Late singer Amy Winehouse. (Photo credit: Twitter/@amywinehouse)
Mitch Winehouse, the father of late singer Amy Winehouse, gets personal about his troubled daughter in a new book.
Amy, My Daughter was published on Tuesday by HarperCollins imprint It Books. Proceeds from the book are to be donated to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which her family started after her 2011 death. The organization supports other nonprofits that provide support and care to young people in need, including those affected by addiction.
The book includes photos of a young Amy Winehouse, scans of cards she gave her father over the years, and a back cover blurb from singer Tony Bennett, with whom Amy Winehouse recorded the song Body and Soul for his album, Duets II.
In his book, Mitch Winehouse looks back at his daughter's life, her battles with drug and alcohol addiction, and her relationship with ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil (who he blames for getting her hooked on hard drugs in the first place).
Doing well at the time of her death?
In his eulogy at his daughter's funeral, Winehouse said she had conquered her drug addiction and had been trying hard to deal with her drinking, according to a BBC News report.
In his book, he provides a glimpse of what he says his daughter was like toward the end of her life. He writes that while her life was far from the tumultuous train wreck suggested by the tabloids, there were problems: Yes, she had lapses back into alcoholism, but those lapses had been gradually getting further and further apart. There was no doubt in those around her that her life was going in the right direction. I always equated Amy's neatness, or lack of it, to how well-ordered her mind was at any particular time. During those last eighteen months the clothes in her wardrobes were neat and tidy, her books and CDs were organized alphabetically and her sketchbooks numbered. I knew that Amy couldn't have died from a drug overdose, as she had been drug-free since 2008. But although she had been so brave and had fought so hard in her recovery from alcoholism, I knew she must have lapsed once again. I thought that Amy hadn't had a drink for three weeks. But she had actually started drinking at Dionne's Roundhouse gig the previous Wednesday. I didn't know that at the time.
The Bond gig that wasn't
Winehouse was tapped at one point to collaborate on the theme song for the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace -- she even had a great meeting with a film producer, according to her father -- but a series of incidents stemming from her drug addiction got in the way. There was always an excuse not to go to the studio; drugs seemed all-consuming, Winehouse writes. When she wasn't high, she was as passionate about her music as she'd ever been, but those moments were further and further apart. The Bond song job eventually went to R&B singer and musician Alicia Keys and Jack White of the White Stripes, who sang the film's theme Another Way to Die.
Winehouse the math whiz
Winehouse hated formal schooling, but she was a math whiz, according to her father-who writes that she loved calculus and quadratic equations when she was a young girl. He credits his first wife, the singer's mother, with instilling a love of math in their daughter at a young age: Janis would set Amy some pretty complicated problems, which she really enjoyed doing. Amy would do mathematical problems for hours on end just for fun. She was brilliant at the most complex Sudoku puzzles and could finish one in a flash.
Crossing the pond
Winehouse was disappointed that his daughter's debut album Frank wasn't also released in the U.S. when it first came out. Winehouse's managers did not think the singer was ready to conquer the U.S. Her father acknowledged that they were correct. His daughter loved to sing, but she wasn't always comfortable with being onstage and would look down rather than at the audience: Sometimes it was as if they weren't there and she was singing and playing for her own amusement. Her voice was great, but she wasn't delivering a performance: she needed coaching in how to give the best to her audiences. Her act needed refining before she took it to the States.
The man who got her hooked
Winehouse admits that his daughter smoked marijuana, but also claims that she was very much against Class-A drugs (not unlike here in the U.S., drugs in the UK are classified in three categories; Class-A drugs, which carry the highest penalties, include cocaine, heroin and LSD). He blames his late daughter's ex-husband, with whom she had a tumultuous relationship, for getting her hooked: Although Amy was smoking cannabis, she had always been totally against class-A drugs. Blake Fielder-Civil changed that.
Inspiration for her look
Fans recall Winehouse's signature hairstyle -- her beehive hairdo. According to her father, the singer got the inspiration for her makeup in Miami, Florida: When Amy returned to London she told me excitedly about some of the Hispanic women she'd seen in Miami, and how she wanted to blend their look - thick eyebrows, heavy eye-liner, bright red lipstick - with her passion for the sixties 'beehive.'
Great music came at a heavy price
Much to Winehouse's dismay, his daughter was most inspired when her personal life was in turmoil. He wrote that she tended to stay away from her guitar when she was happy. He was floored by the great success of her most popular album, Back in Black, but still preferred her previous album, Frank. He wrote about why he didn't like Back in Black, as successful as it was: The songs are amazing but she went through hell to write them. I don't like Back to Black as much as I like Frank; I never really did. And that's for one reason only: all of the songs on Back to Black, apart from 'Rehab,' are about Blake. It occurred to me recently that one of the biggest-selling UK albums of the twenty-first century so far is all about the biggest low-life scumbag that God ever put breath into.
No place for Mum and Dad at the wedding
Winehouse was upset when his daughter married Blake Fielder-Civil in Miami without her parents present. He believes Fielder-Civil had something to do with it: It seemed to me that Blake couldn't have cared less if his mother was at his wedding or not, and I think he was partially to blame that neither Janis nor I was there when they were married in Miami on 18 May 2007.
Airing his daughter's dirty laundry
Winehouse writes that his daughter wasn't exactly thrilled when he went on a British talk show to discuss her drug problems. He defends his actions in his book, claiming to believe that publicly discussing his daughter's problems would be cathartic for their family and for other families dealing with similar issues. According to Winehouse, viewers responded positively. His daughter, however, called him to complain and they had a heated conversation. Winehouse implies that Fielder-Civil wasn't helping the situation: In the background I could hear Blake whispering to her. The call didn't end well. Amy must have known how upset I was, though, because she called me back a few minutes later in a much more conciliatory tone.
Amy, My Daughter is on sale in bookstores and is also available for NOOK and Kindle.