So Talented, So Tortured, She Craved Oblivion

Her father Mitch remembers that when she was a child, Amy Winehouse used to pretend to be choking, or deliberately go missing in London’s Brent Cross shopping centre ‘just to get a laugh out of it’.

‘What she really likes,’ said Mitch, ‘is for people to worry about her.’

And worry about her people did. The past few years have been agonising to watch as the vulnerable singer so publicly played out her descent into a drug and alcohol-ravaged hell.

The tragic conclusion came on Saturday in the big home she bought with the £10million fortune from her ruined yet spectacular career.

Her father insisted only a few weeks ago that she was a recovering addict and had been clean of drugs for 18 months. What is clear, though, is that this prodigiously talented young woman had been recklessly seeking oblivion for some time.

The experience inspired the writing of her definitive album, Back To Black, released in 2006. The song Rehab came about because Fuller, who soon quit as her manager, wanted her to go to rehab and she sang to producer Mark Ronson: ‘I said no, no, no.’ Within a few hours they had written the song.

By now, she and Blake were embarking on a folie a deux of drugs, drama and jealousy. She dropped four dress sizes in a matter of months, but blamed the stresses of touring and promotion. She admitted she was existing on no more than two hours of sleep a night and said: ‘When you do a show, your adrenaline is so high you have to smoke or drink yourself down, or go out.’

She entered rehab briefly in 2006 – then in May 2007 she married Blake while on a promotional trip to Miami.

She wanted to be loved

She had not told her mother Janis that they were planning to marry, and Mitch – who did know – had begged her not to do it. Amy was deliriously happy. ‘Every day is like a honeymoon, being married to the best man in the world,’ she said.

Three weeks later she nearly died from an overdose, and was taken to hospital. She began to cancel gig after gig. When she did turn up, her performances started to become erratic.

She and Blake had a terrible row in Soho and were photographed, wild-eyed, at 4.30am. Her pink ballet pumps were stained with blood, apparently from injecting heroin between her toes.

She went into the Priory, briefly. Her mother said she was playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with her health and her talent, and added: ‘She won’t stop until she sees the point of stopping.’ Blake’s mother said she thought the pair were killing each other.

At her lowest point in 2008, she was filmed smoking crack using a home-made bong. Blake, who admitted he had introduced her to the drug, was jailed that July for his part in a bar fight.

Amy went to St Lucia for a holiday over the Christmas of 2008, and extended that stay for a year and a half. In this period she appeared to wean herself off heroin and crack, although she continued to self-harm – saying the pain helped her with the withdrawal. She reassessed her relationship with Blake, saying: ‘The whole marriage was based on drugs.’

Her label Universal was desperate for its fragile star to make music, flying out a producer and creating a studio. It seems she failed to lay down anything which it wanted to release and nothing of these sessions has been released.

Unwashed and barefoot, she was seen drinking heavily – six shots of tequila for breakfast – and drinking all day. She was taken to hospital several times.

At one point, guests at Le Sport hotel saw her crawling on all fours, in search of drinks. She was lonely. Mitch went out to see her but left, saying that only she could make herself get well again. Five days later she was back in hospital again, with chest pains.

Her mother Janis said they had to stand back. ‘It’s another demon she has to beat. She came off drugs on her own, so I know she’ll stop drinking so much, too. It has to be her decision, though. No one else can stop her.’

Then Blake got another girl pregnant, and he and Amy began the process of getting a divorce. However as recently as January 2010 she was still talking to anyone who would listen about wanting to have a baby with him.

She desperately wanted to be loved. But as her addiction to alcohol continued, her health problems multiplied. She was in the early stages of emphysema, but continued to smoke cigarettes. But it was her love of vodka which was so disturbing. No one who went out with Amy had ever seen anyone drink so much, so fast.

Mick Jagger, who sang with her, said: ‘Everyone goes through this sort of thing when they become very famous. Hopefully Amy will come out the other side.’ But for her, there was no rescue. Mail Online