Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What really killed Amy Winehouse was the eating disorder bulimia

Amy Winehouse
Poster by T.A.

What really killed Amy Winehouse 

was the eating disorder bulimia, 

her brother Alex claims



DAISY WYATT 

The underlying cause of Amy Winehouse’s premature death at the age of 27 was the eating disorder bulimia, her brother has claimed.
The singer’s older brother Alex Winehouse, 33, said in an interview that years of suffering from bulimia left Amy “weaker and more susceptible” to the physical impact of her alcohol and drug addictions.
A coroner's verdict recorded that the "Rehab" singer died of “alcohol toxicity” after drinking too much.
“She would have died eventually, the way she was going," Alex told the Observer. "But what really killed her was the bulimia… Had she not had an eating disorder, she would have been physically stronger.”
Bulimia is an eating disorder characterised by episodes of binging followed by self-induced vomiting. Alex claims Amy was a sufferer from her late teens until her death at the age of 27.
“She suffered from bulimia very badly. That’s not, like, a revelation- you knew just by looking at her,” he said.
She was influenced, he said, by her peers, who were “all doing it”, at the age of 17. “They’d put loads of rich sauces on their food, scarf it down and throw it up. They stopped doing it, but Amy never really did,” he said.
Amy, who won five Grammy awards for her breakthrough albumBack to Black, was found dead at her flat in Camden, north London, on 23 July 2011.
An inquest recorded a verdict of misadventure after finding that she had 416mg of alcohol per decilitre in her blood- more than five times the legal drink-drive limit.
Since her death, her father Mitch and her brother Alex have set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which works to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people.
An exhibition of family photographs and objects belonging to the singer has been put together by Mitch and Alex Winehouse at the Jewish Museum in London, opening next month.


Amy Winehouse was killed by bulimia

Amy Winehouse


Amy Winehouse was killed by bulimia, 

not drugs, says her brother

Drink and drugs took their toll but eating disorder fatally weakened Amy, says Alex Winehouse
  • The Observer, 
Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse performing in 2007, four years before her death. “What really killed her was the bulimia,” said Alex Winehouse. Photograph: James McCauley / Rex Features
Amy Winehouse, whose life was dogged by drug and alcohol abuse, was killed by an eating disorder rather than by her addictions, according to her brother.
In his first full-length interview, Alex Winehouse, 33, the singer's older brother, told the Observer Magazine that his sister's long battle with bulimia "left her weaker, and more susceptible". He added: "She would have died eventually, the way she was going, but what really killed her was the bulimia."
Winehouse, who won five Grammy awards for her breakthrough album, Back to Black, died in July 2011 at the age of 27.
An inquest recorded a verdict of misadventure after finding that she had 416mg of alcohol per decilitre in her blood – more than five times the legal drink-drive limit and enough to make her comatose and depress her respiratory system.
According to her brother, who was speaking to mark the opening of an exhibition dedicated to his sister's life at the Jewish Museum in Camden, north London, her system had been fatally weakened by years of bulimia, a disease in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting. "Had she not have had an eating disorder, she would have been physically stronger," he said.
Alex Winehouse revealed that Amy had developed bulimia in her late teens and had never shaken off the illness. He explained that, as a 17-year-old, his sister had a group of friends who "were all doing it. They'd put loads of rich sauces on their food, scarf it down and throw it up. They stopped doing it, but Amy never really stopped. We all knew she was doing it but it's almost impossible [to tackle], especially if you're not talking about it."
According to Beat, the world's largest eating disorders charity, there is a lack of data detailing how many people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder. Although the Department of Health provides hospital episode statistics, these include only those affected by eating disorders who are being treated as NHS inpatients. As a result, the figures omit all those who have not come forward, have not been diagnosed, are receiving private treatment or are being treated as an outpatient or in the community.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) suggests 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder, of whom around 11% are male. More recent research from the NHS, however, suggested up to 6.4% of adults potentially 3.2 million people, display signs of an eating disorder..
It is estimated that, of those with eating disorders, 40% are bulimic. Bulimia is associated with severe medical complications. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. Research has found that 20% of anorexia sufferers will die prematurely.
After Winehouse's death, her family set up a foundation in her name to curb misuse of drug and alcohol by young people. The Amy Winehouse Foundation is run by Alex and his father, Mitch, a singer and former black cab driver.
The charity recently donated money to Beat to enable it to continue running an internet forum with a dedicated moderator.
Alex Winehouse said: "We had to support eating disorder charities because no one talks about it. The situation in this country is that about five or six years ago there were around 10-15 eating disorder charities out there. Now there's only three, one of which is exclusively for young men.
"Beat was in real need of an online forum … so that there's always someone there to talk to. I just want to try to raise awareness of bulimia. It's a real dark, dark issue."



