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Amy Winehouse's Work Later in Life Affected By Pain from Her Father's Affair

Esther NJeri
Sep 20, 2021
06:30 P.M.
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It is not uncommon for artists to find inspiration from their own pained lives, and it was no different for Amy Winehouse, whose music work was greatly influenced by pain caused by her father's lifestyle choices.

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Amy Winehouse was a singer and songwriter, and her music was, and still is, considered deep and expressive. And yet, many may not know that her music career was born of her childhood pain.

Amy was born to Mitch Winehouse and Janis Seaton in 1983 as a second child. Her elder brother Alex was born only three years earlier, in 1980.

Mitch Winehouse and his daughter, musician Amy Winehouse | Source: Getty Images

Mitch Winehouse and his daughter, musician Amy Winehouse | Source: Getty Images

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Soon after Amy's birth, Mitch took on an affair with a co-worker, Jane, which ran on for close to a decade before leaving his family in 1993 and moving in with his mistress. They married in 1996.

And while he thought his kids were too young to understand what was happening, that was not the case, as Amy and her brother Alex were aware of the ongoing struggle in their parents' marriage and the ensuing affair.

Singer Amy Winehouse performs live on stage at HMV Oxford Street on January 15, 2004 in London. | Source: Getty Images

Singer Amy Winehouse performs live on stage at HMV Oxford Street on January 15, 2004 in London. | Source: Getty Images

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People reported his interview with BBC, where he expressed his thoughts on how his daughter reacted to the affair. He said:

"I thought Amy was over [the affair] pretty quickly – in fact it felt at the time Amy felt no effect at all."

Consequently, Mitch's decisions would come to play a massive part in Amy's life as an adult, and even though Amy did not express her thoughts then, she would later let her anger towards her father known in a song named "What It Is About Men."

Singer, songwriter Amy Winehouse in Rotterdam, Netherlands. March 11, 2004 | Source: Getty Images

Singer, songwriter Amy Winehouse in Rotterdam, Netherlands. March 11, 2004 | Source: Getty Images

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The affair was never a secret, even to the kids, and Mitch says that Amy and Alex knew and referred to his mistress as his "work wife."

With the affair being out in the open and his children not expressing their thoughts, Mitch did not realize the impact his decisions had on his kids until they were adults.

While he says his decisions may have ruined Amy's childhood, he insists that had he been a better parent, there was no guarantee that Amy would have led an entirely different life.

British singer Amy Winehouse (L) hugs her mother Janis Winehouse after accepting a Grammy Award at the Riverside Studios for the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony via video link on February 10, 2008 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

British singer Amy Winehouse (L) hugs her mother Janis Winehouse after accepting a Grammy Award at the Riverside Studios for the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony via video link on February 10, 2008 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

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After her parents split, Amy became a rebel and started cutting school, smoking marijuana, and collecting tattoos in an attempt to declare her independence. In the years that followed, she also started taking an interest in music.

Through her pain and deep confessionals, Amy began making beautiful music, and at only 20 years old, she released her first album, "Frank." It became an instant No. 3 British Billboard hit.

It was when [Amy] was troubled that she wrote her best lyrics.

 Amy Winehouse during a Concert at The Ambassador - March 2, 2007 in Dublin, Ireland. | Source: Getty Images

Amy Winehouse during a Concert at The Ambassador - March 2, 2007 in Dublin, Ireland. | Source: Getty Images

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The album won her awards and, at the same time, shed light on the musician's vices — her susceptibility to alcohol and drug use. In fact, she sang about substance abuse in one of the songs, "Mr. Magic," on her album.

Her beautiful music resonated with many, yet the irony of her self-deprecating lyrics was not lost. Her songs "You Know I'm No Good," "Back to Black," "Addicted," and "Rehab " were all indicators of the downward spiral she was on.

Her sudden rise to fame, unfortunately, did her more harm than good and wedged her further into her addictions. Yet, it was during these troubled times that Amy produced some of her most excellent music.

