The story of Amy Winehouse's tragic death at the age of 27, 10 years later

19 July 2021, 17:31 | Updated: 21 July 2021, 13:53

Amy Winehouse died in 2011
Amy Winehouse died in 2011. Picture: Getty

Music fans were shocked to hear the news that Amy Winehouse had died aged just 27 on July 23, 2011.

10 years on from the talented singer's death, fans of the singer are remembering what made her such a special one-off.

In just a short period of time, Amy Winehouse had cemented herself as one of the world's most popular and promising singers, and arguably led the way for other British talents like Adele and Ed Sheeran.

Amy Winehouse was destined to be a star

Even as a small kid, Amy's mother Janis has said that her daughter was determined to make it as a singer.

Amy Winehouse in 2004
Amy Winehouse in 2004. Picture: Getty

Following her parents' split, she began skipping school, smoked marijuana and started getting tattoos, but she also wrote heartfelt lyrics about her life, and sang around London.

Read more: Home video of Amy Winehouse singing aged 14 confirms star's stunning natural talent

Amy got her first guitar when she was 13, and began writing music a year later. Her break came at 16, when her ex-boyfriend, soul singer Tyler James, sent a tape of her singing with a jazz band to his A&R manager.

It eventually led to a contract with the Island/Universal record label, and a publishing deal with EMI.

Aged 20, she released her first album Frank in 2003 to great acclaim. The album included hints of her addictions, such as hidden song 'Mr Magic' being about substance abuse.

Her on-off relationship inspired Back to Black

Following her successful debut album, Amy bought her first apartment in London’s Camden. She quickly loved the local scene and was a regular at nearby pubs, and was known to the drink the 'Rickstasy' at the pub The Hawley Arms.

Around this time, she met Blake Fielder-Civil, an addict who quickly became a chaotic focus of the singer.

Her first manager Nick Godwyn told The Times in 2007 that “Amy changed overnight after she met Blake. She just sounded completely different. Her personality became more distant.

Amy Winehouse and husband Blake Fielder-Civil in 2007
Amy Winehouse and husband Blake Fielder-Civil in 2007. Picture: Getty

"And it seemed to me like that was down to the drugs. When I met her she smoked weed but she thought the people who took class-A drugs were stupid. She used to laugh at them.”

It was Blake who introduced Amy to heroin and other hard drugs, and they got tattoos of each other's names. Their relationship was on-and- due to his infidelities and various periods in prison.

“If you’re a musician, and you have things you want to get out, you write music,” she told The Guardian in 2006. “You don’t want to be settled, because when you’re settled you might as well call it a day.”

Read more: Amy Winehouse's 10 greatest songs ever, ranked

Her battles with addiction and her difficult relationship certainly helped with her creativity, inspiring many of the lyrics in Back in Black. Songs like 'Rehab' and 'You Know I'm No Good' hinted at her inner turmoil, but combined with the sound of '60s girl groups, created an irresistable record.

Various trips to rehab didn't help

By late 2005, Godwyn tried to convince his client to go to rehab, concerned that her drinking and drug use would waste her talent, or even take her life.

Amy did eventually agree to go to rehab several times, but it never seemed to take hold.

Watch the trailer for Reclaiming Amy on the BBC

By February 2007, she was back with Fielder-Civil, and she began to perform erratic concerts. This led to her US tour being cancelled due to "exhaustion".

In October 2007, Amy and Fielder-Civil were arrested in Norway for marijuana possession, and in December, she was photographed walking around Camden in just her bra and jeans, looking worryingly thin.

Read more: When Amy Winehouse was discovered: Unknown star sings to astonished room of record executives in 2002

Soon after, the highlight of her career came when she performed (via satellite) at the 2008 Grammys, winning five awards. During the event, she thanked her “Blake, incarcerated,” who was in jail due to a bar fight in 2006.

The failed promise of a comeback

Amy would never follow up the success of Back to Black after several years of disappointing and heartbreaking performances.

She began to be booed off stage at gigs around the world when she was too drunk to perform, and also cancelled more concerts than she actually played at.

In 2009, Amy left the stage in the middle of a performance in St Lucia, as she was not able to remember the lyrics and waas in her own words, “bored.”

Amy Winehouse Last Ever Performance At Kalemegdan Park, June 18, 2011
Amy Winehouse Last Ever Performance At Kalemegdan Park, June 18, 2011. Picture: Getty

While she claimed to have quit drugs by 2008, she had instead become addicted to alcohol.

She did enjoy some periods of sobriety, but she would then fall off the wagon. Fielder-Civil filed for divorce in 2009, noting Amy's infidelities.

A new album was hoped for 2010 but never arrived. Apart from a song she recorded with Tony Bennett, she never recorded again.

Amy checked back into rehab in spring 2011, and returned in May with hopes of new music. But sadly, her final performance was a disappointing affair in Belgrade, Serbia in early June.

She was found dead in her home on July 23. Later in the year, the coroner confirmed that she had died of accidental alcohol poisoning, with her blood alcohol level being .416% at the time of her death. This is more than five times the legal limit.

While Amy's life and death was a cautionary tale of the trappings of addiction, her career and undeniable talent will never be forgotten.