Singer Amy Winehouse found dead at 27

In this file photo, British singer Amy Winehouse

In this file photo, British singer Amy Winehouse poses for photographs after being interviewed by The Associated Press at a studio in north London. (Feb. 16, 2007) (Credit: AP)

Amy Winehouse, the Grammy-winning British singer who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction throughout her career, died yesterday in her London home. She was 27.

A powerful singer who updated old-school soul, jazz and reggae with modern slang and phrasing, Winehouse was best known for her Top 10 hit "Rehab" and her numerous stints in various treatment clinics.

Police told The Associated Press that a 27-year-old female was pronounced dead at the home in northern London, and London Ambulance Services said Winehouse had died before the two ambulance crews it sent arrived at the scene. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Winehouse formed her own rap group, Sweet 'n' Sour, at the age of 10 and by 14 was writing her own songs. She was still a teenager when she made her debut with "Frank" in 2003, cowriting the bulk of the album and making her mark with her distinctive vocal style.

But it was her second album "Back to Black" in 2006 that launched her to superstardom. She charmed America and Grammy voters with the album's soulful tales of love gone wrong, including "You Know I'm No Good" and "Tears Dry on Their Own," as well as "Rehab," which included the too-true-to-life lyrics, "They tried to make me go to rehab and I said, 'No, no, no.' "

"Amy Winehouse was a dynamic performer and musician who seamlessly blended rock, jazz, pop, and soul and created a sound all her own," Neil Portnow, chief executive of The Recording Academy, said in a statement. "Her rich, soulful and unique voice reflected her honest songwriting and earned her a devoted fan following, critical acclaim and the genuine respect and admiration of her musical peers. She will forever be remembered for her immense talent and her music will live on for generations to come."

Despite her attention-getting beehive hairdo and dramatic eye makeup, Winehouse was never really comfortable in the spotlight. In concert, even at her best, she seemed intimidated by crowds, generally saying little to her fans and singing with her eyes closed, gripping the microphone stand.

Last month, after being booed onstage in Serbia as she appeared drunk and struggled to sing, her European tour, seen as the start of her comeback, was canceled because Winehouse "has agreed with management that she cannot perform to the best of her ability," her management said in a statement.

It was yet another sign that her tabloid-worthy exploits had overshadowed her musical talent again -- the latest in a long line of scrapes with the law that included slapping a man in 2008 and assaulting a theater manager last year.

Winehouse never truly worried about the reaction to her actions, though the world was watching, because becoming a star was never really in her plans.

"Music was always the thing I had to fall back on," Winehouse told Newsday in 2007. "Most people are like, 'I really want to be famous, but if not, I'll go and be a waitress.' I'm completely the other way around. I'm like: I want to be a roller-skating waitress! But if not, I'll always go sing for tips in a bar."

Nevertheless, Winehouse made a powerful impact on the music industry with "Back to Black." After her Grammy-winning success, the search went out for other big-voiced British women who had similar styles to Winehouse, but not her personal issues.

Adele, the reigning queen of the pop charts, and Duffy were among the singers discovered in that search.

Winehouse's final recording may have been with the legendary Tony Bennett, who invited her to sing the classic "Body and Soul" with him for his upcoming "Duets II" album in September.

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