At one point, her premature death looked worryingly likely, with the Camden-based soul singer lurching from one crisis to another, and yet when it came it was a shock - Amy Winehouse had been cleaning up, getting her act together and working on a new album that would follow up 2006's much-acclaimed 'Back To Black'. Her death one year ago today (July 23, 2012) caused an outpouring of grief that matched that given to stars like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, artists whose careers had far outstripped her own in terms of longevity and records sold. Why was this? And, a year on has the death of someone considered by many to be an icon in 21st century music actually left a lasting legacy?
You sense that maybe Winehouse had such an impact on the public because, ultimately, she was the quintessential relatable star in the public limelight, one of the most successful results in the media trying to turn the rich and famous into everyday Joes. Winehouse didn't need any sculpting though, the singer rarely changed throughout her career ascension, she enjoyed going to the pub and smoking, everyone enjoys that. What everyone can't enjoy is having a glorious voice and a devastatingly striking appearance, but whilst it was those two assets that propelled her to stardom, it was her down to earth nature - or the caricature of which was portrayed - that kept her there. Her strife, ups and downs ultimately were no different from those many were suffering from, which from a press perspective is the ultimate in how they want to show a star, and from the public's perspective something they could really empathise with. The sad passing of Winehouse was almost a defeat in the battle against daily life.
As for her legacy? It still remains hard to say, although you can't help find a touch of influence in Adele's music, the 23 year-old taking on a hint of 50s-influenced croon in her voice that Winehouse possessed in abundance, others like Duffy have faded away. Commercially the star's back catalogue is enjoying the sort of fillip that is often the dark spin-off from such an event - she has sold 1.7 million records since her passing. Her father Mitch Winehouse, meanwhile, set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation to help young people going through similar issues as his daughter, and seems desperate to preserve his daughter's memory, having released a book recently whilst also admitting he'd consider bringing her back in holographic form. It's unlikely that Winehouse will be forgotten any time soon, though at the moment it seems her influence so far has imbued itself far more in the general public and their perception of what it is to be celebrity, rather than the music world. That, of course, may yet change.