Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment Saturday (July 23), her publicist confirmed to target="_blank">CNN. The U.K. singer was 27 years old.
A press release from Metropolitan Police does not specify Winehouse by name, but reads: “Police were called by London Ambulance Service to an address in Camden Square NW1 shortly before 16.05 hours today, Saturday 23 July, following reports of a woman found deceased. On arrival officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene. Inquiries continue into the circumstances of death. At this early stage it is being treated as unexplained.”
Winehouse canceled her European tour last month, and has long struggled with substance abuse.
On June 18, Winehouse performed the first show of that European tour at Forest Fest in Belgrade, Serbia, but things went terribly wrong. The Brit songstress reportedly showed up more than an hour late and then once there, she repeatedly left the stage mid-performance. Winehouse forgot lyrics to her songs and even dropped the mic as a disgruntled crowd of 20,000 booed her set. After the show, she canceled festival appearances in Turkey and Greece.
Apart from her touring plans, Winehouse was also reportedly working on the follow-up to her award-winning Back to Black, but a concrete release date for the album was never established.
Earlier Saturday, Winehouse’s management team released a statement confirming she was pulling out of all gigs to concentrate on her recovery: “Amy Winehouse is withdrawing from all scheduled performances. Everyone involved wishes to do everything they can to help her return to her best and she will be given as long as it takes for this to happen.”Read what Rihanna, Usher and more said about Winehouse on Twitter.
Amy Jade Winehouse, born September 14, 1983, exploded onto the U.K. scene in 2003 with her debut album, Frank, which was nominated for the Mercury Prize, the award given to the year’s best British or Irish album. After a string of well-received festival gigs and an Ivor Novello songwriting award, she began work on the album that would make her an international star: Back to Black, released Stateside in 2007.
Teaming with producers Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson (and the New-York based Dap Kings ensemble), Winehouse crafted a sound that was heavily indebted to the girl groups of the 1950s and ’60s and, when combined with her smoky vocals and towering beehive hairstyle, served as a welcome antidote to the electronic-based pop music of the day. Buoyed by the success of iconic single “Rehab” — and Winehouse’s near-constant coverage in the tabloids — Back To Black became a worldwide phenomenon, topping the charts in the U.K. (where it would be the year’s best-selling album) and earning Winehouse five Grammys, including Record and Song of the Year and Best New Artist.
Following the success of Back to Black, Winehouse toured the world, and began a star-crossed (and much-covered) relationship with a former video-production assistant named Blake Fielder-Civil. Around the same time, several media outlets began reporting extensively on the couple’s drug use and, in 2008, Fielder-Civil served time in prison after an altercation with a bar owner. During this period, Winehouse also had several run-ins with the law, including a 2007 arrest for possession of marijuana in Bergen, Norway, a “common assault” charge in early 2008 and, most famously, a May 2008 arrest stemming from a video of her smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine. She avoided jail time in each instance but, at the urging of her father, the singer made several attempts to get clean, repeatedly checking herself into rehabilitation facilities. Her last stint in rehab reportedly took place in May of 2011.
During all of this, Winehouse had also begun working on the follow-up to Back to Black, heading to the island of St. Lucia with Remi to record tracks. In July 2010, Winehouse made a surprise appearance at a Ronson show in London, flubbing the lines to the producer’s song “Valerie.” A few days later, she told the U.K.’s Metro newspaper that the new album was due in January and would follow in the footsteps of Black’s retro leanings.
She recorded a version of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” for legendary producer Quincy Jones’ Q: Soul Bossa Nostra album, and was also tapped to sing with Tony Bennett on his upcoming Duets II album, which is due in September.
In the hours following her death, Winehouse’s American record label, Universal Republic, said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened at the sudden loss of such a gifted musician, artist and performer. Our prayers go out to Amy’s family, friends and fans at this difficult time.”
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