I was just 16 years old when I first heard Amy Winehouse.
I was a massive R ‘n’ B fan and listened to people like Jennifer Lopez and Alicia Keys, and Amy was a real breath of fresh air.
First of all, she was British. She was signing about things I recognised, and things I was about to encounter.
Secondly, I loved that she was so strong, so forthright and outspoken. American singers were all media trained and bland, but Amy just came out and said what she thought.
And because she was so honest and wore her heart on her sleeve this really fed into her music, and this made people really connect to her.
I didn’t realise it at the time but for me Amy bridged the gap between the saccharine pop songs I listened to as a teenager and the alternative music I’ve listened to ever since.
I bought her first album, Frank, the very week it was released in 2003 and absolutely fell in love with it. Last night I took the album out of my CD case and saw on the back, though it was very worn, it still had the price sticker on- it cost me £12.99 from HMV.
Another thing I didn’t realise at the time was that the older I got the more I would connect with her music, she had written about all the things I was going to go through growing up- first love, heartbreak, unrequited affection and all that you try and learn from it.
I’m not sure Amy did ever learn from her experiences, which is more what 2006’s Back to Black was about.
Amy was back- and skinny- and had a cute 60s look which dictated fashion for a season or two.
But she was papped constantly- drunk- drugged- on the floor, lashing out, acting eccentrically and getting in trouble.
Despite the tremendous fame and acclaim she received for her music she became hounded for her personal life- first she received surprise for her behaviour, then tonnes of attention, she became a laughing stock- and she became a kind of caricature rather than a person, people greeted her with a mixture of pity and patronising piss taking.
And she needed help- but nothing would help.
I do wonder if the tabloid journalists and paparazzi who made her life hell have any guilt now that she will never have the chance to clean herself up, get back on her feet and back to doing what she did best- her music.
A troubled soul, plagued with addictions and problems so many people tried to help her with, she died far too young and with far too much she will never achieve.
This is why her death is so heart breaking for me.
I want to remember Amy like she was in 2003- bold and brash and one of a kind.
Rest in peace Amy.