Monday, July 27, 2015

Growing up with my sister Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse

Growing up with my sister Amy Winehouse

As an exhibition opens about her family life, Amy Winehouse's brother Alex talks in his first major interview about the girl who became a superstar – and reveals what he thinks really killed her
    • The Observer, 
Amy outside her Gran's flat
'She was annoying, frustrating, a pain. But she was also incredibly generous, very caring': Amy Winehouse as a teenager outside her grandmother's flat. Photograph: Winehouse Foundation
A few months ago, almost two years after his sister Amy's death at the age of 27, Alex Winehouse was sorting through her possessions and came across a child-size navy blue jumper. The jumper turned out to be part of Amy's old school uniform from Osidge Primary School in Southgate, north London that, unbeknown to her family, she had stowed away carefully for years.
"I couldn't believe she had that," Alex says now, sitting in a sun-streamed room, one leg resting across the other and leaning back in his chair. This is his first ever full-length interview, given to mark the opening of a major new exhibition at the Jewish Museum entitled Amy Winehouse: a Family Portrait. The school jumper, Alex says, is his favourite exhibit.
"I think it shows that it doesn't matter what happens in life, how famous you become, regardless of who you are, you're always from somewhere," he explains. "No matter what you do, you can't forget that because it makes you who you are. And she never forgot. It was very reassuring to see that for me."
There is a photograph of the two Winehouse siblings from that time. It shows Alex, the elder by four years, with a protective arm around his little sister's shoulders. Amy, not yet 10, has her chin cocked towards the camera, displaying even then a defiant kind of confidence.
To the outside world, the name Amy Winehouse went on to become synonymous with both talent and tragedy. She lived her life out in the full glare of the public spotlight and then she died in July 2011 after an alcohol binge, three years shy of her 30th birthday. She was renowned for her husky contralto vocals and her ability to fuse the classic melodies of soul, jazz and R&B, making them relevant to a modern audience. In her short career, she won many awards, including a Brit, three Novellos and six Grammys. Her second album, Back to Black, is currently the UK's best-selling album of the 21st century.

Amy in stripy sweatshirt
Amy in stripy sweatshirt at home as a youngster. Photograph: Winehouse Foundation
In style terms, too, Winehouse redefined what we came to expect of a pop star. Instead of being primped and packaged as a teen-market popstrel, she had a towering beehive, heavy eyeliner and a fondness for leopard-print and tattoos. Karl Lagerfeld claimed her as his new muse in 2007 and sent beehived models down the Chanel catwalk; French Voguededicated a whole fashion story to her look and hundreds of girls bought a version of her style on the high street.
But there was, of course, a darker side to Amy Winehouse: a trail of disturbing media stories and paparazzo images tracked her painful disintegration. Photos appeared of her on London streets, tear-stained and with bleeding feet, or with badly bruised legs. The lattice of scars on her arms from a period of self-harm and cutting in her teens were often visible. Her drink and drug abuse was well-documented. In 2008, a tabloid newspaper published a video that appeared to show her smoking crack cocaine. Over the years, she was in and out of rehab.
For much of HER LIFE, it seemed as if we knew everything about her. But the exhibition will reveal a different, more intimate side. And for Alex Winehouse, she will always just be his little sister, which is why that school jumper meant so much to him. It was a reminder of what she had been, before the madness spiralled out of control, before the world claimed her as a celebrity and her addictions destroyed her.
"Do you have a sister?" he asks me when I wonder what Amy was like. I nod. "Then you'll know. She was annoying, frustrating, a pain in the bum. But she was also incredibly generous, very caring. She'd do anything for anyone, she really would. She was loyal – as a sister, daughter and friend. She was probably the most loyal friend to people I've ever known." Later, he adds: "She was a really good person. And horrible in other respects."
The exhibition will include several of her personal effects and items of clothing and will also trace the Winehouse ancestry back generations to those who emigrated to London from Russia and Poland in the late 19th century.
The aim, says Alex, is to portray his sister "as a normal person and us as a normal family" and to show how Amy was influenced by an ingrained Jewish identity. Their parents, Mitch and Janis, who divorced when Alex was 13 and Amy was nine, brought them up with an appreciation of the faith's rituals and rites of passage. As adults, neither of the siblings was particularly religious, but they felt culturally Jewish – Amy was famously meant to have cooked chicken soup for her bodyguards.
"She made it once for me," says Alex, screwing up his face in distaste. "It was awful."

