Over the past year, British soul singer Amy Winehouse has made as much news for her outrageous offstage behavior as she has for her Grammy-winning music. But, after scandals involving alleged drug abuse,
a reported stay in rehab, notoriously unkempt performances, a trip to jail for her husband on charges of attempting to pervert justice, several arrests on charges ranging from alleged assault to suspicion of drug use and a series of public breakdowns, the latest outrage tied to Winehouse has sparked the biggest response yet in England.
A videotape surfaced over the weekend that appears to show Winehouse and a friend singing a racial-epithet-loaded take on the traditional children's song "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." In the clip, which was reportedly filmed by Winehouse's jailed husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, shortly after the pair's wedding last May, Winehouse and the unidentified friend are seen giggling and singing the lyrics: "Blacks, Pakis, g--ks and n-ps ... and deaf and dumb and blind and gay," while sitting on a couch in a dingy apartment. Fielder-Civil is heard repeatedly promising Winehouse that he is not filming the scene, even going so far as to swear on Winehouse's life that the video camera is not on.
Britain's Daily Mail reported on Monday that Winehouse had apologized for the video — which also appears to show drug paraphernalia on a table in the room where the song is sung. The content of the video was first reported Sunday in the British tabloid News of the World.
The paper reported that upon returning home shortly after 2 a.m. Monday, Winehouse invited some fans into her apartment, but not before holding what was described as an impromptu press conference on her front stoop, during which she reportedly said, "I don't want to play anything down, but I'm the least racist person going." The singer then reportedly slammed the "irresponsible" News of the World for not eliding some of the more inflammatory terms in its report, saying, "I think they should have starred out certain words."
A spokesperson for Winehouse said Monday (June 9) that there was no additional comment on the tape and referred MTV News to the apology that appears in the Daily Mail.
In addition to making racist gestures, including stretching out her eyes at one point, Winehouse is seen later in the video asleep on a sofa in the apartment, with what appears to be more drug paraphernalia on the floor around her. A friend, Eddie, apparently describes the drugs they have taken, telling Fielder-Civil, "a bit of E, a bit of C and a few beers, watched telly, smoked crack." And in another part of the video she turns down Fielder-Civil's request that she perform oral sex on him in the public stairwell of a hotel.
The News of the World also published a number of photos of the couple, including one that purports to show Winehouse holding what looks like a crack pipe and another that appears to depict the couple passing white pills between their lips. According to the tabloid, the series of photos were given to reporters by a close friend of Amy's who intended to show the effect Fielder-Civil has on Winehouse.
Fielder-Civil, 26, who has been in jail for nearly nine months, pleaded guilty last week to committing "grievous bodily harm" in the case in which he was accused of assaulting a pub owner and conspiring to obstruct justice into the investigation of that alleged incident, according to The Associated Press. There is no word yet on the penalty in the case, though Fielder-Civil faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the assault charge. The obstruction charge carries a maximum life sentence, though that is unlikely to be imposed in this case, the AP reported.
The Daily Mail reported on Monday that Winehouse was seen out with her father, Mitch, on Sunday in London's Camden neighborhood, where she reportedly chatted up fans as the racist-tape scandal was brewing. "If people could see the real Amy — the full picture, not just the worst photos — they would realize she is not in a constant pit of misery or permanently drug-addled," her dad reportedly said. "She's upbeat — even jolly — and she's been writing some fantastic new songs. She's really looking forward to performing again. ... She is getting better, working hard, standing by her husband and desperate to have a family. ... I honestly think in two years she will be fit, healthy and having babies — and motherhood will be her drug."
As for the photos that were leaked, including the one that appears to show her with a crack pipe, Amy reportedly said that they were taken during "really, really happy times."