How Did Amy Winehouse Die? The True Story Behind The Singer’s Tragic Death

Amy Winehouse 2007
Amy Winehouse at the Eurockéennes of 2007. Photo by Rama.

Last updated on August 19th, 2022 at 11:01 pm

Amy Winehouse’s death sent shock waves around the world. Her unvarnished lyrics combined with a musical mix of jazz, soul, and RnB inspired fans and captivated critics. Yet her sudden rise to fame with albums such as Frank and Back to Black mirrored growing personal problems and struggles with addiction that sometimes took attention away from her music. Her shocking death at such a young age took many by surprise and left her fans pondering, how did Amy Winehouse die?

Amy Winehouse 2004
Amy Winehouse in concert at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, July 2004. Photo by Tom.beetz.

When Did Amy Winehouse Die?

On the 23rd of July, 2011 Amy Winehouse died at her Camden home in London.

How Old was Amy Winehouse when she Died?

Amy Winehouse was 27 years old when she died, making her a member of the 27 club

How Did Amy Winehouse Die?

What did Amy Winehouse die from? Amy Winehouse’s cause of death was a result of accidental alcohol poisoning. 

Amy Winehouse’s cause of death was confirmed by two separate coroner’s reports and it was found that Amy’s blood-alcohol level was 416mg per 100ml, or five times the legal limit to drive. 

She had been trying to quit drinking at the time and a period of sobriety resulted in reduced tolerance which likely contributed to her fatal relapse on the 23rd of July. 

Yet the true cause of Amy Winehouse’s death is likely more complicated than that. 

Those that were close to Amy, including her brother, Alex Winehouse, and close friend Naomi Parry revealed that the singer’s bulimia played a significant role in her death, making her weaker and less able to endure the effects of her lifestyle. 

Nor can Amy Winehouse’s death be explained without looking at her life. Her celebrated career was marked by controversy, a volatile personal life, and a persistent struggle with addiction that resulted in numerous stays in rehab. 

If we really want to understand how Amy Winehouse died, we need to take a closer look at her history.

Amy’s Early Life 

It can be hard to picture an Amy Winehouse before drugs and alcohol. Amy Winehouse had a childhood, although this artists’ years of innocence were cut much too short. 

From a young age, Amy Winehouse was noted as a bit of a rebel. After her parents split up she began to dabble in marijuana, had a few early tattoos, and was reported to cut school regularly.

She was also said to be committed, even at a young age, with following a career in music. After all, a number of her family members were professional musicians. Her grandmother Cynthia was involved in the jazz scene, having once dated noted saxophonist Ronnie Scott.  

It seemed natural, therefore, that she bought her first guitar at 14 and went on to write her own music. She also performed locally and with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, where she became a featured female vocalist.

A precocious talent with a unique voice, perhaps it’s no surprise when she was signed by Island Records around 2002.

Amy Winehouse 2007
Amy Winehouse singing at the Virgin Festival, Pimlico, Baltimore, Maryland, USA on 4 August 2007. Photo by Greg Gebhardt from Laguna Beach, CA, USA.

Fame and Turbulent Relationships

Her big break came in 2003 with the release of Frank, her debut album, when she was just 20 years old. The album later went on to achieve platinum sales and secured the artist an Ivor Novello award for Best Contemporary Song and two BRIT award nominations.

Yet already there were hints that not all was well. Some of the songs she wrote hinted at alcohol troubles and a hidden track on the album called “Mr. Magic” discussed her relationship with drugs. It included the lyrics “Without you I’m misery/blue without my green,” seemingly referring to cannabis. 

Following the success of Frank, the young artist bought her first home in the Camden neighborhood of London, an area associated with crime, music, and hard living. She was a regular in the local pubs there, with her drink of choice being the ‘rickstasy’ from The Hawley Arms.

It was on a pub crawl in the area she met Blake Fielder-Civil, a video production assistant with a history of drug use. Amy went on to fall heavily for Fielder-Civil and the two began a tumultuous relationship marking a turning point in her life.