Alex Winehouse
'We took different paths': a portrait of Alex Winehouse with Amy's guitar. Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Observer
Is there a part of him that sees the exhibition as a means of reclaiming the sister he knew, rather than the pop star fame created?
"I don't think you can," Alex says after a moment's thought. "I don't think that's possible. I'm not really fussed about how she's perceived because I know the truth… That's more important than what people think."
Alex Winehouse has never before spoken publicly in depth about his sister. At the height of her fame and throughout the shambolic latter years of her life, he stayed under the radar. He says he wanted to be a refuge for her from the strangeness of her celebrity – he describes visiting Amy occasionally at her Camden flat and seeing banks of photographers camped outside.
"She was pretty much shut in the house and couldn't go anywhere," he remembers. "I'd go home, back to normality. She didn't have that. The interest that they had in her was absolutely insane. She didn't want it but her every moment was covered in the press."
Part of him, too, feels that his recollections of Amy are "no one's business, because there's a lot of dramas associated with her and that still goes on. If I'm going to speak, it's because I – or we, the foundation – are doing something really, really cool. I'm not going to talk for the sake of talking."
The Amy Winehouse Foundation, set up by her family in the wake of her death, works to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people. A schools programme launched in March by the foundation has already made substantial donations to various charities. Alex, who gave up his job as an online music journalist to work full-time for the foundation with his father, a former black-cab driver, says the experience has brought the family closer together. In the aftermath of Amy's death, Alex explains, "Dad had two choices – he could either let it destroy him, or use Amy's memory to invigorate himself to do something good."
But after so many years not talking, there is a part of Alex that finds it difficult to change the habit. He chooses his words carefully and seems determined not to show too much emotion. He prefers humour to introspection. When he talks about going to hospital when Amy was born in 1983 and being given his baby sister to hold, he says: "She smelled and I didn't like it. She stank. It was that milky, newborn smell and I just thought, 'I don't like the smell, I don't like you. Why are you in my house?'"
He laughs. Did it get better after that?
"Eventually," he says drily. "Took a while though."

