- Associated Press - Saturday, July 23, 2011

LONDON (AP) - Amy Winehouse, the beehived soul-jazz diva whose self-destructive habits overshadowed a distinctive musical talent, was found dead Saturday in her London home, police said. She was 27.

Winehouse shot to fame in 2006 with the album “Back to Black,” whose blend of jazz, soul, rock and classic pop was a global hit. It won five Grammys and made Winehouse _ with her black beehive hairdo and old-fashioned sailor tattoos _ one of music’s most recognizable stars. But the British star’s personal life, with its drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders and destructive relationships, soon took over her career.

Police confirmed that a 27-year-old female was pronounced dead at the home in Camden Square northern London; the cause of death was not immediately known. London Ambulance Services said Winehouse had died before the two ambulance crews it sent arrived at the scene.

“Everyone who was involved with Amy is shocked and devastated. Our thoughts are with her family and friends,” said Chris Goodman, a spokesman for her publicity representatives. He said her family will issue a statement when they are ready.


Singer and actress Kelly Osbourne, who helped Winehouse check into a drug addiction treatment facility in 2008, was one of many who grieved for the singer on Twitter.

“I cant even breath right now im crying so hard i just lost 1 of my best friends. i love you forever Amy and will never forget the real you!” she tweeted.

The singer’s father, Mitch Winehouse, had arrived in New York this weekend to prepare for his U.S. performing debut Monday night at the Blue Note jazz club, but upon receiving news of his daughter’s death was heading back home to London to be with his family, his publicist Don Lucoff said.

An ambulance could be seen parked beneath the trees outside her London home, and the whole street was cordoned off by police tape. Officers kept onlookers away from the scene, though fans began to gather and lay flowers at the edge of the cordon.

Last month, Winehouse canceled her European comeback tour after she swayed and slurred her way through barely recognizable songs in her first show in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Booed and jeered off stage, she flew home and her management said she would take time off to recover.

Winehouse was last publicly seen on at a London concert on Wednesday when she joined her goddaughter Dionne Bromfield on stage. In that impromptu appearance, Winehouse danced with Bromfield and encouraged the audience to buy her album, before leaving the stage.

“I didn’t go out looking to be famous,” Winehouse told the Associated Press when “Back to Black” was released. “I’m just a musician.”

But in the end, the music was overshadowed by fame, and by Winehouse’s demons. Tabloids lapped up the erratic stage appearances, drunken fights, stints in hospital and rehab clinics. Performances became shambling, stumbling train wrecks, watched around the world on the Internet.

Born in 1983 to Mitch Winehouse, taxi driver, and his pharmacist wife Janis, Winehouse grew up in the north London suburbs, and was set on a showbiz career from an early age. When she was 10, she and a friend formed a rap group, Sweet ‘n’ Sour _ Winehouse was Sour _ that she later described as “the little white Jewish Salt ‘n’ Pepa.”

She attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School, a factory for British music and acting moppets, later went to the Brit School, a performing arts academy in the “Fame” mold, and was originally signed to “Pop Idol” svengali Simon Fuller’s 19 Management.

But Winehouse was never a packaged teen star, and always resisted being pigeonholed.

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