This Friday is the 10th anniversary of the death of Amy Winehouse, the iconic and rebellious British singer-songwriter who could not overcome her dependence on drugs and alcohol, to which she succumbed at the age of 27.
To coincide with the anniversary, Janis Winehouse-Collins, Amy’s mother, has narrated a new documentary about the life of the musical star. This includes unpublished images and interviews with his closest friends and family.
The artist’s parents, Mitch and Janis, caught up with BBC music reporter Mark Savage at one of the London clubs where Amy performed, to discuss how they seek to regain their daughter’s image.
The documentary is called Reclaiming Amy (“Claiming Amy”) and its producers seek to show different aspects of the brilliant but troubled singer, as well as her parents, after the “bilious” and “acid” treatment they received in the press in the moments of crisis of Amy Winehouse.
“What we are trying to achieve is a more complete image of Amy,” explains Mitch Winehouse on the film that shows images and unpublished statements of the artist.
In anticipation of the documentary that is issuede on BBC channel 2 this July 23 -the date she died- Amy’s parents returned to Camden, the north London clubbing area so beloved by the singer.
“I remember Amy performing on this stage (Jazz Café), the place was bursting,” says Mitch.
Since his first album Frank, released in 2003, critics were virtually unanimous in praising the freshness, frankness and insight of his lyrics.
But it was his second album, Back to Black (2006), which established her as a spectacular and talented singer-songwriter who rose to international stardom.
The album garnered countless awards, including five Grammys at a ceremony that he was unable to attend because the United States did not allow him entry due to his drug history.
Relentless follow-up of the press
Curiously, the songs on that album not only contain samples of his incredible talent, but also the raw explanation of his tormented personality, particularly the simple Rehab (“Rehabilitation”).
In that song, he showed his reluctance to go to a rehab center for alcoholics, singing openly and blatantly “I’m not going, no, no, no.”
From then on the press did not leave her alone, documenting her excesses in bars and stages with relentless coverage.
“They called her a drunk, they called her a junkie, a drug addict,” Mitch tells the BBC, noting that this was normal 10 or 12 years ago.
“I don’t think they could get away with it today. I think there is more understanding with mental health issues now than there was before.”
During this time, Mitch became the public face of the family, but he was also heavily criticized for the way he handled Amy’s professional and personal affairs.
“I still receive criticism: ‘You killed your daughter,’” the press tells him.
The documentary does not evade the singer’s darkest moments, but both Mitch and Janis try to explain the difficulties that a family can face when a loved one is afflicted by the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction.
“Mistakes were made when Amy was sick,” Janis acknowledges at one point. “Only in hindsight do I realize how little we understood.”
But Mitch intervenes to say that what they did cannot be considered mistakes.
“There is no good or bad way to deal with it (addiction),” he says, adding that the only people who could understand that are the people who deal with addiction in their family.
“As a family we broke our heads, how many times did we have family interventions? I already lost count. How many times did I take her to rehab and she left the next day?”
“Desire to be a mother”
The documentary also interviews Amy’s closest friends. Naomi Parry, Chantelle Dusette and Catriona Gourlay.
The latter reveals for the first time that she and Amy they had a relationship sentimental.
Although Mitch emphasizes that he cannot comment on it because he did not know anything about his daughter’s sex life, he does affirm that “Catriona and Amy were like sisters. They were much more than best friends.”
Naomi Parry says for her part that Amy wanted to be a mother, a fact that is confirmed with a sequence of the singer in the documentary where she timidly mentions: “In 10 years I would like to have a couple of children.”
Winehouse’s parents mention that every July 23, family and friends gather at the cemetery and have lunch there in commemoration of Amy.
“The first 10 minutes we started crying and after that we ended up bursting out laughing at a new Amy anecdote,” says Mitch in a tone more of celebration than sadness.
“My joke is, ‘Now I know where he is,’” Janis adds, what her husband calls dark humor with a smile.
“But it’s true,” she replies.
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