Her drug use deepened in this period and Fielder-Civil was quoted in a tabloid as admitting he introduced Amy to crack cocaine and heroin.  There were also reports that self-harm went on during the relationship and that the two would become violent with one another.

This seemed to be confirmed in August 2007 when the two were seen publicly looking disheveled and blood-stained after an alleged argument. In the same year, Amy admitted that alcohol could make her more aggressive.

However, the apparent turbulence of the relationship may have had a deeper purpose, with Amy viewing the instability of the duo as a creative wellspring for her music. As Amy told one interviewer, “it sounds such a wank thing to say, but I need to get some headaches goin’ to write about.” 

It’s possible she had a point. It was during this period that her second album, Back to Black, released in 2006, largely detailing her relationship with Blake and issues such as infidelity, love, and heartbreak. Reaching sales of almost 4 million in the UK, the album went on to become a critically acclaimed smash hit. It also produced some of Winehouse’s most memorable songs, such as “Back to Black,” “Me & Mr. Jones,” and “Tears Dry On Their Own.”

Amy Winehouse’s Downward Spiral 

However, as her musical star ascended it seems her personal demons rose with it.

Amy’s manager Nick Godwyn attempted to convince her to go to rehab as early as 2005. Amy hated the idea and argued that it would detract from her career. The event spawned the song, “Rehab,” which became not only one of her most famous tracks but also a poignant reflection of her own destructive lifestyle.

Then in 2006 Amy’s grandmother Cynthia died. Amy Winehouse’s tattoos are famous, yet perhaps her most well-known is that of her grandmother on her right arm. The two had a strong relationship and her family has since said her death destabilized the troubled artist. 

The result was a growing drug problem that helps us better understand how Amy Winehouse died.

In 2007 Amy was forced to cancel a number of shows across the UK citing ill health. Her troubled personal life also played out increasingly in the press. On one occasion, The Sun released images purportedly of Winehouse smoking crack cocaine. Winehouse eventually took legal action against leading paparazzi firms and prevented them from filming her in the vicinity of her home. 

She also had her own problems with the law. This included an arrest in Bergen, Norway for cannabis possession in 2007 and multiple charges of common assault spanning several years. 

As a result of these legal woes, she was unable to appear at the Grammys during what was likely the most successful night of her career. Despite winning five awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year, her visa application was denied, meaning she had to perform remotely via satellite. To add insult to injury, her husband at the time, Blake Fielder-Civil, could not be present, as he was incarcerated for a 2006 charge of assault.

Nor was her health left untouched by her lifestyle. It was reported around 2008 that Winehouse suffered from lung problems that might well lead to emphysema as well as an irregular heartbeat.  

Possibly as a result of health woes and diminished control, Amy made the effort to quit drugs around 2008. However, despite going to rehab multiple times, and by many accounts kicking the substance abuse problem that had long plagued her, two issues remained. One was alcoholism and the other an eating disorder. Both of these would become central in answering the question, “how did Amy Winehouse die?”

Amy Winehouse Coachella 2007
Amy Winehouse Coachella Festival 2007. Photo by MaggieJumps.

Amy Winehouse’s Last Days and Tragic Demise

During the final portion of her career, Amy Winehouse had issues touring and performing live.

In a May 2009 appearance at a jazz festival on St Lucia, there were reports Winehouse looked unsteady on stage and appeared bored. A performance in Dubai was cut short following booing from the crowd. 

It was also around this time her tumultuous marriage to Fielder-Civil ended in divorce, with him citing infidelity.

There were hopes of a new album release yet they didn’t transpire. In March 2011 she made her last studio recording, a duet with one of her idols, Tony Bennett.

Amy Winehouse’s final performance came when she performed in Belgrade, Serbia later that year. It was planned as part of a 12-leg European comeback tour.

Unfortunately, when the singer appeared drunk and struggled to perform, the concert was declared a failure.