Amy at Glastonbury Festival 2008 Day 2
Back in black: Amy performing at Glastonbury in 2008 wearing the Luella Bartley dress. Photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images
There is a sense that he doesn't want to come across as overly sentimental or – worse – risk cheapening his own, private memories by giving them up for public consumption.
And yet Alex is also extremely honest. When I ask if he ever listens to her music, now he shakes his head and admits, a touch shamefacedly, that her songs were "not really my taste… I'm more of a rocker than she was." And when I touch on the notion that, however much he loved her, it must have been extremely difficult at times being her brother and seeing her so hell-bent on self-destruction, he doesn't flinch.
"Of course. Dad says it all the time: there's only so much you can do. You can be there on the phone, you can go and see them and things, but ultimately, it's your own responsibility and if the person has no interest in getting better, then there really isn't much you can do. You've got to live your own life as well or it will destroy you as much as the other person."
Alex has had time to reflect on what triggered Amy's spiral into drink and drugs, but hasn't come to any clear conclusion other than "we took different paths". He describes himself as "a worrier" and "an anxious child". By contrast, "Amy wasn't like that. She had no limits."
Many of her problems predated her sudden rise to fame. She developed bulimia in her late teens and the eating disorder dogged her for the rest of her life. Alex remembers her at the age of 17 hanging out with a group of girls who "were all doing it. They'd put loads of rich sauces on their food, scarf it down and throw it up. They stopped doing it, but Amy never really did… We all knew she was doing it, but it's almost impossible [to tackle] especially if you're not talking about it. It's a real dark, dark issue.
"She suffered from bulimia very badly. That's not, like, a revelation – you knew just by looking at her… She would have died eventually, the way she was going, but what really killed her was the bulimia… Absolutely terrible."
What does he mean by that? "I think that it left her weaker and more susceptible. Had she not had an eating disorder, she would have been physically stronger."
Emotionally fragile as she was, Alex says his sister never consciously courted media attention. "All she wanted to be was a singer and have a good career and that was it really. It [the attention] was slightly out of whack with what she was. She won the Brit in 2007 and no one knew who she was before that. I remember bumping into her on the tube once and she was on her own. Then, all of a sudden, that was it. In the space of one evening she'd gone from being able to do whatever she wanted to not being able to do that ever again."
The drugs and the alcohol, then, were perhaps a way of attempting to deal with the pressure of living a life in the constant public gaze. When she married former music video runner Blake Fielder-Civil in 2007, he introduced her to heroin and her problems got markedly worse (the couple divorced in 2009 and Fielder-Civil subsequently served a prison sentence after stealing money to buy drugs). On her darkest days, Winehouse could be a nightmare to be around. Most of the time, Alex bit his tongue. But when she got "really drunk" and ruined his 30th birthday party, he gave her "the bollocking of a lifetime".
"The problem with being [famous] is – how many people tell you 'No'? No one does. I was furious. She was head-butting people, but she's only little, she's tiny so it's like swatting away a fly, but it was no good. I had a go at her, threw out some home truths. She knew how I felt and she didn't scream back at me."
Did she ever apologise for her behaviour? He grins as if this is an absurd question. "No."
Did she ever say sorry for any of it, for all the things she put her family through? "Of course not."
And yet, for all the harm she had done to herself, her death, when it came, was truly shocking. Alex was called up by his father with the news. For a while afterwards, the reality of her absence "didn't really sink in". As a journalist himself, he was struck by the strangeness of the fact that instead of writing stories about other people, he was now in the epicentre of one of the biggest news stories in the country – and it concerned the death of his sister.
"I had two hats on at that point. The journalist's hat, where I was telling myself to be calm, to assess the situation, don't get emotional. And the brother hat, where I was looking at the flowers, the tributes, the street signs that people had signed."
The outpouring of public grief in the days after Amy's death was, Alex says, "really pretty amazing."
"Obviously, she touched something in a lot of people and, yeah, it was very strange. We had to go to the flat and all the flowers, I mean…" He breaks off and closes his eyes for several seconds as he continues to speak. "You see those things on the telly, but it's always for things that have got nothing to do with you. This was, like, a personal thing… Yeah, it was incredible."
He found the hardest part was having to sit shiva, the week-long mourning period in Judaism for first-degree relatives after burial.
"You can't shave, you can't change your clothes. You do prayers. I was sitting in a chair and people came to pay their respects and you're not supposed to say anything back. At my age, that shouldn't be happening. That's something that happens when old people die. People sitting shiva should be in their 70s and 80s, they shouldn't be 31 years old and certainly not a 31-year-old who is sitting shiva for his 27-year-old sister… I can't really describe it, it's a horrible feeling."
He stays silent for a moment. Then, quickly, he regains his natural equilibrium. We end up chatting about football, his recent move to the countryside with his wife, Riva, and how his work at the foundation is "easily the best thing I've ever done". He talks about his earliest memories – visiting his great-grandfather in the East End on Commercial Street where he still lived after years working as a tailor. Alex is, understandably, more relaxed discussing these areas of his life. The loss of his sister, he says, "is always there" but, at the same time, he needs to get on with living.
What would Amy have made of this exhibition, I wonder? Alex chuckles. "She would have hated it." He shrugs his shoulders. "She would have been…" He assumes her voice, high-pitched and bemused: "'It's just me, why do you want an exhibition?'"
Amy Winehouse: a Family Portrait opens at the Jewish Museum in London on 3 July (jewishmuseum.org.uk). For information on the Amy Winehouse Foundation, go to amywinehousefoundation.org




Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why the Amy Winehouse film is little better than the paps who hounded her

Amy Winehouse
Poster by T.A.

