Amy Winehouse family reveal two destructive events which led to deep decline and death – The Mirror

Posted in Tattoo Nightmares on Jul 25, 2021

Amy Winehouse tragically died at the age of just 27 a decade ago - and her grieving family are still coming to terms with how it happened.

The much-loved Back to Black singer, who became the first British woman to win five Grammy Awards, was plagued by alcohol and drug addiction during her final years.

In powerful new documentary Reclaiming Amy, which airs tonight on BBC Two, mum Janis explains she wants to show there is more to her daughter than "the drugs, addiction and destructive relationships".

Janis and her ex-husband Mitch went through every parents' worst nightmare back in September 1983 when their beloved daughter died from alcohol poisoning.

Speaking in Reclaiming Amy, the singing sensation's family and close friends reveal the exact moment when things started to "unravel".

"There were massive huge events coming together, which at the same time were every difficult to deal with," says Mitch, who admits he wishes he could have done things differently.

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Amy was devastated when her grandmother Cynthia, who had also been a singer and was incredibly close to her, sadly passed away in 2006.

It was Cynthia who encouraged son Mitch and daughter-in-law Janis to send Amy to the Susi Earnshaw Theatre School, where she got vocal education and learned to tap dance.

When Amy's parents divorced when she was 10, Janis found it difficult to put limits on her and she herself confessed to going through long periods of being "horrible to her mum".

But Cynthia was there to keep Amy on the straight and narrow, with Mitch explaining: "Amy was an incredible strong personality and Janice kind of struggled.

"I was pretty strong with her, not like my mum was. My mum was like the nuclear option."

Amy's family and friends believe Cynthia's death was a major factor in Amy going off the rails and turning to booze and drugs.

As a tribute to her grandmother, Amy got a tattoo of a pin-up girl on her right shoulder, with mum Janis explaining that her daughter was "devastated because her nan had gone".

Dad Mitch believes certain "mistakes" involving Amy would not have been made had Cynthia been alive.

"My mother and I were very close. And of course when Amy was ill my mother wasn't there to help and guide me," he adds.

"Thats why mistakes were made because the wise one of the family had gone."

Best friend Catriona Gourlay says Cynthia's death "lit the fuse" and that's when "things started to unravel".

"Her drinking definitely increased, yes. I think at the time I was more worried about her eating. After that point she was making herself sick all the time," says Catriona, who realised Amy was bulimic.

Devastatingly, close pal and stylist Naomi Parry says she thinks Amy was trying to hide her bulimia from those around her.

"It's something you feel deep shame other and its not as simple as wanting to control your bodyweight theres much more mentally going on with it," she explains.

"She knew we all of us knew but back then they were still really taboos subjects still. She was trying to hide it. I think she felt guilty about putting her issues onto other people."

Another event that shaped Amy's final years was her marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil.

The singer tied the knot with the former video production assistant Blake in Miami on 18 May 2007 after an on/off romance, but their tumultuous marriage was filled with drug abuse.

"Amy loved him, there's no question about it," says Mitch. "It was one extremely caustic, hopeless and destructive relationship."

Blake went to prison in the summer of 2008 after being convicted of perverting the course of justice and grievous bodily harm with intent over an attack on a pub landlord.

Amy was left devastated after Blake was torn away from her - with friend Naomi claiming she went into a "deep decline".

Her friends and family admit they could only watch as Amy went into a downward spiral.

"Seeing your friend slowly kill themselves is as bad as it sounds - terrifying," admits close friend Chantelle Dusette.

"I mean youd see someone that thin that looks that unwell, I cant even express show dark it was. It was frightening for her and everybody."

Janis, who struggled to help her daughter because her multiple sclerosis declined, heartbreakingly adds: "It's horrible to watch your child disappearing and dying. I could only watch and wait."

Dad Mitch became more involved in Amy's day to day life as her addiction got worse - and strongly denies claims he put pressure on his daughter to carry on performing when she was unwell.

The documentary looks at the 'misconception' that Amy's parents were not supervising her after Mitch especially was heavily criticised in 2015 Oscar-winning documentary 'Amy'.

Mitch, who reveals he had a nervous breakdown over the film, says: "There were times with Amy when she was performing and she wasnt well and i told her not to go on.

"You couldnt tell her to do something or not, if she was going to do it shed do it. There's all this talk about her manager made her do this and I did that. Nobody controlled Amy, she was the governor."

Feeling he had no other options, Mitch even tried to get Amy sectioned after a particularly bad episode but says she was smart enough to tell the doctors what they needed to hear.

Everyone thought the worst was behind them when Amy stopped taking drugs and won five Grammys in 2008, but she "switched from one addiction to another".

Janis, who got up on stage with Amy to collect one of her Grammys, says: "She was prone to addiction. She couldnt stop herself. It's a very cruel beast."

While friend and stylist Naomi explains her belief that Amy struggled to open up on her mental health issues because of the stigma at the time.

"She basically switched done addiction for another. She went from drugs to alcohol," says Naomi.

"That was the problem, the alcoholism was a biproduct of something much deeper that needed addressing. It was mental health issues.

"She didnt want to admit she had mental health issues because it was at a time that it was still like, 'theyre going to lock me up if I say I'm struggling with my mental health'. People didn't understand it."

In her final few months, Amy would have long stints of sobriety dispersed with large periods of binge drinking.

On this day in 2011, the singer was found unconscious in her Camden home by her bodyguard - with paramedics later confirming she was dead at the scene.

Mitch and Janis, who were distraught, describe their daughter as looking like she was asleep when they had the heartbreaking task of identifying her body.

"What I now know abut addiction, she didn't let anybody down. She was the victim of the addiction.," explains Mitch.

"There has always got to be a culprit. There isnt a culprit. The addiction is the culprit. That addiction is more powerful than any love anyone can give."

This is the first time that Janis has spoken about her daughter in depth, with the documentary looking to reclaim her legacy.

With access to never-before-seen family archives and rare musical performances, this highly personal and powerful account of the life and death of one of Britains best-loved musicians offers a new interpretation of her life, her loves and her legacy.

*Frank offers confidential advice about drugs and addiction (email frank@talktofrank.com, message 82111 or call 0300 123 6600) or the NHS has information about getting help.

*For help and support on eating disorders contact Beat Eating Disorders on 0808 801 0677.

*Reclaiming Amy airs tonight on BBC Two at 9pm

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Amy Winehouse family reveal two destructive events which led to deep decline and death - The Mirror

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