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Billboard Magazine ( July 4, 2015 )


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#1 Agresio

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Posted 21 July 2015 - 09:10 PM

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ONE DAY IN
NOVEMBER 2005,
AMY WINEHOUSE
 
sat in a car with her friend and co-manager   
Nick Shymansky, winding through the
English countryside toward a rehab center.
The singer’s drinking had been getting out
of control, Shymansky remembers, and he
felt she needed help. When they arrived,
Winehouse said she would check in on one
condition: that her father, Mitch, agreed.
So they drove 50 miles to Mitch’s house,
where Winehouse perched on her father’s
lap and asked, “Do you think I need to go
to rehab?” Mitch’s reply? “Absolutely not.”
Four months later, Winehouse was
recording with producer Mark Ronson in
New York. Ronson found her account of
the incident so funny that he suggested
she turn it into a song. Three hours later,
she had written her breakout hit, “Rehab.”
“If I’d known all the stuff that was going
on, I don’t know if I would have thought
it was so amusing,” Ronson tells Billboard
today. “But she said it in such a light way.”
Says Shymansky: “My dream for Amy was
that she could be the best and biggest artist
in the world. The irony is the song that
got her there was a cry for help.”
Winehouse died from alcohol poisoning
on July 23, 2011 at the age of 27. Her short,
tumultuous life is the subject of a riveting
new documentary, Amy, by director Asif
Kapadia and producer James Gay-Rees,
the team behind 2010’s award-winning
Senna. When Amy premiered at the
Cannes Film Festival in May, The Guardian
hailed it as a “tragic masterpiece.”
In Winehouse’s story, many of the
perils of 21st-century fame collide. She
was hounded not only by paparazzi —
the famously aggressive British tabloids
painstakingly tracked her movements
around her London home — but by talking
heads insensitive to addiction and
mental-health issues. One disturbing
sequence in the film shows Winehouse as
a punchline for talk-show hosts. “She was
ill. You had people who had praised her
and now they were murdering her,” says
Darcus Beese, president of Island Records
and Winehouse’s former A&R man.
“Hopefully, when they see their faces on 
the screen they’ll feel embarrassed.”
Like Britney Spears, another singer
classified as a “train wreck” at that time,
Winehouse felt the lashes of 24-7 gossip
coverage as it converged with her celebrity.
And that wasn’t all Winehouse contended
with: The pressure to be thin worsened her
existing eating disorders, and the eventual
onset of stage fright only seemed to increase
her dependence on alcohol — problems that
plagued her until the end of her life, even
after she had broken free from hard drugs.
“The film was an eye-opener,” says Beese.
“I didn’t realize we were signing a girl who
was broken.”
The documentary, which opens July 3
in the United States, looks to do what
Winehouse could not in her brief career:
secure her legacy. She had no gift for selfpromotion.
Her extra ordinary talent resided
entirely in her voice and songs. “We have
this stereotype of young Mozart,” says
Ronson. “Lightning strikes his head and
then he furiously scribbles for two hours and
has a concerto. She’s the only person I saw
who was actually like that.”
By infusing a retro sound with a
bracingly modern sensibility, Winehouse
opened the door for singers like Adele
and Sam Smith. In kickstarting Ronson’s
career, she also helped make “Uptown
Funk!” — Ronson’s hit with Bruno Mars,
the longest-leading Billboard Hot 100 No. 1
of this decade — possible. “Her song ‘You
Sent Me Flying’ is the reason why I sing,”
Smith tells Billboard. “At 11 years old I was
belting out ‘F— Me Pumps’ and soaking in
all the language and honesty.”
Yet Winehouse’s stature remains
uncertain: She’s neither an icon like Kurt
Cobain nor a cult figure like Jeff Buckley.
Her 2006 album Back to Black has sold
2.9 million copies in the United States,
according to Nielsen Music; won five
Grammys; and made her a global star.
But she played only a few dozen live
shows and never chronicled her subsequent
struggles in song. While her music
remains popular — she sold more than
400,000 song downloads in 2014, and
“Rehab” has been streamed more than
