Amy Winehouse was looking forward to the future before her death at age 27.
The British soul singer/songwriter, whose struggles with fame, drugs and alcohol played out on the world’s stage, died in 2011. The songstress with the towering beehive and brow-reaching cat-eye flick would have turned 40 on Sept. 14.
Today, the late star’s family wants to share another side of the Grammy winner. A new book, “Amy Winehouse: In Her Words,” is being published on Aug. 29. It’s a collection of never-before-seen photos, journal entries, doodles, poems and lyrics that the family curated over the last 12 years. Winehouse’s estate will donate 100% of the advance and royalties it receives to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
“It’s all the things that she would write to [her mother] Janis and me,” Winehouse’s father, Mitch Winehouse, told Fox News Digital. “We thought it would be a fitting tribute to her for the public to see her not as a superstar but as the normal, loving family girl that she truly was.”
In one of the handwritten entries shared in the book, Winehouse revealed how excited she was to have “years to do music.” The patriarch said his famous daughter wasn’t thinking about taking her life in the months leading up to her death.
“After she passed away, there was speculation that she committed suicide, which was nonsensical then,” the 72-year-old said. “We know what happened. What happened was a terrible accident. After five and a half weeks of total sobriety, she then went on a bender and [had] alcohol poisoning. That’s what happened.”
“We spoke [about her future],” Mitch continued. “She was hopeful. I don’t think she was right at the point where she was going to be writing another album, but she was always working on new material. And there are several unreleased songs that we have that she would’ve written during that period.”
In 2011, Winehouse’s physician of four years, Dr. Christina Romete, said the songstress was optimistic about her future and had refused psychological therapy for alcohol issues on numerous occasions, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
According to the outlet, the physician told the inquest that she saw Winehouse on the night before she died and that Winehouse had already been drinking. The women spoke about Winehouse’s plans for her upcoming birthday party and other “future things.”
“We want people to understand that there was so much more to Amy,” Mitch said. “She was clear of drugs for three years at the time of her passing. Very little mention is made of that. She was a wonderful human being. And I’m not just saying that because I’m her dad. We were so proud of her. … The reality of it all is that she was a normal Jewish kid from North London who loved being with her friends, loved being with her family. And every now and again, a light bulb would come on in her head and she’d go, ‘I’ve got to write this song.’ And she would write that song in 10 minutes.”
“People like to describe the music industry as coercive and manipulative,” he said. “Well, they weren’t with Amy. I don’t know how they are with other people, but they were fantastic to her. We were a family. At no point did they say, ‘Come on, we really need you to write this new album.’… That wouldn’t work with Amy anyway. There was no pressure from anybody for her to write another album. But she was working on another album. She was working on designing dresses. She was always working on very productive projects. Music would have been one of them.”
Mitch described his daughter as a prankster, one who was “a master of accents.” And whenever Winehouse quarreled with her father, she would take notes. Fragments of their conversations would appear in tracks.
That’s how “Rehab,” one of her many hits, was born.
“This was in the early days, around 2004 or 2005,” Mitch said. “She just split up with her boyfriend, a guy called Chris. She went out on a bender and she fell and banged her head. She wasn’t getting drunk all the time. She wasn’t drinking all the time. … She came to stay with me at my house where we were living at the time. Her two managers came to me and said, ‘She needs to go to rehab.’ Amy was sitting here, and I said, ‘She’s fine. She just went out and had a drink. You don’t need to go to rehab for 12 weeks.’”
“She didn’t need to go to rehab at that time,” he said. “Later on was a different story. … But she was always writing. We would be having a discussion or an argument, and she’d go, ‘Hang on a minute, Dad.’ And she’d go write something in her book. Then we’d pick up on the argument from where we were. And then a year later, I would see the argument or discussion we had in one of her songs.”
As a child, Winehouse would listen to her father’s Sinatra albums. Tony Bennett became one of her idols.
Bennett’s rapport with Winehouse was captured in the Oscar-nominated documentary “Amy,” which showed the crooner patiently encouraging the singer through a performance of “Body and Soul.” Mitch said the families have stayed in touch. Bennett died in July at age 96.
“He gave her a slip of paper and said, ‘There are six songs here. I want you to choose one, and we’re going to do the duet,’” Mitch recalled. “She looked at it and said, ‘”Body and Soul.”‘ He said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Because it’s my dad’s favorite … my dad’s been singing that song to me for 25 years.’… When Amy passed away, Tony called me and spoke to me for an hour.”
“The impact that Tony had on Amy was incredible,” said Mitch. “He was just a wonderful man who sang with young people seamlessly and encouraged them. He loved Amy. And it was Amy’s dream come true to sing with him. She said to me, ‘Dad, pinch me. I must be dreaming.’ Tony remained a friend of the family.”
Mitch said that as Winehouse faced her battles, she thought of others. Her compassion helped inspire the foundation, which aims to educate young people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. One of the charity’s initiatives, Amy’s Place, provides addiction recovery housing for women.
The last several pages of the book are stories of people who turned their lives around with the help of the foundation.
“Amy took a homeless person off the street,” said Mitch. “I said, ‘What are you doing?’ She said, ‘Listen, Dad, I’m looking after this girl who needs my help.’… She’d sell some of her clothes and give the money away to people. She would even feed the paparazzi. They’d chase us into the house, and then five minutes later she’d say, ‘Oh, Dad, I feel sorry for them.’ And she would bring them biscuits and sandwiches. She loved animals, loved children. So, when she passed away, it wasn’t an enormous leap for us to … help young people come to terms with what they’re struggling with.”
“If we could help one family not go through what we’ve been through, that would be a good thing,” he added.
Mitch said that putting the book together has been therapeutic for the family. Many moments have been filled with either laughter or tears. He said many of Winehouse’s notepads have gone missing over the years but what remains is a wonderful portrait of the daughter they miss.
“She was quite casual about her fame, which some people may find disappointing, but that’s the truth,” said Mitch. “She didn’t have any real idea of how good she was. I remember a year before she passed away, we were looking at one of her early shows together. She said to me, ‘I was good, wasn’t I, Dad?’ I said, ‘You’re still good.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News and is published from a syndicated feed.)