“Rehab” singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment today. The cause has not yet been determined. For those who have followed her longstanding battle with depression, eating disorders and substance abuse (a constant source of fodder for tabloids), this sad news may not come as a huge surprise. In August of 2007, Amy came close to death after overdosing on a cocktail of heroin, ecstasy and cocaine – and later that year was found wondering barefoot outside in nothing but a bra and jeans. These incidents were preceded by Amy’s marriage in May of 2007 to Blake Fielder-Civil, who was quoted by a British tabloid as saying he introduced Amy to heroin and crack cocaine. Earlier that same year, Amy performed for VH1 Unplugged. Blake and Amy divorced in 2009.
The singer dominated the 2008 Grammys with five awards for Back to Black, her sophomore album, winning in the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Known for her singular voice and unorthodox retro look (tattoos, extreme cat-eye makeup and beehive hairdo), Amy is said to have paved the way for artists who wouldn’t previously have fit into the mainstream. Lady Gaga, for one, famously told AOL: “Because of Amy, very strange girls like me go to prom with very good-looking guys. She’s a different kind of woman. I don’t believe that what I do is very digestible, and somehow Amy was the flu for pop music.” Regardless of whether this is true, Winehouse certainly seemed to pave the way for fellow British songbirds Adele and Duffy, both of whom share Amy’s ’60s soul vibe.
In June, YouTube videos surfaced of an intoxicated and discombobulated-looking Winehouse forgetting her own lyrics and getting booed off stage in the first stop of a European tour, which subsequently had to be canceled. Amy was reportedly working on a third album. She joins a long list of musicians who have died at 27. A phenomenon known as The 27 Club, Brian Jones, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain are among those who died at the same age. Let her legend begin.