LONDON — Amy Winehouse died as the unintended consequence of drinking too much alcohol, a British coroner ruled Wednesday.
Coroner Suzanne Greenaway gave a verdict of "death by misadventure," saying the singer died of accidental alcohol poisoning. "The unintended consequence of such potentially fatal levels (of alcohol) was her sudden and unexpected death," Greenaway said.
The singer, who had fought drug and alcohol problems for years, was found dead in bed at her London home on July 23 at age 27. An initial autopsy proved inconclusive, although it found no traces of illegal drugs in her system.
Pathologist Suhail Baithun told the inquest into the singer's death that Winehouse had consumed a "very large quantity of alcohol" — the level in her blood put her more than five times over the legal drunk-driving limit.
Police Detective Inspector Les Newman, who was called after a security guard found Winehouse, said empty vodka bottles were scattered around her bedroom.
Winehouse's doctor, Dr. Christina Romete, said the singer had resumed drinking in the days before her death after a period of abstinence.
Romete, who saw Winehouse the night before she died, said the singer was "tipsy but calm." She said Winehouse had not spoken of suicide, and talked about her upcoming birthday.
Romete said Winehouse had been prescribed drugs including the sedative Librium to help her cope with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, but the coroner said these had played no role in her death.
Winehouse family spokesman Chris Goodman said it was a relief to the family "to finally find out what happened to Amy."
"The court heard that Amy was battling hard to conquer her problems with alcohol and it is a source of great pain to us that she could not win in time," he said. -- (AP)
NEW YORK — Amy Winehouse's father says the fight to get her off drugs often turned physical, as he tussled with the drug dealers and gangsters who were supplying his daughter with them.
"I spent my time fighting with drug dealers, and I mean proper fighting," Mitch Winehouse said. "And I'm a middle-aged man, who is overweight, having fistfights with people."
Winehouse said his daughter finally budged once she saw how hurt her family was: "She witnessed all this stuff going on, of how her family and her friends were fighting gangsters and she decided she didn't want to put her family in that position anymore."
Amy Winehouse, who had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, was found dead at her London home on July 23. Her father is launching The Amy Winehouse Foundation on Wednesday, which would've been the singer's 28th birthday.
Mitch Winehouse said there were some negative influences in the group that surrounded Amy. He said he was naive about her drug use early on.
"I didn't know the extent of her problem until maybe four months before she decided to quit," he said.
Winehouse — who has been doing interviews and has appeared on TV to talk about the U.S. launch of the foundation — said talking about his daughter is "very hard," but it "is helping us deal with our grief." He made various appearances with Amy's mother, Janis; his current wife, Jane; and Amy's last boyfriend, Reg Traviss.
"I don't know what her ultimate plans were, but she was certainly talking to me about having children," Winehouse said of his daughter's last relationship. "Even when she was drinking, she was in a great place."
Winehouse believes his daughter died of a seizure related to alcohol detoxification. She had seizures in the past, he said. A full inquest into her death begins next month.
Mitch Winehouse, who is also a musician, was in New York for a performance when his daughter died. He said he struggles to listen to her music, especially her critically acclaimed, multiplatinum album "Back to Black," which won five Grammy Awards and is the U.K.'s best-selling album of the 21st century. It featured songs about Amy's addiction and relationship with ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil.
"I can't sit down and listen to her music," he said. "I couldn't ever listen to 'Back to Black' anyway because it reminded me of dark times."
But since her death, Mitch Winehouse said, he is beginning to realize his daughter's musical talents.
"I took everything for granted, I didn't appreciate what a great singer she was, and now I do," he said, getting teary-eyed.
And he still wants to release his own music. Winehouse said initially after Amy's death, he told his wife, "I never want to sing again, ever."
But he said recording music has been therapeutic for him, and he hopes to release more, with all the proceeds going to the foundation in his daughter's name, which will assist disadvantaged children and young adults. He said he's able to focus on that side of his life since his daughter left their family financial stable.