Why the Amy Winehouse film is little better than the paps who hounded her

BIOGRAPHY

Asif Kapadia’s documentary, which chronicled Winehouse’s turbulent and brief life, walks a thin line between insight and exploitation

Ruby Lott-Lavigna
Wednesday 22 July 2015 15.44 BST


In our image-saturated culture, where we sit drooling at our computer screens hungry for the latest bit of celebrity gossip, it’s no wonder that we are all fascinated by the Amy Winehouse story. Graphic and upsetting in equal measure, the narrative of the talented yet troubled artist who struggles to reconcile her artistic ambitions with society’s demand for celebrity satisfies our hunger on all counts. Just like a car crash, we want to look away but we simply can’t.
If you think I’m being disrespectful in reducing an upsetting story of self-destruction into a bite-sized bit of gossip then I would have to agree with you. 
Unfortunately, this seems to be the attitude of the new documentary Amy, which compiles personal footage and talking heads to canonise Winehouse. Critics have applauded it – Mark Kermode calling it a “sober, unsensational and overwhelmingly sad film” and Robbie Collin from The Daily Telegraph “piercingly sad and honourable film” – seemingly to focus on the heart-wrenching nature of the story and empathise with the subject rather than the form.

Amy Winehouse


Crucially, all the critics seem to overlook the film’s exploitative lens: a lens that lingers on intimate images of Winehouse gaunt and high, or on the shocking footage of her body being removed from her Camden home in a body bag. One that leers at her bulimia-wrecked form or even more questionably, uses paparazzi footage in the same breath as explaining how being hounded by the press drove her closer to breaking point. The documentary lacks a voice, supplementing this void with a tabloid-esque scrapbook timeline transposed to screen. Using personal footage and amateurishly inscribing her lyrics across the stage as she sings them, it is reminiscent of a fan-made YouTube video. The documentary seems to lack any moral control, instead stacking one image of a drunken Winehouse on top of another, gradually effacing its own credibility.
The reluctance to call out the film for being tragedy porn misplaces the sensitivity we should feel when dealing with the Winehouse story. I’m unsure why the reviews fail to address it: probably as a result of conflating respect for Winehouse with respect for the film. In fact, I think the inverse should be true here – anyone who wishes to be considerate of the posthumous star and her family should strongly question the film. Indeed, how can anyone familiar with the story feel comfortable watching footage of her in such vulnerable condition? It is footage that contributes nothing aesthetically or narratively to the film, working only to accentuate the shock factor.
Amy poses important questions about the way we memorialise artists, and indeed, whether gender plays a part in the way we remember them, or even deal with them when they’re alive. Part of me would have felt better consuming something that gave the graphic imagery a value, though this in itself is not watertight ethically. Why is it acceptable to show images of Winehouse slurring her lyrics on stage high or drunk or both, under the guise of art?
The truth is, I felt no artistic catharsis to justify the images I saw. Instead, I was left feeling uncomfortable, ashamed that I’d been complicit in the tabloid culture that in part pushed Winehouse into exactly the darkness that the film attempted to document.

THE GUARDIAN

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Amy Winehouse / Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby

Amy Winehouse unpublished 2004 interview: ‘Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby’

The singer listed her life ambitions in an early interview conducted a decade ago

ELLA ALEXANDER 
SUNDAY 20 JULY 2014


Amy Winehouse detailed her dreams to have children in a previously unpublished 2004 interview.

“Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby,” she said.

“I’ll have out my second album and a couple of concept EPs, and my real honest music will be saved up for the big albums.”

