Amy Winehouse, Singer of Stormy Genius, Finally Succumbs to Her Demons

By Walter Armstrong 07/23/11

The British torch singer, 27-year-old Grammy winner and chronic drug addict reportedly OD'd early Saturday morning in London.

Whitehouse on the cover of "Rolling Stone," 2008. Photo via

The first reports of Amy Whitehouse's death in her North London home are breaking across the Internet. It remains unclear whether or not she took her life or died from an accidental overdose.

Whitehouse's torrential drug and alcohol addictions were as well known as her stunning if stormy genius. Her great originality was to be a skinny, homely Jewish girl who mixed R&B, soul and Jazz. She'd get up onstage in a bizarre superbeehive hairdo and a skimpy little dress and belt out her songs in full diva mode that had critics quickly comparing her to Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin and other legends. Her second album, Back to Black, was a sensation, establishing her global fame, and winning her five Grammys.

Her short life was devastated by drug and alcohol abuse, self-mutilation and many other symptoms of an apparent borderline personality disorder: Romances with Bad Men, legal problems, failed rehabs and failed comebacks—leaving her with two long-suffering but utterly mystified parents—all of it accelerating into a death spiral after her worldwide success earned her big bucks.

Her 2007 hit, "Rehab," whose refrain was a defiantly ironic "They try to make me go to rehab/I say no, no, no" may be as good an epitaph as any.

The details of her death and tributes to her brief, brilliant, crashing career will be headlines in the days and weeks ahead. Stay tuned.

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Walter Armstrong is the Medical Editor at  Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness and the former deputy editor of The Fix. You can find him on Linkedin.