"Amy left us in a very fortunate position as a family," said Mitch Winehouse, who worked as a London taxi driver. "Being a London taxi driver is a great thing, but I don't have to do that for a living anymore."
Amy Winehouse is featured on the Tony Bennett duet "Body and Soul"; the song and music video were released Wednesday and some of its sales will profit the late singer's foundation. Mitch Winehouse said there is unreleased music from his daughter that he eventually hopes to make available.
"Some of it is better quality than others," he said. "We're not going to rip anybody off, we want make sure it's good and it's good quality."
He also said there are recordings of a 17-year-old Amy performing in London's National Youth Jazz Orchestra that he would like to release someday.
"You would have thought you were listening to Ella Fitzgerald," he said. "Just wonderful." -- (AP)
When singer Amy Winehouse was found dead at her London home in 2011, the press inducted her into what Kurt Cobain’s mother named the “27 Club.”
“Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club,” she said in 1994, after being told that her son, the front man of Nirvana, had committed suicide. “I told him not to …” Cobain’s mom was referring to the extraordinary roll call of iconic stars who died at the same young age. The Big Six are Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison of the Doors, Kurt Cobain and, now, Amy Winehouse. All were talented. All were dissipated. All were 27.
In “27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse” (Da Capo Press, $26.99), author Howard Sounes conducts the definitive forensic investigation into the lives and deaths of the six most iconic members of the Club, plus another 44 music industry figures who died at 27, to discover what, apart from coincidence, this phenomenon signifies.
“There is a spike in the [life] graph, and suddenly at age 27 a lot more people do die, and it kind of doubles from age 26,” explained Sounes. “Now in terms of the whole graph, you’re much more likely likely to die in your 40s, or 50s or 60s. Indeed the highest mortality rate is in late middle age, but there is this spike in the numbers at age 27. That is partly explained by coincidental events, I think, but there are a lot of interesting things going on because, of course, pop stars tend to get successful in their early 20s and that is when they tend to over indulge in drink and drugs. In the case of the stars in this book, they had problems going back to childhood, and if you recklessly abused your body over three or four years you can effectively kill your self — and that is really what happens with many of these people.”
Journalists write about “the curse of the 27 Club” as if there is a supernatural reason for this series of deaths. Others invoke astrology, numerology and conspiracy theories to explain what has become a modern mystery. Sounes insists it is merely the timing of these stars’ success.
“First of all it is a coincidence; there isn’t a there isn’t of reason in numerology or astrology; they weren’t all murdered — they all died by coincidence at this at the same age,” said Sounes. “But, when you look beyond that coincidences these are very similar people. They all had problems starting in childhood, often with their parents, so it was always conflict with the parents. They all get in trouble with drink and drugs very early on, way before they become famous. They are all very sensitive, highly strung people often with emotional problems, even mental problems. And, when they become famous they all become famous around the same age, age 21, 22, 23 — and it hits them like an anvil: It’s very sudden and violent. One day they are almost unknown; the next day they are world famous, and they are also very wealthy. This doesn’t help them cope with the problems which they have carried from childhood. They are already abusing drink and drugs often, but in a way that is reckless to the point of being self-destructive and that is the theme of the book — essentially it is people who are very unhappy, who, one might say, actually killed themselves.”
Sounes, who lives in London, is known for writing detailed and revelatory biographies of a wide range of extraordinary personalities, including author Charles Bukowski (“Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life”) and musicians Bob Dylan (“Down the Highway”) and Paul McCartney (“Fab”). In the “27,” this haunting book tackles the fantasies, half-truths and mythologies that have become associated with Jones, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain and Winehouse are debunked. Instead a clear and compelling narrative emerges, one based on hard facts, that unites these lost souls in both life and death. In a grimly fascinating journey through the dark side of the music business over six decades, Sounes uncovers a common story of excess, madness and self-destruction.