The feature never ran in the targeted weekend magazine because the editor thought Winehouse would never amount to anything. She had released her debut album, Frank, only a few months before, which went was certified double platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry for sales of more than two million copies in Europe alone.

Winehouse died on 23 July 2011, aged 27 of alcohol poisoning, following a period of abstinence. She battled with drug addiction throughout the last few years of her life, regularly using heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis, but quit them in 2000.


“Oh I do see myself settling down, getting married and having kids,” she continued. “But when I think about a family life in the future there’s rarely a man involved which is kind of weird.

“I think I’d be a good mum, well, I hope so. I hope I won’t be a shit mum. When I have kids I want to have loads of them, at least five. I’ll always work from home and have a studio in my house.

“I imagine I’m recording downstairs in my basement and the kids come down looking for their mummy then they’ll pretend to sing into the microphone and it’ll be cute.“




The singer also discussed her childhood and her infamous rebellious streak.



"I wasn’t a tearaway but I definitely wouldn’t conform to anything,” she said.

“I was bad with authority and didn’t want to be told what to do. I’ve never been an idiot – I was a smart girl but I’d do stupid things like go around Asda and nick stuff because my friends told me to. I was a good girl as a teenager.“

She was also asked how she’d like to be remembered – and, although tragic, her wishes came true.

"I’d like to be remembered as someone who wasn’t satisfied with just one level of musicianship… as someone who was a pioneer,” she said. “I’ve got all this time to make that happen, that’s what’s so exciting. I’ve got years to do music."


THE INDEPENDENT



Friday, July 24, 2015

Amy Winehouse / In her own words


Amy Winehouse: in her own words

BIOGRAPHY


In a previously unseen interview from 2006, Amy Winehouse shared her love for Sarah Vaughan, gospel music and the Shangri-Las – as well as recalling her first big break

  • Amy Winehouse and her brother Alex
Amy Winehouse and her brother Alex

On her musical evolution

When I was younger, I didn't really listen to a lot of soul. But in the last year I got really into Motown girl groups. I liked Otis Redding from 14 or 15, but I listened to hip-hop and jazz for so many years. It goes jazz, soul, Motown, then hip-hop. Obviously, I've gone in the middle.

On gospel

I've been listening to a lot of gospel singers like Mahalia Jackson andAretha Franklin. I love gospel, because gospel is so truthful. You know, I'm not religious, but there is nothing more pure than the relationship you have with your God – there is nothing stronger than that apart from your love of music. Gospel is very inspirational.

On Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington

Ella Fitzgerald knew how to carry a tune, but to me she's just like a lot of other people. You can hear her and go: that's Ella Fitzgerald, but it's not like she stood out. Sarah Vaughan is one of my favourite singers of all time. She was an instrument. I've heard one record, it's like a humming solo, and she sounds like a reed instrument – like a clarinet. I came to Sarah Vaughan later: I was about 18. And I learned to sing from Dinah Washington, and from stuff like [Thelonious] Monk. It wasn't just the vocal jazz – I learned from everything, really.

On her brother's music collection

My brotherwas listening to stuff like Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam and Therapy, really, like, I-want-to-die bands. I had a really brief flirtation with that, but I must have been nine – and then I discovered Salt-n-Pepaand I was like: I've got my music now. He started listening to jazz when he was about 18 and I was 14. I just remember the first time I ever heard[Monk's] Around Midnight, through the wall. I was just like: what is that? And I remember the first time I heard Ray Charles. It was Unchain My Heart. I remember walking into my brother's room. I always used to knock because he would throw stuff at you if you didn't. But I opened the door and he goes, what? He looked at me as if I was about to go, "Mum's dead" or something (touch wood). He goes what's wrong and I went: "Who is this?" And he went: "It's Ray Charles." Then I just listened to Ray Charles for three months, exclusively.

On her first break

I did one gig as a singer for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, which everyone has come through or goes through at some point. That was my first and last gig, because my manager came and said, "We'll give you loads of studio time - just go in and play guitar and write songs." And I was like: thanks, why? And he was like you're going to make an album and then I'm going to get you signed and everything. So it was cool. A couple of months ago, I did a massive opening for a casino. I'd go out with just my piano player and we would do jazz all night. Or sometimes there are these Russian bankers that really like me because I'm a Russian Jew. They always book me if they are in town, and we do jazz for them. We don't do my stuff.

