Amy Winehouse’s Death, One Year Later: A Timeline
From heartfelt tributes to news about her estate, the key stories to emerge in the months following the singer's death last summer at age 27
In January 2011, Amy Winehouse returned to the stage in Brazil to largely positive reviews. Six months later, she performed what was quickly deemed a “train wreck” gig in Belgrade, Serbia, where she greeted the crowd, “Hello, Athens!” and stumbled around the stage clutching her stomach for an agonizing 90 minutes. The following day, her reps announced she’d be taking a break from live performance to “return to her best.” On July 20, she danced alongside her goddaughter Dionne Bromfield at the iTunes festival. Three days later, she was discovered unresponsive in bed by her bodyguard at her Camden Square flat on a Saturday afternoon. Two ambulances were dispatched to her house, but EMTs weren’t able to revive her. The 27-year-old singer was pronounced dead at the scene.
In the days and weeks that followed, the number of tributes to Winehouse was nearly matched by the volume of stories speculating about her death and what would come next: unreleased music? Revelations from her family? Here’s a timeline tracking the most important developments in the Winehouse story in the year following her death.
July 23, 2011: Musicians react to Winehouse’s death, including producer and close collaborator Mark Ronson, who tweeted, “She was my musical soulmate & like a sister to me. This is one of the saddest days of my life.” Russell Brand also posts a moving note on his website recalling the first time he saw her perform: “A voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine. My ears, my mouth, my heart and mind all instantly opened.”
July 25, 2011: M.I.A. releases “27,” a tribute track dedicated to “all [her] friends” who died at that age, which she tweeted alongside the note “R.I.P. A.M.Y.”
July 26, 2011: Winehouse’s family and friends bury the singer at a private funeral in North London. Ronson, close friend Kelly Osbourne, and then-boyfriend Reg Traviss attend and her father, Mitch Winehouse, gives a moving 40-minute eulogy, during which he announces the family’s plans to set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
July 27, 2011: Winehouse’s Back to Black returns to the Billboard Top 200 albums chart at No. 9 with 37,000 copies sold. Her debut, Frank also charts at No. 57.
July 28, 2011: As part of a larger debate about celebrating entertainers with known substance abuse problems, the ex-United States Secretary of Education and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under George Bush Senior, William J. Bennett, pens an op-ed for CNN shaming the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for awarding Winehouse with three Grammys just three years before her death.
August 10, 2011: British clothier Fred Perry announces a plan to go ahead with the ’60s-inspired spring/summer 2012 clothing line Winehouse had designed for them before her death. What proceeds Winehouse would have incurred from the line, they also say, will be donated to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
August 16, 2011: Green Day debut a new song live called “Amy” and post its lyrics on their website, which include “27 gone without a trace / And you walked away from your drink / Is your heart singing out of tune / Are you eyes just singing the blues?”
August 23, 2011: Coroners return Winehouse’s toxicology report is returned by coroners and her family states that “authorities have confirmed that there were no illegal substances in Amy’s system at the time of her death. Results indicate that alcohol was present but it cannot be determined as yet if it played a role in her death.” A formal inquest into her death is set for October 26.
August 28, 2011: Bruno Mars leads a tribute to Winehouse at the 2011 MTV VMAs, singing a tightly choreographed rendition of the Zutons’ “Valerie,” which Winehouse had covered.
September 9, 2011: Mitch Winehouse tapes an interview with Anderson Cooper, claiming that a seizure related to his daughter’s alcohol detox was the cause of her as-yet unexplained death.
September 14, 2011: On what would have been the singer’s 28th birthday, Amy Winehouse’s label, Columbia, releases the video for her duet with Tony Bennett, the jazz standard “Body and Soul,” supposedly the final recording she ever made. Winehouse’s family also officially launches the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which will “help young people with varying levels of need, however we are understandably particularly passionate about supporting those suffering with addiction and those in need of substance misuse treatment or rehabilitation.”
October 11, 2011: Mitch Winehouse unsurprisingly announces that he’s signed a deal with HarperCollins to write a book about his daughter. The proceeds from Amy, My Daughter will benefit the Amy Winehouse Foundation. Criticism that he’s writing the book for attention elicits Twitter backlash from the taxi driver-turned-singer, “I also need to write the book as a part of my recovery. For those people that don’t like it. Tough!”
October 26, 2011: U.K. coroner Suzanne Greenaway rules Amy Winehouse’s official cause of death “misadventure” — the same verdict reached in the death of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones in 1969, also at 27 — and states she died because she disregarded the risks of excessive alcohol intake. Her doctor, Dr. Christina Romete, says that Winehouse had quit drinking for a while but started up again a few days before she died. Her blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit five times over. Detectives reveal that empty vodka bottles were found in her bedroom.
October 31, 2011: Amy Winehouse’s camp announces that Island Records will release posthumous album Lioness: Hidden Treasures on December 5. As its release date draws nearer, revelations about the album being to emerge: it contains a duet with Nas called “Like Smoke”; its cover art was shot by her friend Bryan Adams. When the album arrives, SPIN writes that it “reiterates, albeit bittersweetly, that Winehouse’s most important legacy was her gift.”
November 17, 2011: Producer Salaam Remi mentions in an interview during a listening session for Lioness that Winehouse had planned to form a supergroup with ?uestlove and sax player Soweto Kinch, explaining that he knew about her plans because “she had written down everything she wanted to do.”
