London: Amy Winehouse’s father Mitch has opened up about coping up with the devastating loss of his superstar daughter last year.
he 27-year-old Grammy award winner died of alcohol poisoning in 2011.
“I resolved that 2008 would be the year we helped Amy get clean. By now Blake was in Pentonville prison, sentenced to nearly three years for his part in a vicious assault on a bar owner. So I felt we had a chance of making it happen,” the Daily mail quoted him as saying.
“This was what Universal Records wanted, too. Lucian Grainge, chairman and chief executive of Universal, told me he would not allow Amy to perform. Furthermore, unless Amy went into rehab, he would not allow her to perform at the Grammys or the Brit Awards either.
“His concern was that Amy would make a laughing stock of herself. Lucian laid down the law, instructing Amy that unless she went into rehab he would stop her working.
“Resistant as she was to the idea, she agreed to be admitted to Capio Nightingale, a leading private psychiatric hospital in St John’s Wood.
“Rest was a crucial part of the programme for the first few days, and Amy spent quite a bit of time sleeping. She started to eat properly and after a few days made progress.
“Amy had an incredible power of recovery, given the quantity of poisonous substances involved. But a few days later, I had a call from the hospital to tell me one of Blake’s friends had smuggled drugs into the hospital, crudely stuffed inside a teddy bear.
“On Monday, June 16, Amy had another seizure. She was taken to The London Clinic. We had security guys working shifts to look after her by this time and the next day I took a call from one of them to warn me that a package was on its way.
“I jumped in my cab, and reached the clinic just in time to see a known drug-dealer with a bunch of flowers for Amy. The security man searched the bouquet and found a rock of crack cocaine. Amy went mad when she found out we’d intercepted the drug.
“Shortly after this Blake was interviewed in a newspaper. He was quoted saying: ‘I dragged Amy into drugs and without me there is no doubt that she would never have gone down that road. I ruined something beautiful.’
“By 2011, Amy was completely clean. Yet the alcohol remained a serious problem.
“June brought that infamous concert in Belgrade. It was a shambles. She must have smuggled some alcohol into the gig, or got someone to do it for her, and she was drunk before she went onstage.
“Her performance was disastrous and much of the audiences were booing. She couldn’t remember the lyrics of her songs, or even the names of her band members. It was one of the worst ever – right up there with Birmingham.
“On Saturday, July 23, 2011, my darling daughter Amy passed away. We cried and cried until it seemed there were no tears left. I had seen Amy the day before I flew to New York and she was fine.
“Janis and Reg had seen her the next day and she was fine. And she was still fine later that night – although, according to Andrew, her security man, she was ‘tipsy’.
“When Andrew checked on her a bit later, she was singing and playing drums in her room. He had checked on her again in the morning and thought she was asleep. Then he checked again a few hours later and raised the alarm.
“A lot of people believe Amy’s life was in turmoil during her last 18 months. But nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, she had lapses back into alcoholism, but those lapses had been getting further apart. There was no doubt 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 18 months the clothes in her wardrobes were neat and tidy, her books and CDs were organised alphabetically and her sketch books 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.
“The following morning we went to St Pancras Mortuary to officially identify her. She looked very, very peaceful, as if she was just asleep, which, in a way, made it a lot harder. She looked lovely. Amy’s passing was and is unbearable. Our lives have changed for ever and will never be the same again.
“There had to be an inquest into Amy’s death. Toxicology reports later confirmed that Amy’s system had not contained any illegal drugs at the time of her death. The alcohol levels found in Amy’s blood, however, were very, very, high: 416mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
“The pathologist who conducted her post-mortem said 350mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood was considered a fatal level. The coroner’s verdict was misadventure.
“Hearing Amy’s music – even if we just walk past an open window and hear it playing inside somewhere – is still difficult for me. I miss her so much that sometimes it physically hurts. It’s easy to forget that Amy was only a young woman when she died, as so many people had been touched by her life and her music.
“Her legacy is already having a positive effect on many young people’s lives; I have spent much of the time since her death setting up Amy’s Foundation and will spend the rest of my life working for it. Together with my family, my dear friends and the many other people helping us, we will ensure that Amy is never forgotten,” he added.