35 million times on Spotify — Winehouse
herself is only dimly understood.
“She never spent enough time [in the
United States] for people to get a sense of
her outside of being drunk and sloppy,”
says Republic Records chairman/CEO
Monte Lipman. David Joseph, chairman/
CEO of Universal Music U.K. and an
executive producer on Amy, says, “Some
asked, ‘Are you making a film about a drug
addict?’ People didn’t even realize she
wrote her own lyrics.”
The film is a riveting collage of audio
interviews and mostly unseen footage. It
took the filmmakers two years to win the
trust of Winehouse’s friends, many of whom
hadn’t spoken publicly since her death. “At
the beginning nobody wanted to talk to me,”
says Kapadia. “Then everybody did.” Only
Mitch Winehouse has since criticized the
project, calling it “unbalanced.” Gay-
Rees says that the initial three-hour cut
was “too painful to watch.” Even the final
128-minute version is overwhelmingly
sad. Says Shymansky: “You see this
happy, witty spark of an artist and then
this desperately high, lost, overexposed,
overharassed wreck of a person.”
ACROSS THE STREET FROM
30 Camden Square, where Winehouse
died, a tree serves as an informal shrine,
garlanded with wilting bouquets and
heartfelt messages. Nearby fans can also
find the apartment where she wrote Back to
Black; the pub where she met her husband,
Blake Fielder-Civil; and a lifesize bronze
statue unveiled in 2014. The north London
neighborhood of Camden Town is where
Winehouse became a superstar, an addict,
a tabloid obsession and a fatality. “The
question was, how did this happen?” says
Kapadia. “This didn’t happen in the ’60s. It
happened right here, in front of our eyes.”
In Amy’s first section, the young
Winehouse comes across as a force of
nature, opinionated and hilarious. Beneath
the surface, however, there were already
fault lines. In the film, Winehouse traces
her teenage struggles, marked by bulimia,
antidepressants and daily weed smoking, to
her parents’ divorce when she was 9.
But as traumatic as the divorce may
have been — and as tempting as it is to
lay blame with a father who downplayed
her addictions — Winehouse’s fatal flaw
may have been attempting the leap from
a normal, if turbulent, adolescence to
inhabiting the role of a fearless, riskanything
artist. “She wanted attention
and recognition, but it didn’t really fit
her,” says Shymansky. “She was making
herself into a cartoon,” writer Caitlin
Moran suggests. “She wanted to look
like her music. As a feminist, I hated
stomach off. But there’s an odd empowerment
in that, for women — that your only
nemesis is you.”
In 1999, Winehouse’s friend Tyler
James gave her demo tape to Shymansky, a
junior employee at production company 19
Entertainment. With his boss Nick Godwyn,
Shymansky hooked up Winehouse with
Salaam Remi, a rap producer known for
his work with Nas and The Fugees. “Amy
was confident and witty,” says Remi. “In
the first 10 minutes she probably had 10
quick things to say, so I’d say, ‘OK, we’re
putting all that into a song.’ ”
Island signed Winehouse in 2002. “She
was exactly how I thought an authentic
artist should be,” says Lucian Grainge,
chairman/CEO of Universal Music Group.
(Grainge, who is also Shymansky’s uncle,
was chairman of Universal Music U.K. at the
time.) “When she liked you, she was either
utterly irreverent or made you feel like the
most important person in the world.”
Winehouse became a minor star in Britain
when she released her jazz- influenced
debut album, Frank, in 2003. “Amy changed
the game,” says British singer Jess Glynne.
“There wasn’t one female artist at the time
who was being so brave.” But as Frank’s
promotional cycle wound down at the end
of 2004, “a lot of issues started to come
through,” says Shymansky. Winehouse
became adrift, unable to write. When
she met Fielder-Civil, a roguish Camden
scenester, “everything started plummeting
downhill,” recalls Shymansky. “By 2005
she had a stammer. It was awful what was
going on with her.” One executive refers
to Fielder-Civil as “that clown she married,”
but the film — although it only shows
him in existing footage — paints a more
nuanced picture. “Blake’s no angel, but he’s
not the son of Satan either,” says Gay-Rees.
“Amy would probably have moved in that
direction with or without him.” (Fielder-
Civil, now a father of two, recently said he
