Authors: Mitch Winehouse
Tags: #Biography & Autobiography, #music, #Personal Memoirs, #Composers & Musicians, #Individual Composer & Musician
Nonetheless, that day I wrote out Â£81,000-worth of cheques. Despite the incredible success of
Back to Black
, that left only Â£175,000 in the bank until the royalties came in; hardly the millions that the newspapers reported Amy had, but I was told that the next cheque would be a good one.
On Saturday, 8 September, there was nothing about Amy in the newspapers. There hadn't been a day for weeks when there wasn't at least one story about her in the press. It was so unusual I noted it in my diary â I'd even smiled when leaving the newsagent's.
A couple of days later the
News of the World
declared that Amy was pregnant. I only told Amy about the more ridiculous stories and she hardly ever read anything about herself. I spoke to her on the phone that night and we had a good laugh about the
News of the World
's piece. Then we talked about Alex, who was thinking of doing the Knowledge to become a taxi driver â it had been Amy's idea and she had offered to lend him some money while he did it. She hardly ever talked about money â but then I heard Blake in the background, prompting her with questions.
For the first time ever, she asked me when the next record and publishing royalties were due to be paid. I told her we were expecting Â£750,000 from Universal. She put her hand over the phone and told Blake what I'd said.
âDad, I want to go into partnership with Georgette,' she said next. âI want to open a hairdressing salon for her.'
âYou must be joking,' I said. âAfter everything that woman's done?'
I could still hear Blake in the background telling her what to say, and she was relaying his words to me.
âHang on,' I said, âwho's earned this money? You or him? You're out there grafting while he's making plans to spend your money.' We didn't talk for long after that. The last thing I would do was help Blake spend Amy's money, especially if it was to fund a hairdressing salon for Georgette.
âAmy is getting on my nerves,' I wrote in my diary that night. âI'm fed up with her!'
A couple of days later Amy phoned to ask me if there was any truth in the story that I was trying to take control of her money and keep Blake away from it. I was gobsmacked. âNo,' I told her, and reminded her that she owned her company 100 per cent and my job was to keep an eye on things, sign the cheques and protect her interests. But one thing was for sure: if anything happened to Amy, I didn't want Blake or Georgette to get their hands on any of her money.
âAmy asked me if I love Blake,' I wrote in my diary that night. âIs she out of her mind? I lied and told her I was fond of him but that there was too much shit with his family.' The old saying came to mind: âKeep your friends close, and your enemies closer.'
It seemed to me that Blake felt threatened by Amy's close relationship with her family. He resented the time she spent with us and was trying to distance her from us. I knew what he was doing, but if you'd asked me to point out the where and when I couldn't have put my finger on it. He was too slippery for that.
On 14 September 2007, it was Amy's twenty-fourth birthday. Birthdays have always been a big deal in our family, so at about five o'clock I went to see her at Blakes Hotel to give her my presents. Blake was still in bed â always a bad sign â but with him in the other room, Amy and I had a lovely time together and toasted her birthday with tea and biscuits. While I was there, Raye called and said he'd arranged for Amy to go to America again at the end of the month to work with Salaam Remi.
âThat's great news, Amy,' I said. âHow many new songs have you got to work with?'
Given what'd been going on, it didn't surprise me when she said she hadn't got anything finished, just a few ideas. I knew, though, that she would be inspired when working with Salaam.
âWhy don't you come with us, Dad?' she asked.
âWhat? You, me and Blake? I'll think about it.' I had already made up my mind not to go.
Amy was in a great mood and wanted to go shopping, just the two of us, at Harrods, in Knightsbridge. I bought her a couple more presents â two sweaters that cost Â£140 each, a big chunk of the money I'd earned that week in the cab â and we had a really lovely time. But somehow I got separated from her. I was searching all over the store, but I couldn't find her. It felt like history repeating itself. Was she playing the old hiding joke on me again? I found out later that she had jumped into a cab and gone back to the hotel. When I arrived there, I found a drug-dealer in Blake and Amy's room. I kicked him out straight away, but one of the hotel's security guards told me he'd been there nearly every other day.
That evening Raye and I had arranged a birthday party for Amy at the Century Club in London's Soho. All of her pals were there, with Alex, Jane, Janis and me. Tyler was meant to be bringing Amy to the party as Blake had decided not to come, which I was very pleased about. And we were enjoying ourselves, although Amy and Tyler were missing. I called her a couple of times, but couldn't get through. I only recently found out why.
Tyler was always with Amy on her birthday, and on this occasion he particularly wanted to be with her because he was concerned otherwise that she would spend it trapped in the hotel room with Blake. She hardly ever went out now â she was constantly worried about the paps outside. It was Tyler's mission on her twenty-fourth birthday to be with her and encourage her to go out. He found her in a great mood, perhaps brought on by the news that she'd be going to the US to record with Salaam, and she was looking forward to going out that night.
