forever.

Winehouse's Early Life and Career

Winehouse was born on September 14, 1983, in London, England. From a young age, Amy showed a huge interest when it came to music in a Jewish family that was rich in music heritage. Influenced by her grandmother’s love for singing and her father’s jazz records at the age of 10 founded a rap group called Sweet ‘n’ Sour. 

As a teen, she learned how to play guitar just at the young age of 14. Amy attended Sylvia Young Theater School and BRIT School. Her soulful voice and unique style caught the ears of music industry professionals, leading to her debut album “Frank” in 2003 at the age of 20. 

Nominated to the Mercury Prize and the BRIT Awards, Winehouse was a rising star in the British music scene. She began to collaborate with other artists, performed at festivals and large venues and started working on her second album, “Back to Black.” which would cement her status as one of the most iconic voices of her generation and skyrocket her career to international stardom.

Awards and Achievements

Amy Winehouse’s debut album “Frank” was released in 2003 when she was 20 years old.” Frank” was a nod to the well-known American singer and actor Frank Sinatra, who she was heavily influenced by since she was a child. “Frank” showcased her unique blend of blend of soul, jazz, and contemporary R&B with deeply personal lyrics.

“Frank” was critical and commercial success, reaching number 13 on the UK Album Chart and won Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song for the single “Stronger Than Me”. The album was also nominated for the Mercury Prize and the BRIT Award for Best British Female Solo Artist.

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Amy's Personal Life

When it came to Amy Winehouse’s personal life, she often dealt with a turbulent lifestyle and was highly publicized once fame struck. Especially when it came to her relationship with Black Fielder-Civil. The couple met in 2005 and married in 2007. Blake Field Civil introduced Winehouse to drugs. While staying in East London, she was given heroin, introducing her to hard drugs. With Amy’s addictive personality, she ultimately started drinking excessively and using hard substances such as meth, heroin, crack, cocaine and other club drugs.

Their relationship heavily impacted Winehouse’s music, especially her second album, “Back To Black.” The couple divorced in 2009. Though undeniably troubled, their relationship was a key part of Winehouse’s life and artistry, influencing her deeply personal and emotionally charged music.

Quick Tip

Why was Amy Winehouse so famous?

Not only was the award-winning Amy Winehouse known for her fashionable eyeliner and beehive hairdo, but she was also known for her strong, emotionally personal lyrics that drew from soul and jazz. Amy Winehouse left a lasting impact on the music industry, challenging the stereotype and perspective of the female artist in the male dominate music industry. Winehouse paved the way for many artists.

Amy Winehouse and Her Substance Abuse

Amy Winehouse’s struggle with substance abuse was, unfortunately, a huge part of her life and career. Her addiction to drugs and alcohol was highly publicized in the media. Amy’s refusal to get medical help for her addiction was the subject of her most famous song, “Rehab.” Her lyrics in the song reflected her defiance in the face of pressure from those around her to get treatment.

With multiple attempts at rehab, Winehouse remained trapped in the vicious cycle of addiction. Her substance abuse led to erratic behavior, health problems, and legal issues, including arrests and public intoxication.
Winehouse’s addiction also impacted her career, leading to canceled performances and concerns about her ability to continue making music.

Amy Winehouse’s battle with addiction ultimately took her life. She died of alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at the age of 27, becoming a member of the infamous “27 Club” of musicians who died at that age, often due to substance abuse issues.

Famous singer Amy Winehouse was ultimately addicted to alcohol and other hard substances such as meth, heroin, crack, cocaine and other club drugs.

Amy Winehouse battled an eating disorder called bulimia that was quite overlooked since she was a young girl. The lack of attention to her eating disorder, both by her family and the media. This eating disorder was one of the many factors in her mental health and addiction issues.3

The 27-year-old star died from accidental alcohol poisoning on July 32, 2011, after being sober for 2 weeks. Showing the true dangers of relapsing. Amy was found dead by her bodyguard in her flat in Camden, north London and was pronounced dead.2

Media and Public Scrutiny

Throughout her career, Amy Winehouse faced intense media scrutiny and public attention that often focused on exaggerated stories and paparazzi photos rather than her artistry and music. As her fame grew, so did the media’s constant prying on her personal life and the feedback that followed it, especially her struggles with addiction and her tumultuous relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil.

With media’s constant coverage likely took a toll on Winehouse’s mental health. At the time, the rise of social media platforms during Winehouse’s career amplified the public surrounding her, both positive and negative. Contributing to the public’s complex and often contradictory relationship with Winehouse as both a troubled individual and a celebrated artist. The media’s role in shaping public opinion about Winehouse cannot be undermined, as news outlets and social media platforms played a significant role in framing the narrative around her life and career.

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Final Days and Tragic Death of Amy Winehouse

Amy’s final weeks leading up to her death on July 23, 2011, Amy Winehouse’s struggle with addiction had intensified, with erratic public appearances and attempts at rehab. On the day of her death, Winehouse’s bodyguard found her unresponsive in her bed at her home in Camden, London. It was later determined that her death was caused by alcohol poisoning. She had a blood alcohol level that was more than five times the legal driving limit.

Winehouse’s death at the age of 27 made her a member of the infamous “27 Club,” a group of musicians including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain, who died at that age, often due to substance abuse. 

Her passing was met with an outpouring of grief from fans and fellow musicians alike, who mourned the loss of her unique voice, deeply personal songwriting, and retro style. Winehouse’s life and death serve as a reminder of the fragility of talent and the importance of seeking help when struggling with addiction.

Key Takeaways

The Legacy of Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse’s struggle with substance abuse shows that even with all the fame and fortune, you can fall into the deep waters of addiction. Amy Winehouse’s legend will always live on. Winehouse’s touch on music will always leave its mark on music history.

Her fearless approach to songwriting and unapologetic authenticity have made her an enduring icon and role model for aspiring musicians such as Lana Del Rey, Adele, Lady Gaga, and Sam Smith.

Amy Winehouse’s life, career, and tragic story serve as a testament to the power of music. Even with all the fame, money, glory, and someone who could have anything in life, she struggled with substance abuse and addiction. 

Her powerful and unapologetic figure in the music world, while her struggles with addiction and personal demons, made her a relatable and sympathetic figure to fans. Though her life was cut short, Winehouse’s impact on music and pop culture will never be forgotten.

Her legacy as a cultural icon, a gifted musician, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of substance abuse will continue to inspire and influence generations to come, cementing her place in music history as one of the most talented and unforgettable artists of her generation.

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Author & Reviewers

bliss lavelle addiction, mental health, and recovery writer

Bliss Lavelle, an aspiring writer, draws inspiration from her mother’s journey with addiction, mental health, and recovery to support and educate others, especially young adults, about the dangers of substance abuse, the importance of mental health awareness, and getting help through evidence-based treatment. 


Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges; he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues.

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