...Winehouse wasn’t always the bad girl we see warbling, drunk and off key, during live performances. She was once a freshly scrubbed Jewish teen from Northeast London. Back when she recorded her first album, Frank, at 19, she was curvier and wore her long dark hair in loose waves instead of a mammoth beehive. On that album’s cover she is smiling with a full set of teeth, wearing a pink shirt that could’ve easily been pulled from the racks of Topshop. There’s nary a tattoo in sight. True, she had been kicked out of a prestigious stage school for getting her nose pierced, but that’s hardly scaling the mountain of teenage rebellion.
Winehouse’s musical tastes were informed by her family. Her parents and her paternal grandmother, Cynthia, who once dated the legendary musician Ronnie Scott, raised her on a steady diet of jazz greats and soul singers from Billie Holiday to Ella Fitzgerald to Dinah Washington. She seems genuinely close with her father, Mitch Winehouse—the one man in Amy’s life who has lived up to the ideal man she sings about in “Stronger Than Me.” The elder Winehouse has stood by his daughter throughout ordeals with drugs and alcohol and ably manages her finances and career. He even tried to play the guilt card on her by faking a heart attack in order to force her to confront her drug-abuse problems. “I was at me wits end. I just didn’t know which way to turn. I’d tried everything,” he told the Daily Mirror. “Once I even started screaming said I was having a heart attack, but it didn’t work. Amy’s not stupid and she wanted to see my medical records proving I was actually ill.” Another Jewish father might boast about how his son got into Harvard; Mitch Winehouse talks about he couldn’t fool his addict daughter into believing he was having real chest pains. (Such nachas.)