It was obvious that Blake did not want her to go out â he wanted to keep her all to himself. Given everything that had been going on, Tyler was keen to get her away from Blake for a night and find out from her exactly what had been going on in their room. He'd been worrying ever since Amy first moved into the hotel with Blake because it was then that she'd admitted to him she was smoking crack cocaine and heroin. She had promised Tyler that she would stop but, considering she spent nearly every waking moment with Blake, it was hard to imagine how that would happen.
More than the fact of her being cooped up in the hotel, it was the phone calls he took from Amy that really worried Tyler. Amy and Tyler always spoke regularly, but since she'd been staying at the hotel she was ringing him two, three or four times a day. They would be in the middle of a deep conversation and she would suddenly put the phone down. He thought she was calling him whenever Blake went out â it sounded almost as though she was trapped. That was when Tyler had become concerned about what Blake was doing.
The cab arrived and Tyler went downstairs to wait for Amy in Reception. When she didn't show he went back up to her room. This time, when she opened the door, she was crying. She had a busted lip and makeup all down her face. She told Tyler she was really sorry but she wasn't going out. Tyler asked her what was wrong with her face but she told him not to worry about it. He tried to force his way into the room, but Amy begged him not to and persuaded him to go.
Had I known what had happened that evening, I would have gone straight over to rescue Amy, but Tyler obviously felt it wasn't his place to call me since that would have been disloyal to Amy.
The next day, Amy and Blake moved back into her flat at Jeffrey's Place. It was a relief to us all.
*Â Â Â *Â Â Â *
On Wednesday, 19 September, it was the 2007 MOBO Awards. Amy and I were due to attend together, but that afternoon Tyler called me to say there had been some problems with Blake â Amy was upset and Blake didn't want her to go to the MOBOs. As Tyler was telling me this, my other phone rang. It was Raye: he was with Amy and on the way to the O2 in Greenwich for the MOBOs. He told me Blake had stayed at the flat and surprisingly, instead of staying with him, Amy had agreed to go to the MOBOs. I could only hope this was a good sign.
Amy was nominated in four categories that night: Best UK Female, Best R&B Act, Best Song, for âRehab', and Best Video, for âBack to Black', and performed two songs. Raye was confident that she would win all four, but in the end she won Best UK Female. Amy was thrilled all the same, and so were Raye and I. It was fantastic to see her back onstage enjoying herself, but more than anything I was happy we'd had a great night without Blake. I wrote in my diary: âAmy's not swallowing Blake's crap as much as she used to. Could this be the beginning of the end? I hope so.'
At the end of that week, Amy, Raye and I met with Lucian Grainge, head of Universal in the UK at the time, to discuss future plans for Amy's career, including her imminent trip to the US to work with Salaam Remi. Blake had wanted to join us at the Universal meeting, but I'd managed to persuade Amy that it wasn't a good idea. It was a positive meeting and it was good to hear about the big plans Universal had to remarket
internationally on the back of the global success of
Back to Black
. Positive though it was, throughout the meeting Amy's mind was somewhere else.
The following Monday Raye called: Amy was out of it and she was saying she would not go to the US. When I spoke to Amy later she sounded okay, but she was still saying she didn't want to go to America: âWorking with Salaam will be boring, Dad.' I called Raye back and we agreed not to push it and see how she felt in a few days' time.
That night, I wrote in my diary, âAmy says working with Salaam will be boring â yes, probably for him! She's really losing it, thanks to that idiot she's married to.' I was so disappointed it had come to this. I couldn't believe Amy was throwing away the chance to work with someone she admired so much but, clearly, if I wanted to understand the person my daughter was becoming I had to stop thinking about these things rationally and try to get inside her head.
*Â Â Â *Â Â Â *
A few weeks later Amy and Blake moved into a modern apartment up a flight of stairs in a block where her friend and hairdresser Alex Foden lived in Fish Island, Bow, in east London. I popped in to see Amy a couple of days after she'd moved in and had a nose about. The rooms were nice-sized, and one wall of the main room was all glass. Amy seemed a bit woozy. I asked if Geoff had been to see her and she said yes. It was no good talking to her when she was in that state, so after twenty minutes I left. I sat in my cab, put my head in my hands and wept like a baby. No matter what plans I or anyone else â Raye, her doctors and her clean friends â had for Amy, they disappeared like smoke, thanks to her erratic behaviour.
