In the era of VH1 Top 20 music video countdowns and everything Fuse TV, one artist tried to prove that not everything had to feel so plastic. Music could still be original, pop stars could still be rebellious and she was set to prove it. Amy Winehouse’s reinvention came to fruition on October 27th, 2006 with the release of her album Back to Black. Like many great successes, tragedy would soon unfold, but Amy Winehouse’s second album has become a cemented fixture in music history and her legacy will only continue to grow.
By the time 2006 rolled around, Amy Winehouse was ready to take control. The singer was not happy with her last album, Frank, and she soon discovered a fascination with soul and roots-rock music from the 1950’s and 60’s. Winehouse was able to capture the essence—the grittiness and tension that came with the time, and she embraced it as her own. Working with producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, Winehouse created a persona that was a little bit 1963, but sat squarely in 2007. None of it felt forced. It was her most authentic self.
From Roots to Roots
Amy Winehouse found immediate success with Back to Black. Her first single off the album, “Rehab” sent waves through the world, entering the UK Singles chart in the top 20 before the track even had a physical release. It eventually would go on to reach five-times platinum and become the UK’s best-selling album of 2007. “Rehab” even managed to peak at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Time magazine went on to name the track as the magazine’s “Best Song of the Year”. The song even won “Song of the Year”, “Record of the Year”, and “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance” at the 2008 Grammy’s. Combined with a slew of subsequent singles like “You Know I’m No Good”, Back to Black reached number two on the Billboard 200 and Amy Winehouse became an international phenom.
She began touring to support the album in September of 2007 and performed nearly the entire festival circuit, including Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and more. Despite her large-scale international success, some audiences did not take kindly to Winehouse’s performance. Opening night of a 17-date tour beginning in Birmingham was marred by booing and walk-outs as Winehouse was “stumbling around the stage and, unforgivably, swearing at the audience”. After appearing to be intoxicated at several other appearances, Amy Winehouse cancelled all appearances through the end of 2007 on doctor’s orders for “rest”.
On Top of the World
The noise from her critics grew larger, but 2008 was still an enormous year for the singer. Her touring schedule was relentless, performing everywhere from boutique and museum openings to Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party. Back to Black became the world’s seventh biggest album of the year and everything seemed to be pointing in the right direction. But then, Amy Winehouse vanished.
The singer took a long-awaited break from touring, but when Universal Music began pressing her on a follow-up to Back to Black in late 2008, they learned that work on the album had not even began. When she re-appeared in May of 2009 to perform with The Specials in St. Lucia, she appeared intoxicated on stage and forgot several lyrics. This trend continued into other high-profile performances where Winehouse cut sets short or stopped performing mid-song. On June 21, 2011 Winehouse would cancel the last of her shows and public appearances to “sort herself out”.
An Ironic Tragedy
Despite several years of build-up for its sequel, Back to Black would be her last album. Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23rd, 2011 at the age of 27. Her substance abuse issues were long on display for the international media, and with her inability to keep them from affecting her performances, the singer only continued to spiral. Upon her death, both of her albums reentered the Billboard charts with her career-launching single, “Rehab”.
The track’s irony was not lost on many and despite the loss of Amy Winehouse, Back to Black continues to be a critical influencer on modern-pop music. The signature power she possessed in her voice was driven by the authenticity to hold nothing back and can still be found in megastars like Adele. Even acts as widely varied as widely as Paramore and Ellie Goulding can’t help but give credit to Winehouse’s masterpiece. Ultimately, Back to Black found a safe spot amongst the greatest of UK’s albums and today is certified 12x platinum.
Live Music Venue
Amy Winehouse’s legacy lives on at Howl at the Moon! Howl is the ultimate venue for your next night out, with table reservations, semi-private space and full venue buyouts available for an incredible celebration. We also love to host birthday parties, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, holiday parties, corporate events and more.
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