Police: Singer Amy Winehouse dies

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Her jazz-influenced 2003 debut album, “Frank,” was critically praised and sold well in Britain. It earned Winehouse an Ivor Novello songwriting award, two Brit nominations and a spot on the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize.

But Winehouse soon expressed dissatisfaction with the disc, saying she was “only 80 percent behind” the album.

“Frank” was followed by a slump during which Winehouse broke up with her boyfriend, suffered a long period of writer’s block and, she later said, smoked a lot of marijuana.

“I had writer’s block for so long,” she said in 2007. “And as a writer, your self-worth is literally based on the last thing you wrote. .. I used to think, ‘What happened to me?’

“At one point it had been two years since the last record and (the record company) actually said to me, ‘Do you even want to make another record?’ I was like, ‘I swear it’s coming.’ I said to them, ‘Once I start writing I will write and write and write. But I just have to start it.’”

The album she eventually produced was a sensation.

Released in Britain in the fall of 2006, “Back to Black” brought Winehouse global fame. Working with producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi and soul-funk group the Dap-Kings, Winehouse fused soul, jazz, doo-wop and, above all, a love of the girl-groups of the early 1960s with lyrical tales of romantic obsession and emotional excess.

“Back to Black” was released in the United States in March 2007 and went on to win five Grammy awards, including song and record of the year for “Rehab.”

Music critic John Aizlewood attributed her trans-Atlantic success to a fantastic voice and a genuinely original sound.

“A lot of British bands fail in America because they give America something Americans do better _ that’s why most British hip-hop has failed,” he said. “But they won’t have come across anything quite like Amy Winehouse.”

Winehouse’s rise was helped by her distinctive look _ messy beehive of hair, thickly lined cat eyes, girly tattoos _ and her tart tongue.

She was famously blunt in her assessment of her peers, once describing Dido’s sound as “background music _ the background to death” and saying of pop princess Kylie Minogue, “she’s not an artist … she’s a pony.”

The songs on “Black to Black” detailed breakups and breakdowns with a similar frankness. Lyrically, as in life, Winehouse wore her heart on her sleeve.

“I listen to a lot of ‘60s music, but society is different now,” Winehouse said in 2007. “I’m a young woman and I’m going to write about what I know.”

Even then, Winehouse’s performances were sometimes shambolic, and she admitted she is “a terrible drunk.” She acknowledged struggling with eating disorders and told a newspaper that she had been diagnosed as manic depressive but refused to take medication. Soon accounts of her erratic behavior, canceled concerts and drink- and drug-fueled nights began to multiply.

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