In this exclusive Dailymail interview Janis Winehouse reveals her daughter’s final days.
Janis talks about her daughter Amy and her car crash life. From her nicknames Hurricane Amy and Pushy to Amy’s love of sweets.
Janis also talks about how from an early age Amy was accident prone and eager to swallow anything that required stomach pumping.
To confessing in an interview with People Magazine that Amy might have had Tourette’s Syndrome (involuntary control over what one says) from looking back through the copious notebooks that Amy made that contained her writings, song lyrics, and obsessive lists about everything, Janis writes that they ‘show little sign of her being racked with the kind of mental illness she struggled with in the last few years of her life.’
“I knew in my heart that Amy was angel and devil rolled into one,” says Janis while admitting she didn’t see the perfect storm brewing in her daughter that precipitated a free fall.
EXCLUSIVE: Amy Winehouse’s mother suspected the singer had Tourette’s and reveals her tragic final days – she cut her face, stubbed cigarettes out on her cheek, lost teeth and bones stuck out of her knees
- Tragic Amy Winehouse had two nicknames growing up, Hurricane Amy and Nudge, i.e. pushy
- ‘Loving Amy became a relentless cycle of thinking I would lose her, then not losing her, waiting to lose her,’ reveals mother in new memoir
- Janis Winehouse says Amy loved sweets so much she tried to steal them from the synagogue on festive Shabbat days
- Amy was cutting at age nine and by 15 she was downing Southern Comfort mixed with lemonade
- Janis did not approve of ‘no-hoper’ Blake Fielder-Civil who introduced Amy to heroin and cocaine
- Winehouse’s mother says there was not a moment Amy didn’t have a toxic substance in her body
- Amy died face down in her own bed in Camden, North London, alone on July 23, 2011
Adorable but unbearable, loud and boisterous, Grammy-winning English singer and songwriter, Amy Winehouse was nicknamed ‘Hurricane Amy’ as a young child.
She refused to be ignored growing up in North London in the early 1980s, earning another nickname, Nudge, a Jewish term for pushing the boundaries. From an early age, she was accident prone and eager to swallow anything from cellophane to toads that required stomach pumping.
Telling her to stop only proved to be a green light that encouraged her to step over yet another boundary.
Refusing to be mediocre, she became invincible in her own mind, wildly sentimental and wildly ill-tempered.
Amy evolved into a one-woman soap opera with a car crash lifestyle. She had created a persona as ‘an over the top gangster’s moll’ with an unmistakable beehive hairdo that was actually a wig, winged eyeliner and tats covering her body.
But there was no return from the rebellious lifestyle she had chosen and turned it inwards. She became a slave to the drugs that took her life in 2011 at 27.
‘She was a singer, a superstar, an addict and a young woman who hurtled towards an untimely death. To me, though, she is simply Amy. She was my daughter and my friend, and she will be with me forever’, Janis Winehouse writes in her memoir, Loving Amy, A Mother’s Story, published by Thomas Dunne, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.
Janis suffered through early stages of multiple sclerosis while Amy was growing up. She wanted to write the story of the softer and unseen side of her daughter before her memory was gone.
Looking back through the copious notebooks that Amy made that contained her writings, song lyrics, and obsessive lists about everything, Janis writes that they ‘show little sign of her being racked with the kind of mental illness she struggled with in the last few years of her life’ – or what she confesses in an interview with People Magazine, Amy might have had Tourette’s syndrome, involuntary control over what one says.
‘Loving Amy became a relentless cycle of thinking I would lose her, then not losing her, waiting to lose her…’
Amy and her mother would hold hands until she left home at 18 and continued to call her Mummy all her life.
Janis doesn’t believe the speculation that Amy wanted to die. Her little girl, who looked so much like Janis, dreamed one day she would have children.
Amy loved Michael Jackson after seeing the film Moonwalker when she was five. ‘Michael Jackson is handsome. I love him,’ Amy said.
She perfected an all dancing, all singing Shirley Temple routine and loved her Cabbage Patch dolls Fe and Melina as well as sweets – so much she tried to steal them from the synagogue on festive Shabbat days.
She just wasn’t cut out for academics. She loved to sing – from Mary Poppins to Jewish hymns.
She loved jazz, American songwriters, Broadway tunes, Hip hop, girl bands – her life was all music.
When Janis and Mitchell Winehouse divorced Amy’s problems at school escalated. She became more unmanageable, loud, intimidating and a bully
‘I knew in my heart that Amy was angel and devil rolled into one’.
At nine years old, Amy had a ‘lattice of scars on her arms’ from cutting herself and later talked about her history of depression.
She was caught shoplifting at age ten, and pierced her lip in the back of a classroom. By age twelve she was smoking in the backyard and three years later downing Southern Comfort and lemonade drinks.