has been sober for a year, and that it’s unfair
to blame him for the death of Winehouse,
with whom he’s still “in love.”)
In 2005, Winehouse began a drastic
physical transformation into an emaciated,
early-’60s bad girl, complete
with beehive and tattoos. This striking
image — a punk-rock descendent of The
Shangri-Las — would boost her celebrity,
and eventually become a caricature. Her
diminished physique also revealed that her
eating disorder had resurfaced. Says James,
“It’s almost like the press telling her she
was curvy made her want to be super-thin.”
Beese remembers seeing her in the street
one day: “I could not believe how thin
she’d got. I was shocked.” When Fielder-
Civil broke off their affair and returned
to his girlfriend, the emotional trauma
uncorked Back to Black. “I write songs
because I’m f—ed in the head and need to
get something good out of something bad,”
Winehouse later told Spin.
“She was nocturnal,” says James.
“When I’d get into bed Amy would be
downstairs on the kitchen floor with a bottle
of vodka, her guitar and a pen. I would
always know when Amy was really down
because she’d listen to [The Shangri-Las’]
‘I Can Never Go Home Anymore.’ ”
Winehouse sobered up to record her
new songs with Remi in Miami and
Ronson in New York. Phil Spector’s
teenage melo dramas were a touchstone.
“It was boyfriend-girlfriend drama to
an infinite level,” says Ronson. “That’s
what her and Blake had.” Another point
of reference: hip-hop, with its swagger
and lyrical dexterity. “She learned how to
keep the urgency and edginess lyrically,
regardless of whether she was using a
50-year-old reference,” says Remi. “She
didn’t sing like an old jazz singer. She still
had the bite of a 19-year-old.”
Back to Black was an artistic and
commercial triumph, but could have been
even bigger if Winehouse hadn’t blown off
countless opportunities, including two
offers from Saturday Night Live. She craved
only Blake and oblivion: When the couple
married in May 2007, they were taking
heroin and crack together. In April 2008,
she strained her relationship with Ronson
when she failed, after five days of work with
him, to complete a James Bond theme song
for Quantum of Solace, wasting another
prestigious opportunity. Remi managed to
coax the doo-wop-influenced “Between the
Cheats” from her — the last new song she
would ever complete. “She had more of a
brother-sister relationship with [Ronson],”
says Remi. “She’d fight with him over whatever.
I said, ‘She can’t record? Yes, she can.
He just doesn’t know how to record her.’ ”
If life with Fielder-Civil was unhealthy,
then life without him was even worse.
Winehouse’s messy festival dates after
he was jailed for assault of a pub owner in
July 2008 marked a new low. “Once Blake
went down she started to fall out of love
with music,” says Dale Davis, her former
bandleader. “In the early days she’d have
music on all the time, always be singing.
But after that the music stopped.”
In January 2008, at Grainge’s behest,
Winehouse’s doctors drew up an official
ultimatum that both she and Grainge
signed: Unless she cleaned up, she
wouldn’t be allowed to perform or record.
After one serious relapse, Winehouse
quit drugs for good about a year later —
although not with the aid of rehab. An
extended stay in St. Lucia starting around
January 2009 seemed to help her break
from the past; Fielder-Civil filed for
divorce during that time, although the two
continued to see each other even after
the marriage officially ended. “We’d talk
about the really messed-up times,” says
James, himself a recovered addict. “Amy
would say, ‘Do you remember I used to be
a crackhead? What was that all about?’ ”
But she continued to drink too much and
eat too little, and the press still hounded
her. “It was horrible,” says James, her
roommate at the time. “We had paparazzi
outside our house for years.” By 2011
Winehouse’s recovery remained fragile.
Her first shows since 2008, in Brazil, went
well, but as her summer festival dates
approached she began drinking again. Raye
Cosbert, originally her tour manager, had
by then replaced Shymansky as her overall
manager; the film shows how the pressure
to perform contributed to Winehouse’s
unraveling. “She drank because of the fear”
of going onstage, says Shymansky, who
remained her friend. At her final concert.
 