On the Shangri-Las

I love the drama, I love the atmosphere, I love the sound effects. And they wrote the most depressing song ever: I Can Never Go Home Anymore. When me and my boyfriend finished, I used to listen to that song on repeat, just sitting on my kitchen floor with a bottle of Jack Daniel's. I'd pass out, wake up and do it again. My flatmate used to come in, leave bags of KFC and just leave. She'd be like: there's your dinner, I'm going out. It's the saddest song in the world.
This is an edited extract from a previously unbroadcast interview, recorded at the Other Voices festival in Dingle in 2006. Amy Winehouse: The Day She Came to Dingle, an Arena documentary for BBC4, will be broadcast at 10pm tonight.

• This article was amended on 31 July 2012. The original misspelled Thelonious Monk's first name as Thelonius. This has been corrected.



Amy Winehouse remembered by Mark Ronson

Amy Winehouse
by Bryan Adams

Amy Winehouse remembered 

by Mark Ronson

She was one of those magical people who burn more brightly than the rest of us…
Best friends: Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse perform at The Brit awards in 2008. Photograph: Mark Allan/WireImage
It sounds creepy, but I used to love going to visit Amy at the London Clinic. Every now and then she'd get tired of the drink and she'd check herself into this private hospital about five minutes' taxi from Camden. It was her way of cleaning up, on her own terms, without having to go to rehab.
She'd go in. I'd call her. "Where are you?" "I'm in the clinic, getting dry." "Oh, um, sorry to hear it." "What are you sorry about? I'm the idiot who got myself into this state." And that was her attitude towards it. She had little time for emotions like pity anyway; she only liked the big ones: Love, Heartbreak, Death, etc. Once in, she'd make these miraculously speedy recoveries. It didn't matter how messed up she'd been for the past however long, how slurred her words had been when I had run into her just three days earlier. Day 2 in that place and it was the old Amy again, the Amy that I had met five years ago. She had her brilliant mind back, her razor-sharp wit, and a warmth, a beautiful lovingness that was sometimes obscured in the depths of abuse. I would hang out in her room there for hours and not ever want to leave, like a sleepover at your best friend's house when you're 13 years old.
I introduced her to the TV show Arrested Development and we'd watch seven episodes in a row and she'd impersonate the bumbling character Gob, while whirring around her hospital room on an imaginary Segway (you know, that weird space-scooter that all grown-ups look ridiculous on). I'd mention in passing that I had a problem with my foot and she would ring a bell and demand a visit from the clinic's head of podiatry, and, embarrassed, I would remove my sock and show him my three-year-old verruca.
I would urge her not to smoke but she'd somehow manage to convince me to stand lookout while she snuck a cigarette behind some locked fire door, next to some huge generator with a giant flaming hazard sign on it, that looked liked it could have gone up like Hiroshima if she had flicked ash on it.
She could charm you into doing ridiculous things. There are people on this earth (they certainly don't have to be famous) and they're just a bit more magical than the rest of us. And you want to be around them because the magic rubs off a bit, and you feel a bit more special when they're around. My best friend, Max, died about five years ago. And he had that same effect on people. Maybe the magical ones burn a bit brighter than the rest of us, so they don't get to be here as long. Either way, it sucks when they go.
Looking back on it now, it's obvious to me that the main reason I enjoyed spending time with Amy in that clinic was because it was so full of hope. In my mind, thinking, "Great, she's sober and this time it's for good. This is how it's always going to be, just like when we met." It was an incredibly naive and somewhat selfish dream which removed anything she was going through emotionally and physically from the scenario. Nevertheless, it was a dream I would happily buy into each time she checked herself in there.
I get annoyed now thinking of all the extra time I could have spent in there with her but didn't, maybe because I was hanging out with some girl or spending too much time in the studio, because being in that hospital room with Amy were some of the most magical times we ever had.