My Amy - The Life We Shared - Tyler James
This month is the 10th anniversary of the death of Amy Winehouse. To mark the anniversary her best friend Tyler James has written My Amy - The life we shared, which leads the reader through her volatile marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil, her escalating addictions, self harm and eating disorders.
Whilst Winehouse had a natural talent she was not however natural on stage: the first time I saw her was supporting Jamie Cullum at the Leadmill in Sheffield.
The guitar strapped around her neck wasn’t there to play - it was a prop to put her hands on because she didn’t know what to do with them. Even then she stood out with her incredible voice and those soulful, jazzy songs.
Three years later on the eve of her Grammy Award winning album, Back To Black
being released I saw her again at The Warehouse in Leeds, the small but sold out audience were treated to what would become songs that defined her.
Within half an hour of being on stage she had drunk her first bottle of wine, her speeches in between the songs became more incomprehensible, but her singing voice still remained intact - her band did an excellent job of trying to keep up with her. Although it was a haphazard concert she held the audience in the palm of her hands.
Tyler James had a stint of chart success in 2004 and was later a joint runner up on The Voice UK in 2012. He knows how the music industry works, though his tone through this addictive read is how he saw Winehouse slowly being destroyed by the managers and people around her.
“The law don’t apply to me” is a saying that Winehouse used to say a lot. In a sense it was true - she could get away with anything. One good example: when entering Norway she was caught carrying drugs by customs officers. Instead of a jail sentence that might have been applied to anyone else the singer ended up paying €500.
When she won 5 Grammys instead of it being a celebration, Winehouse was lonely and depressed, whilst all those around her were having the night of their lives. She wasn’t comfortable with success.
After the alcoholism she became bulimic with boredom setting in. A shining moment comes when she records a covers album Duets 11
with jazz legend Tony Bennett. It seems the moments they recorded were natural and magical.
This to me sounds more like the Amy Winehouse I witnessed on stage; she was much happier singing jazz standards in a small club than being the singer who had won numerous Grammy Awards, going on Arena sized tours.
As James says in the closing lines of the book “No one knew her like I did - I am the luckiest boy in the world”. Unfortunately in the end the luck ran out for Amy Winehouse.
A gripping read for any fan of Any Winehouse and also a lesson on the effects of fame and success.