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Amy Winehouse performs live on the V stage during Day Two of V Festival 2008 at Hylands Park on August 17, 2008 in Chelmsford, England | Source: Getty Images

Amy Winehouse performs live on the V stage during Day Two of V Festival 2008 at Hylands Park on August 17, 2008 in Chelmsford, England | Source: Getty Images

With a huge paycheck and lots of time in her hands, Amy started spending time in London’s Camden neighborhood, where she met Blake Fielder-Civil, a charmer and addict who would become her worst addiction yet.

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Soon after their meeting, Amy began going hard on the drugs, and her life became one big rollercoaster. Fielder-Civil introduced her to heroin, and in the spur of the new relationship, they tattooed each other's names on their bodies.

However, their relationship was anything but healthy. Theirs was an on and off affair, with most of the offs being caused by Fielder-Civil's frequent infidelities and time in prison.

Amy Winehouse, her father Mitch and mother Janis pose with Amy's award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for 'Love Is A Losing Game' at the 53rd Ivor Novello Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel on May 22, 2008 in London, England.| Source: Getty Images

Amy Winehouse, her father Mitch and mother Janis pose with Amy's award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for 'Love Is A Losing Game' at the 53rd Ivor Novello Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel on May 22, 2008 in London, England.| Source: Getty Images

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While many sympathized with her addictions — both to substance and to Fielder-Civil — Amy herself admitted that the drama in her life provided her the best music content, and it was when she was troubled that she wrote her best lyrics.

It begged the question of whether Amy was deliberately seeking out chaos, whether consciously or by impulse, to help write good music as she once told an interviewer:

“It sounds like such a wrong thing to say, but I need to get some headaches goin’ to write about.”

Amy Winehouse during Isle of Wight Festival - Day 2 at Seaclose Park in Newport, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. | Source: Getty Images

Amy Winehouse during Isle of Wight Festival - Day 2 at Seaclose Park in Newport, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. | Source: Getty Images

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By the time 2005 was coming around, Nick Godwyn, Amy's manager, was tired of seeing her waste away her life and career in drug dens and pubs, and in an attempt to save her, he tried convincing her to enroll in rehab.

Her first attempt at getting clean did not end well. She would, however, make more attempts at getting sober, but her life would often be a depiction of sadness and sordidness, and soon after, she would relapse.

At one point, she dated a chef, Alex Claire, and her life seemed to take on a new direction, one of calm and stability, but the relationship was short-lived, and nine months later, they broke up.

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Amy Winehouse during AOL'S Winter Warmer gig - November 29, 2006 at Forum in Kentish Town in London, Great Britain. | Source: Getty Images

Amy Winehouse during AOL'S Winter Warmer gig - November 29, 2006 at Forum in Kentish Town in London, Great Britain. | Source: Getty Images

Soon after, Amy and Fielder-Civil reconnected, and the cycle repeated itself all over again. It got so bad that by the summer of 2008, Amy was diagnosed with emphysema and was warned against any more drinking or smoking.

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In 2011, she checked into rehab again and got out in May, looking determined to turn her life around. Her final performance was at Belgrade in Serbia, and at the time, she was nothing but a shadow of her former self.

 Amy Winehouse's father Mitch Winehouse unveil a waxwork figure of Grammy Award winning singer Amy Winehouse at Madame Tussauds on July 23, 2008 in London, England | Source: Getty Images

Amy Winehouse's father Mitch Winehouse unveil a waxwork figure of Grammy Award winning singer Amy Winehouse at Madame Tussauds on July 23, 2008 in London, England | Source: Getty Images

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In June, Amy was found in her home, having died from alcohol poisoning. The coroner announced that the alcohol level in her blood had been fatal. The music icon's bright future was cut short at only 28.

Her father, who she had since reconciled with, made it clear that the pain he caused her during her childhood may have been the inspiration behind her music, but he was definitely not the reason for her addiction and consequent demise.

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