On 10 October Amy went to a party at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge for the launch of the Olsen twins' fashion range. As usual, she was late, and by the time she arrived Blake was ensconced with the supermodel Lily Cole. Amy went mad, screaming at Blake, and they had a big row in public. Blake left the party with Lily Cole, leaving Amy to put on a brave face. Sadly, when Blake returned to the party some three hours later, Amy forgave him. When I spoke to her about it, she tried to play it down, but a friend of mine was at the party, so I knew exactly what had gone on. âWhat will it take before Amy sees Blake for what he is? ' I wrote in my diary that night. âI know if she gets away from him we can start to solve the drug problem. I am at my wit's end.' It seemed to me, as far as Amy was concerned, that Blake could get away with anything.
The next day Raye called and asked if I would go with Amy on her European tour, which was due to start the following week. I was pleased Amy was getting back on the road: at the last group meeting we'd had about her, we'd agreed it would be good for her to focus on music again. When she was on stage Amy always got a lift from her rapport with the fans â if she wasn't high. I told Raye I'd go, but only if Blake didn't. It was obvious to me that Blake was Amy's biggest problem, but I couldn't see a way of stopping him going on the tour. To make matters worse, Raye told me that Blake wanted to take one of his mates as well and put him on wages. We agreed that Blake shouldn't go and we tried to encourage Amy to take Naomi Parry instead â Naomi was Amy's stylist, and one of her sensible friends, and we thought she'd be a good influence. But it was useless. We couldn't persuade Blake to stay at home, so in the end he went, along with Naomi and Alex Foden.
The tour got off to a bad start before Amy and Blake had even left London. On the morning of Sunday, 14 October, Raye arrived at Amy's Bow flat to take her and Blake to the airport, but when he got there they were both high and looked terrible. He couldn't get them out of the flat, so they missed the flight and the band travelled without them. Luckily they caught a later flight to Berlin, and the first gig, the following evening, went well by all accounts.
The second show, in Hamburg, went as well as the first, but I should have known that it was too good to last. The next evening I had a very different call from Raye. Amy and Blake had been arrested in Bergen, Norway. They had been smoking weed in Amy's hotel suite, a security guard had smelt it and the police had been called.
I packed my bag straight away and caught a flight to Norway. When I arrived, the first thing I saw was Amy on the front page of nearly all of the Norwegian newspapers. She and Blake had been held in jail overnight and, after pleading guilty to possessing marijuana and paying fines of approximately Â£350, they had been released. When I arrived at the hotel, Amy was very pleased to see me but Blake looked worried. He kept going on about how unfair it was â it had been only a tiny bit of weed. âYou've broken the law,' I pointed out to him. âTherefore you have to be prepared to suffer the consequences.'
I was livid with Amy and made it clear to her how I felt. I was also worried about how this might affect her visa application: she was due to go to America the following February, but that would be difficult with a drug conviction. Now wasn't the time to raise it: I'd discuss it with our lawyers first. For now it was best to get her focus back on the tour.
In spite of everything, the show that night was fantastic and Amy was in her element. I was standing near the mixing desk so I could see everyone on stage at the same time. I watched Dale, Amy's bassist and musical director, doing his normal great job with the band and nodding happily to Amy when she turned to him. I thought his influence on her, on and off stage, was great. He encouraged her performance by anticipating brilliantly her every move. She responded by reacting to the audience's whistles and cheers. I'm sure she didn't do it to please me but they played loads of
songs. Near the end of the set, Amy put her hand to her forehead and peered out over everyone's heads. âWhere's my dad? Where are you, Dad?'
People turned to look as I waved to her. âI'm here, Amy,' I shouted.
âThat's my dad, everybody!' she cried, and I was applauded by a crowd of bemused Norwegians.
After that morning's events, though, I was stressed out and, for one of the few times in my life, drank too much beer. Well, when I say too much, I don't think it was the volume but the strength. We were travelling overnight on the tour bus to Oslo and, believe me, I had a rough time. I had a terrible cold and by the time we got to Oslo, at about nine thirty a.m., I must still have had alcohol in my system because I slipped and fell down the stairs of the tour bus, hurting my back.
Amy was very concerned about me. She made sure I had plenty to eat and ordered hot water with lemon for me â she'd always hated it when I was ill, and could be very maternal at times. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, Amy announced that
didn't feel well and wasn't going to do the show that night. Ten minutes later Blake went for a walk, came back with who-knew-what, and, hey presto, Amy felt better and the show was back on. In those days I was so naÃ¯ve about drugs.
The show that night wasn't great. Amy sounded okay, but she kept walking to the back of the stage to give Blake a kiss. He was standing behind the brass section of Amy's band, so anyone who didn't know better probably thought he was part of the show. But it was very unprofessional and I hated seeing Amy behave like that on stage. My back was really hurting, so I decided to fly home the next day, but I had a word with Raye about the kissing, and he said he'd deal with it. I flew home and Amy continued the tour; her next stop was Holland.