She was smoking cannabis every day and asking her mother to drive her to pick up the drugs.
As a pharmacist, Janis recognized her daughter’s escalating dependencies and denials that had become a coping mechanism. She didn’t judge Amy though and her daughter still confided in her.
She smoked heroin and told Janis ‘it’s not for me’.
Janis believes Amy feared success but feared being ignored even more.
Her rapid decent into more drugs escalated when she met ‘no-hoper’ Blake Fielder-Civil who introduced Amy to heroin and cocaine and whom she later married.
Amy became more hooked on drugs than Blake and was swimming in drinks and drugs as well as becoming bulimic on an ‘amazing new diet – it’s called eating and throwing up’.
She was becoming more paranoid and aggressive and always in character.
Janis viewed Amy’s fears as far deeper than the euphoria of winning. Her child was drowning in self-doubt but signed a record deal with Universal-Island Records, Ltd. late in 2002 that produced the album Frank.
Amy was hesitant to sign on that dotted line because she ‘had been rejected by most of the institutions she’d set foot in and now there were people suddenly saying “We accept you. We think you’re special”.
‘That became profoundly threatening to her because I don’t think she thought she was special at all’.
At twenty, Amy was promoting her new album and winning awards for her songwriting when Janis’s mother-in law, Cynthia Winehouse died, and Amy lost her comforting grandmother.
The only comfort now was Blake Fielder-Civil with his hard drugs – heroin and cocaine.
Her music career was off the charts and her next album, Back to Black, became the top selling album of 2007.
Amy performed with the Rolling Stones but she didn’t handle the pressure of performing well and drank more alcohol.
At twenty-three, Amy was riding the crest of a wave of success and her mother admits she didn’t see the perfect storm brewing in her daughter that precipitated a free fall.
She had a seizure after taking a cocktail of heroin, cocaine, ketamine and marijuana. Her stomach was pumped and she now looked skeletal.
She went to rehab but Blake and drugs traveled with her and Amy called for a helicopter to take them out of there.
Blake was arrested and jailed for GBH. Janis hoped that their separation would help Amy but drugs now defined her.
She was living in a pigsty, a tooth was missing, her skin blotchy and pimply.
Janis could see Amy’s tiny body disintegrating, the bones sticking out of her knees, but she felt helpless.
Invited to perform at the Grammy Awards in 2008, Amy wasn’t allowed to leave England for the US because of the cocaine in her system. But she won no less than five Grammys that year.
Amy was diagnosed with impetigo in 2008, a highly contagious disease that attacks the immune system.
There were blisters across her cheeks.
She refused to go into rehab and decided to detox at home – and she started by lighting up a crack pipe.
She went on a two-day binge of alcohol and drugs, cut her arms and her face, put out a cigarette on her cheek.
She punched a mirror badly cutting her hand.
Janis and Mitchell talking about ‘sectioning’ their daughter – keeping her in a hospital against her will but Janis couldn’t pull the trigger.
Amy suffered seizures and a CT scans revealed mucus around her lungs and a growth in her chest cavity that turned out to be benign.
She had emphysema from smoking a crack pipe.
Janis believes Amy’s life scared her and she desperately wanted to change but didn’t know how.
There was not a moment she didn’t have a toxic substance in her body.
Janis felt helpless but writes that she always believed Amy had the ability to recover. She just wasn’t seeing all aspects of Amy’s life and believed her little girl when she said, “Mum, I’m ready to seek help’. I don’t want to be an alcoholic’.
After losing so much weight, Amy took to wearing two padded bras and then decided on beast implants. She also talked about getting a nose job.
Amy had been booed during a Caribbean tour in 2009 when she was drunk on stage.
By 2010, her addictions had a life of their own.
She was surrounded by chaos. Mother and daughter were pulling apart.
Amy was drinking thirty times more than the safe limit by early 2011. She was still bulimic and eating scrambled eggs so that she could purge them more easily.
Her thyroid was underactive and she hadn’t had a period for seven years.
She rejected professional help.
On stage on a European tour in 2011, she was drunk, forgot the words to songs fell over and shuffled around. The rest of the tour was cancelled.
On July 23, she died face down in her own bed in Camden, alone – after weeks of sobriety and then falling off the wagon.
Amy was buried in Edgwarebury Cemetary in north London in a simple black box.
Before burial, her friends washed her, applied her make-up and attached the beehive to her hair.
Amy’s funeral was a beginning for her mother.
‘Each month since that day has brought me more closure on Amy’s life, but even so, I can never say goodbye’.
Janis wears Amy’s gold Star of David and her t-shirts. There are days when she feels at peace with Amy, nights when she wakes up crying.
She celebrates Amy’s talent and the great gift she gave to the world.