‘SHE DIED AT THE BEGINNING OF HER STORY’
Caitlin Moran — the longtime English journalist and best-selling author of
How to Build a Girl — confronts the paradox of Winehouse’s turbulent artistic drive
 
Winehouse is the sound
of when you decide to
f— your life up — the day
you make the decision
to fall in love with the
wrong person, get pissed,
get high. It’s the sound
of someone incredibly
funny and charismatic
and talented setting
fire to themselves. But
with swagger. She came
from that school that
believes you put a chunk
of yourself — blood, guts,
tears, mad hair — into a
record. It’s so common,
in the early years of
creativity, to think you
can only summon up the
requisite heat by burning
yourself up. We respond
to anyone who wants to do
that, even though it’s
awful and destructive,
because that’s a form of
love: loving music so
much, wanting to make it,
be in it. We think we love
the destructiveness, but
we’re really responding
to the love.
My 11-year-old musicgeek
daughter has
recently become obsessed
with Amy — ran the
cartridge dry printing
out pictures of her,
learning all her songs
on the piano, analyzing
the jazz sevenths on
the left hand — and I
have to be very careful
explaining Winehouse
to her. I feel a little
bit like I’m letting a
child sip whiskey when
I find her listening to
Winehouse. She’s a risky
role model for a little
girl who wants to cause
trouble, as all little
girls worth knowing do.
I have to explain to her
that, yes, Winehouse
did amazing things, but
that she died without
ever leaving her dirty
Industrial Era, where you
burn up the fossil fuel
of your own heart in order
to form your empire, and
that she would have moved
on and found a purer,
non-damaging technology
to create with, if she
had lived longer. She
died at the beginning of
her story, so you can’t,
really, learn anything
about her. She was the
start of something.
She was the explosion at
the beginning of a movie.
But you cannot live as a
bomb that is going off,
over and over again. When
she died, the shrapnel
from her arrival still
hadn’t landed.

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#2 Uno

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 12:30 AM

Found the PDF for this too ..

It's on Sendspace

 

https://www.sendspace.com/file/v5ugm5


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Amy, if you are up there listening, thank you for sharing the incredible soundtracks of your life ...

#3 Ace of Hearts

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 04:04 AM

What a great article!

#4 Guest_Chris_*

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 01:28 PM

“Amy would probably have moved in that direction with or without him.”


That's what I've always thought.
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#5 amy_addicted

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 12:16 AM

“She drank because of the fear”

of going onstage, says Shymansky, who
remained her friend. At her final concert.

 

How can he be so sure about that? In another interview Nick Shymansky said the last time he was with Amy was six months before her death, that means that when was the Belgrade gig he had no communication with Amy.



#6 crol

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 07:18 PM

 

 

How can he be so sure about that? In another interview Nick Shymansky said the last time he was with Amy was six months before her death, that means that when was the Belgrade gig he had no communication with Amy.

 

If you read the PDF the article continues.



#7 HelloSailor

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 10:41 AM

 

 

How can he be so sure about that? In another interview Nick Shymansky said the last time he was with Amy was six months before her death, that means that when was the Belgrade gig he had no communication with Amy.

 

 

And yet she was meant to go to his wedding the next day, so they must've been in touch.


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#8 AdamDilFurce

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 10:04 AM

In my opinion you are not right. I am assured. I suggest it to discuss.




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