Fans honour Amy Winehouse in London decade after her death
Fans remembered British singer Amy Winehouse on Friday, paying tribute outside her former home in the London borough of Camden on the 10th anniversary of her death.
Well-wishers made the pilgrimage to the north London property and created a shrine replete with messages, flowers, balloons and pictures as Winehouse’s songs played in the background.
“I’ll never grow tired of listening to her music,” said pensioner Alan Trivette, 66, who was wearing a shirt emblazoned with Winehouse’s face and the words “Queen of Camden”.
“She’s the most talented singer-songwriter of her generation. Every time I hear her voice, it sends a tingle down my spine,” he said.
Followers also paid their respects at a nearby bronze statue of Winehouse, with a red rose placed at its feet in the soul singer’s trademark beehive hair style to mark the anniversary of her death at her Camden home in 2011.
The star’s untimely death from alcohol poisoning after years battling addiction and an eating disorder added her name to the so-called “27 club”, a group of talented but troubled artists whose lives were cut short at the same age.
Ravi Vyas, 26, left pink, red and yellow roses by the feet of the statue — a life-sized depiction of the diminutive singer — and recalled sobbing bitterly when she died.
“Now, after 10 years, it’s my moment to pay my condolences,” the Camden local told AFP.
– ‘Dream talent’ –
The Jazz After Dark bar in central London, often frequented by Winehouse, is now a portrait gallery in her honour thanks to owner and artist Sam Shaker.
Paintings of her fill the walls alongside several photos of Shaker posing with Winehouse, who called him a “second dad” and invited celebrities including Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and George Clooney to the premises.
“All she ate was chicken wings, meatballs and tomato salsa. She never used a knife and fork — her face was full of tomato,” said Shaker, 70.
A small VIP lounge furnished with plush red cushions and sofas gave Winehouse somewhere to shelter from intrusive fans and paparazzi and work on her music.
“Amy always trusted me to protect her. We were here to defend Amy with our life,” Shaker said.
“I was dreaming to find a talent like Amy. In 100 years, everybody will remember her songs.”
– ‘Unique’ –
The anniversary of the “Back to Black” and “Rehab” singer’s death has inspired fans to look back at her short but impactful career.
It was characterised by her distinct jazz style — which contrasted heavily with the pop music of the time — and her destructive relationship with alcohol and drugs.
“Looking at her fall has made us realise that we’re all humans and need to treat each other with respect,” Vyas said.
“I want people to remember her as someone who represents Camden, the jazz girl who made it big,” the health technology manager said.
Cairo-born Shaker added: “She needed someone to look after her, not use her like a goose laying golden eggs, take her money, abuse her.”
The 10th anniversary has also provoked introspection over Winehouse’s memory, which had been shaped by the tabloid narrative surrounding her drinking, drug use and relationship with ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil.
“She’s remembered as this drug addict — that’s not how we should remember her at all,” 16-year-old student Reece Fielding said.
“We should remember her for her talent, style, attitude that no-one else dared to have.
“When I go through rough patches, I like to listen to her music, it helps me and sums up how I’m feeling. Her music is unique.”