Having never met Amy Winehouse, I can't tell you any anecdotes*, nor take credit for any of the photos in this tribute - apart from doing some painterly things to the last shot in this post. While looking around online for images and youtube videos, I found that most of the images of Amy Winehouse were.. exploitive. Catching her looking bad, out of it... you can do that with anyone, you know. I've shot people and caught them in half blink and they don't look great. For someone who lived her light in the spotlight, it seemed the hunger for her looking her worst was.. oh it's just so sad. The whole thing.
*(But Russell Brand did: and he told it beautifully, here, as just retweeted by a friend).
She was only 27: it seemed she was around so long, and had disappeared from public view for so long, but like other stars who burned brightly, and briefly, she seemed to cram a lot of living into such a short time (did you know that everyone who died young - Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Kobain, Jim Morrison.. ALL 27). We always knew she wouldn't last forever, although we hoped she would - which is perhaps why her vulnerability mixed with her seeming toughness to make something that was so tragic, but also quite beautiful. And her taste in music, her friendship with the brilliant producer Mark Ronson, the musicians she worked with..
It wasn't just her talent: she also had such a strong brand. Was she a style icon? I can't tell. She wasn't a role model, like an Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe or Jackie Kennedy.. but the way she took certain iconic ideas of the Sixties Motown girls.. the big eyeliner, bee hive hair, but it certainly wasn't period dressing. The shorts, tees.. what can I say. She was her own person. The love child of Diana Ross and Billie Holiday. I'd have loved to see her do a remake of Lady Sings the Blues.
My last video for this little tribute is, ironically, from a concert sponsored by our new, current, all time favourite phone company, Vodaphone. We can't sing Vodaphone's praises enough. And it was at Somerset House: home to London Fashion Week. This is what Freja, who uploaded the video, said:
"Amy Winehouse live performance "Back To Black", Vodafone Somerset House, 2007. She was sober, sounded amazing, and this is really impressive and amazing performance. She insert a part of Shangri - Las song "Remember (Walking In The Sand)" during the song, as she often does."
Someone wrote that she said if she died today, she'd be happy. No regrets, coyote.
And I've just discovered: this North London, white, Jewish, middle class girl's birthday was the day after mine.
Rest in Peace, Amy, though I have a hunch you're still giving them hell, wherever you are. In a voice that's a gift from God.
Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011)