The show was Amy Winehouse’s final performance and seemed a sad ending for an artist renowned for their soulful live act, though some sources applauded its rawness. 

Regardless, the remaining shows on the tour were shortly canceled, with Winehouse stating she needed to focus on personal recovery. 

By this late stage that largely meant her battle with alcohol addiction. Her doctor Christina Romete prescribed her Librium to help with alcohol withdrawal and attempted to get the singer to try psychological therapy. However, she refused mental health support and had issues remaining clean.

It was this alcohol problem, likely coupled with bulimia, that became central in answering the question, “how did Amy Winehouse die?”

During Amy Winehouse’s last days, her bodyguard, Andrew Morris and her doctor noted that Amy was drinking again.

Amy Winehouse Last Words

It is believed that the artist’s last words were: “I don’t want to die.”

These words were uttered after a long period of abstinence from alcohol when Dr. Romete visited her the night before she died. Therefore it is likely that Dr. Romete may have been the one to hear what may have been Amy Winehouse’s last words.

It seemed the graveness of her situation was not lost on her as she said rather hauntingly, “I don’t want to die.” 

In the afternoon of the next day at 3 pm, her bodyguard found the star unresponsive and called emergency services. Two ambulances later arrived to confirm that she had passed.

Amy Winehouse died at 3:54 pm at her home in Camden, London. She was 27 years old at the time.

Now it is possible that the star said something to her bodyguard, or another member of her household before she died. It is also possible that she may have called a friend. But to date, no one has come forward, meaning the words Dr. Romete heard were likely the last uttered by the star. 

Amy Winehouse 2007
Amy Winehouse at Bowery Ballroom, March 2007. Photo by Daniel Arnold.

Amy Winehouse’s Funeral

What followed was a private funeral at Edgewarebury Lane Cemetery in which close friends such as Nick Grimshaw and Kenny Osbourne attended.

Amy was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and her family planned to sit a two-day shiva for her (a mourning period in Judaism). 

Following Amy Winehouse’s funeral, the wider world responded to the tragedy with a public outpouring of grief. 

Numerous celebrities, including Russel Brand, Tony Bennet, Lady Gaga, and Kelly Osbourne mourned the singer in personal statements.

Adele honored Winehouse on her blog, writing, “I don’t think she ever realized just how brilliant she was and how important she is, but that just makes her even more charming.”

Amy Winehouse Last Photo

It is believed that the last photo ever taken of Amy Winehouse was taken on July 20, 2011, with a 16-year-old fan named Hannah Hardman.

The photo was taken by Amy’s goddaughter at an after-party following her appearance at an event earlier that evening. 

Amy Winehouse Last Performance

On the day the last photo of Amy Winehouse was taken, she attended an event with her goddaughter Dionne and the two of them supported a boy band called The Wanted. The two of them appeared on stage for the last song. 

Although this was the last time the artist was seen in public, this technically wasn’t her concert. The last full performance or concert given by Amy Winehouse was on June 18, 2011, in Belgrade, Serbia. 

This performance did not go well, however, because she appeared drunk on stage and was unable to remember the name of her band members. She was booed off the stage and this brought her manager to cancel the rest of her European tour. 

Amy Winehouse Madame Tussands
Amy Winehouse at Madame Tussauds London. Photo by Luke Rauscher.

Amy Winehouse Autopsy

Amy Winehouse’s autopsy revealed that the artist had indulged in alcohol before her death. Thus, this led the corner to eventually rule her death as a “death by misadventure” meaning she drank more alcohol than her body could process. 

Amy Winehouse Net Worth

When the artist died, she had a net worth of approximately $4 million.

Amy Winehouse Songs

Amy Winehouse’s songs continue to live on even though the artist is no longer around to sing them. Below are her most popular songs. 

  • Back to Black
  • Valerie
  • Rehab
  • You Know I’m No Good
  • Tears Dry On Their Own
  • Love is a Losing Game
  • What is it About Men?
  • Between the Cheats

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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