With the news that British R&B star and tabloid target Amy Winehouse has died from as yet undisclosed causes, two things are clear: the music world lost one of its most passionately soulful voices, and this is a tragedy that has surprised no one. Winehouse's struggles with drugs and alcohol were often in the public eye and even addressed in her own music, like her best-known hit "Rehab."
Throughout her colorful, troubled life, Winehouse fought many demons: addiction, an eating disorder, and a particularly tumultuous love life.
Her struggles to stay sober
Although she first broke through to international audiences with a song that found her saying "no, no, no" to her record company's claims that she belonged in rehab, it didn't take long for fans to realize she did have a problem with alcohol abuse, frequently appearing in what appeared to be a drunken state while onstage (one time she exited the stage to vomit) and during TV appearances. Hospitalizations, allegedly related to drug or drinking binges, were frequent. A leaked video of a woman alleged to be Winehouse smoking what appeared to be crack pipe and snorting cocaine caused a tabloid sensation and caused police to investigate the matter, though charges weren't brought against her.
Winehouse was aware of her problems: while she initially resisted her record company's attempt to put her in rehab, she willingly checked in to a center around that time. And in 2009, Winehouse's father Mitch-who had frequently voiced his concerns over her health to the media-said she had entered a program to deal with her drug addiction, but he admitted that there were "slight backward steps -- not drug backward steps, more drink backward steps if you follow my drift."
Her father wasn't so coy about her addiction issues: he once told UK reporters that his daughter had lung damage from smoking crack cocaine and cigarettes and that her body was giving signs of what could lead to early stage emphysema.
Also in the smoking rotation was marijuana: in 2007, Winehouse and her then-husband were arrested in Norway and fined for marijuana possession.
Winehouse herself resisted confessional 60 Minutes-type interviews, but she didn't exactly try to hide her history with drugs and alcohol either. When asked by Rolling Stone in 2006 what her worst vice was, she simply responded, "Mainly that I'm quite reckless and always throw caution to the wind."
Her friend and fellow British bad girl singer Lily Allen once had this to say about her:
"I know Amy Winehouse very well. And she is very different to what people portray her as being. Yes, she does get out of her mind on drugs sometimes, but she is also a very clever, intelligent, witty, funny person who can hold it together. You just don't see that side."