July 25, 2011 (AFP) – The family of troubled British singer Amy Winehouse said Sunday they have been left “bereft” by her loss at the age of 27 as grieving fans left tributes outside the London home where she was found dead.
Police said the death of the Grammy award-winning soul diva — who immortalised her struggles with drink and drugs in the hit “Rehab” — was still unexplained and that an autopsy would not be scheduled until Monday.
Fans laid flowers, candles and more unorthodox tributes including cigarettes and beer cans outside Winehouse’s flat in trendy Camden, north London. Several kept an overnight vigil.
In their first statement since one of Winehouse’s bodyguards discovered the singer’s body on Saturday, her family paid tribute to her and asked for privacy.
“Our family has been left bereft by the loss of Amy, a wonderful daughter, sister, niece,” the statement said.
“She leaves a gaping hole in our lives. We are coming together to remember her and we would appreciate some privacy and space at this terrible time.”
Winehouse was particularly close to her father Mitch, a London taxi driver and music aficionado, who inspired her love of music by singing to her when she was a child.
He flew back to London from New York on Saturday night after her death.
A spokesman for the family said the funeral would not be arranged until a post-mortem examination had been carried out.
Her death makes her the latest tragic member of a “club” of rock stars who have died at the age of 27, including Rolling Stone Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Doors singer Jim Morrison and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
Producer Mark Ronson, who worked closely with Winehouse, said: “She was my musical soulmate and like a sister to me. This is one of the saddest days of my life.”
Police refused to confirm reports in British tabloids that Winehouse had taken a cocktail of illegal drugs on the night before she was found dead.
“A date and time for the post-mortem will not be scheduled before Monday morning,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Sunday. It said enquiries were still continuing and no arrests had been made.
With her distinctive beehive hairdo, lashings of eye make-up and garish tattoos, Winehouse rocketed to fame with her 2003 debut album “Frank”.
The 2006 follow-up, “Back to Black”, was a worldwide smash hit, reaching number one in Britain and number two in the US charts and winning five Grammy awards.
But her battle with drink and drugs increasingly overshadowed her talent.
The album spawned the hit “Rehab”, which contains the lines: “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no…. Just try and make me go to rehab, I won’t go, go go.”
Adding to her troubles was her turbulent relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil. The couple married in Miami in May 2007 he spent part of their marriage behind bars for an attack on a pub landlord. They divorced in July 2009.
In the end Winehouse did go to rehab, several times.
The most recent was this year when she attended an addiction clinic, at her father’s suggestion, just weeks before she embarked on what was meant to be a 12-day European comeback tour.
But she pulled out following a disastrous opening performance in Serbia on June 18 when she was booed while on stage, apparently too drunk to sing. She stumbled her way through the 90-minute gig, mumbling and failing to follow her band.
Winehouse made her final public appearance at The Roundhouse venue in Camden on Wednesday, joining her goddaughter Dionne Bromfield on stage. She briefly danced and encouraged the audience to buy the 15-year-old’s album.
Outside her flat in Camden Square fans left flowers, notes, guitars, teddy bears and photographs, as well as cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. “Amy, we will miss your great talent. RIP,” read one note left in a bunch of flowers.
Shamini, a 25-year-old accountant and a Winehouse fan, told AFP: “It’s such a young age, and, it’s unbelievable, it’s unbelievable. It’s almost like when Michael Jackson died.”
Her record label Universal said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened at the sudden loss of such a gifted musician, artist and performer. Our prayers go out to Amy’s family, friends and fans at this difficult time.”
US singer Carole King said she hoped Winehouse had “found peace now wherever she is.”
Pop star Rihanna wrote on Twitter: “Dear God have mercy!!! I am SICK about this right now!”