November 18, 2011: The day the composite footage video for Lioness track “Our Day Will Come” arrives, news also breaks that Island Records, per Winehouse’s wishes, plans to keep the singer’s many unfinished and unreleased recordings — exec Darcus Beese says there are at least a dozen — permanently locked away. “If you ever hear ‘Procrastination,'” Beese tells Music Week, “you have my permission to come into my offices here in Kensington and fire me.” (That song leaked back in 2008 and has been played over 1.2 million times on YouTube.)
December 8, 2011: Irish television program Other Voices announces it has compiled a documentary about the singer that includes an interview from just after Back to Black dropped in 2006 with the then 23-year-old, as well as an unreleased video of her performing “Love is a Losing Game,” perhaps that album’s most desolate track, in a church in rural Ireland. That documentary is shown at London’s East End Film Festival in early July 2012. (note: it will also be broadcast tonight, July 23, on BBC4 at 10 p.m.)
December 12, 2012: Rumors started by an NME interview with Winehouse’s ex-boyfriend/filmmaker Reg Traviss that a biopic might be in the works are quashed by her father, who told the Daily Mail that the family, who owns all the rights to her music, “would never allow the songs to be released.” (Nevertheless, this kind of family refusal hasn’t stopped filmmakers before.)
January 25, 2012: Jean Paul Gaultier’s Winehouse-inspired spring-summer haute-couture line hits Paris. Critics are split on whether the show, which featured makeup and hairstyles identical to the singer’s and, apparently, a live barbershop quartet covering “Rehab,” was a “marvelous show” or “hit all the wrong notes.”
February 1, 2012: London Coroner Andrew Reid makes a statement that his wife, assistant deputy coroner Suzanne Greenaway, who delivered Winehouse’s “death by misadventure” conclusion in October, had resigned from her position a month after the ruling, because she had not served as a registered lawyer in the U.K. for the requisite five years before he had appointed her (though she had worked as both solicitor and barrister in Australia previously). The Winehouse family says they will seek legal advice as to whether they should reopen Amy’s case (to this day, they have not reopened it).
March 2, 2012: Winehouse’s family announces that the Amy Winehouse Foundation will fund an annual scholarship to London’s Sylvia Young Theatre School, which Amy attended. (Though Sylvia Young herself has claimed she was never expelled, Amy used to tell interviewers that she’d been kicked out after a year for “not applying herself” and for piercing her nose.)
March 28, 2012: Documents are made public that show that Winehouse unsurprisingly hadn’t drafted a will, so her approximately $4.66 million fortune (pre-taxes and debt settlement, it’s about $6.7 million) will go not to her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, but instead to her parents, her father already having been the administrator of her estate. The money, like most of the money involved with her legacy, is presumably donated to her Foundation.
May 11, 2012: Winehouse had once offered friend Pete Doherty a sample of her blood as a “self-portrait” painted on one of his canvases. He finished it off with his own “arterial splatter,” named it “Ladylike,” and put it on display at London’s Cob Gallery as part of a larger personal collection. It’s valued between $80,000 and $128,000, but in the end, is auctioned off for a paltry $56,000, despite earlier expectations that Doherty wouldn’t sell it at all due to its “personal nature.” An unreported percentage of the profit is donated to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
May 31, 2012: The Winehouse family puts their daughter’s Camden flat where she died up for sale for roughly $4.2 million after deeming it “inappropriate for [them] to live there” and ruling it out as a headquarters for the Amy Winehouse Foundation In a macabre twist, that sale also comes with a full online tour of the house for potential buyers/fans.
June 1, 2012: Patti Smith releases Banga, which includes the track “Nine,” a pointed tribute, she had revealed previously, to Winehouse; she says she wrote its lyrics shortly after her death.
June 8, 2012: A spokesman for Camden Town venue the Roundhouse announces that the “idea is in its early stages of development” to erect a statue of Winehouse inside the venue; her father elaborates that the idea will be that it’ll be “bronze, life-size and on the first-floor balcony next to the Roundhouse bar. What we’d like to have is Amy leaning over the balcony and looking, and perhaps pointing, towards Camden Town from Chalk Farm Road.”
June 28, 2012: Amy, My Daughter, Mitch Winehouse’s memoir, is published. He is predictably harsh on Fielder-Civil — “It wasn’t as if he brought much good into her life, or so it seemed to me” — but also recounts how she met Mark Ronson, and how her hit, “Rehab,” came to be.
July 5, 2012: Nas drops “Cherry Wine,” a serene cut off his new record Life is Good, that features a previously unheard vocal cut from his good friend Amy. The pair’s mutual friend, producer Salaam Remi, takes the helm once again.
July 5, 2012: On the heels of “Cherry Wine,” Mitch Winehouse has another chat with the press (this time BBC 6 Music) and hints that the world could expect at least one, maybe two, more albums, mostly comprised of covers, from his daughter’s vault, despite Remi’s explicit comment to NME last year that Lioness would not lead to “a Tupac situation” (as a refresher, Tupac has had seven posthumous albums to his name).
July 16, 2012: George Michael tells a radio interviewer that he had approached Adele about performing a duet with him at his November 6, 2011 AIDS charity fund concert in honor of the late Elizabeth Taylor, but that the song he proposed they sing, Winehouse’s “Love is A Losing Game,” made her decline his offer, saying that “she couldn’t. She tried to put one of her songs in her own set and she couldn’t even get through it.”