There are plenty of music icons whose posthumous careers easily rival their popularity in life. From Jimi Hendrix to the Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur and Whitney Houston, the deaths of some of music’s biggest stars have been followed with a post-passing surge in record sales, releases of unheard material, biopics, books, live CDs and DVDs and endless repackaging of their career highlights.
The “Rehab” star, who died in her north London apartment on July 23, 2011, at the age of 27 from accidental alcohol poisoning, experienced a major sales boost of her two studio albums, Frank and 2006 breakthrough Back to Black in the weeks after her death.
Black sold more than 126,000 copies in the two months following Winehouse’s passing, while a posthumous album of studio outtakes, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, has moved close to 423,000 physical and digital copies to date, according to figures provided by Nielsen SoundScan.
Though her father, Mitch Winehouse, has said there may be enough material left over to put together yet another posthumous album, unlike stars such as Michael Jackson , Tupac, Biggie, Elvis and Hendrix, Amy was a decidedly unprolific artist who recorded few tracks that haven’t already been heard or released.
Her struggles with drugs and alcohol and a chaotic personal life endlessly delayed sessions for a long-in-the-works third studio album. Like late Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain, Winehouse left behind a paucity of high-quality studio recordings to exploit, meaning that fans may have to make do with live albums and other odds-and-sods compilations before the well quickly runs dry.
With little music to go on, the richest vein of posthumous material might come from stories of Winehouse’s wild life.
Father Mitch Winehouse has already shared his memories of Amy in the touching memoir, “Amy, My Daughter,” but it’s not yet clear if some of the singer’s former lovers will come forward with their own tales. Reg Traviss, 35, who was dating Amy for more than a year when she died could pull back the curtain on the star’s final months if he puts pen to paper.
But the more licentious tales could come from her ex-husband, Blake Civil-Fielder, with whom Winehouse got into a number of drug and legal scrapes during their chaotic time together.
Winehouse’s legacy will march on thanks to the Amy Winehouse Foundation set up by her family, which will raise money for young people dealing with poverty, addiction and other personal issues. The first annual Amy Winehouse Inspiration Awards will take place on October 11 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.
The family has also said they would consider a warts-and-all biopic, though plans for that film don’t appear to have advanced beyond the talking stage.
Though her singing influenced a generation of up-and-coming and now-established female singers from Adele and Cher Lloyd to Florence Welch, Lana Del Rey and goddaughter Dionne Bromfield, sadly, Amy’s millions of fans will likely have to make do with the three-dozen or so tracks she left behind and memories of a star whose flame burned white hot, but much too briefly.