LONDON (Reuters) – Amy Winehouse, one of the most talented singers of her generation whose hit song “Rehab” summed up her struggles with addiction, died in London on Saturday at the age of 27.
The Grammy winner, famed for her black beehive hair, soulful voice and erratic behaviour on and off stage, was found dead at her new home in Camden a month after a shambolic performance in Serbia forced her to cancel her entire European tour.
Police were called to the address at around 1500 GMT and nearly five hours later the body was removed for a post mortem after it appeared she had lost her battle with drink and drugs.
“Inquiries continue into the circumstances of the death,” said police superintendent Raj Kohli. “At this early stage it is being treated as unexplained and there have been no arrests in connection with the incident.”
The Recording Academy in the United States praised the singer, who brought elements of jazz and Motown back into the musical mainstream.
“Her rich, soulful and unique voice reflected her honest songwriting and earned her a devoted fan following, critical acclaim, and the genuine respect and admiration of her musical peers,” said its president Neil Portnow.
Broadcaster and radio DJ Paul Gambaccini said Winehouse’s early death was sadly no surprise.
“We have been dreading this news for some time, hoping against hope that she would turn herself around, but she showed no evidence of being able to do so,” he told BBC TV.
“She just could not control herself. It’s tragic because both (her) albums were superb. We have 40 years of Frank Sinatra records, it turns out we only have two Amy Winehouse records.”
Daniel Rossellat, founder of the Paleo Festival in Nyon, Switzerland, where Winehouse had been due to perform before withdrawing from the tour, likened her to Janis Joplin, another gifted singer who died at the age of 27.
“It is the tragic end to a wonderful voice, similar to Janis Joplin both in destiny and in voice,” he told Swiss television.
Singer Billy Bragg wrote on his Twitter page that Winehouse joined not only Joplin but also Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain — who all died at the same age.
(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, editing by Peter Millership)