Cab driver Mitch Winehouse and his pharmacist wife Janis welcome their second child Amy into their North London home. When the Winehouses split, a nine-year-old Amy and her older brother Alex live mostly with their mother in Southgate – a London suburb best known for housing the Priory, a celebrity-friendly rehab hospital. "She was always very self-willed," her father Mitch tells Rolling Stone in 2007. "Not badly behaved but...different."
At 12, Winehouse wins a space in the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School, but is expelled long before graduation. (The final straw? Getting her nose pierced). "She was very bright but she was always messing around," mom Janis tells London's Daily Mail in 2007. By 16, Winehouse – who later tells Interview, "I'm not very ambitious at all" – lands a deal with Simon Fuller's (the man behind American Idol) management company. She eventually signs with Island Records.
Winehouse meets Blake Fielder-Civil (left), a part-time gofer on music video sets, at a local bar. She promptly has his name tattooed above her heart, and the two begin a tempestuous, on-and-off romance. During one particularly prolonged hiatus, he reconciles with an old flame and a heart-broken Winehouse writes the bulk of her 2007 breakthrough album, Back to Black. It was a time of extreme creativity, but Winehouse admits she was also attempting to drown her sorrows in booze.
Frank, a jazz-inflected album that explores the pain of a previous breakup, goes platinum in the U.K. While the single, "Stronger Than Me," wins Winehouse the Ivor Novello songwriting award for Best Contemporary Song, she seems dissatisfied with the album's slick packaging and arrangements. "I can't even listen to Frank any more," she tells The Sun in 2006. "In fact, I've never been able to."
The British press buzzes about Winehouse's rapid weight loss – The Times, for example, claims the once-curvy chanteuse dropped three dress sizes. Winehouse attributes her shockingly slim new look to cutting back on her marijuana use. "I'm a musician; I'm not a model," she says on her 2007 concert DVD, I Told You I Was Trouble. "The more insecure I felt, the more I'd drink." And the more she'd tease that trademark beehive: "The more insecure I feel, the bigger my hair has to be."
Back to Black is released in the U.K. and is propelled by the catchy "Rehab." The song recounts the time Fuller's company tried to force her into a treatment facility. "I did [go to rehab], for just 15 minutes," she tells The Sun. "I went in and said, 'Hello' and explained that I drink because I'm in love and have f---ed up the relationship. Then I walked out."
Back to Black enters the Billboard charts at No. 7, the highest debut for a U.K. female at the time, and "Rehab" (Winehouse pictured in music video) peaks at No. 9 on the Hot 100. Entertainment Weekly declares: "It's a near-perfect [album] that declares not just the arrival of a fully formed talent, but possibly the first major salvo of a new British Invasion."
Winehouse breaks up with chef Alex Claire and reconciles with Fielder-Civil. "Blake and I are best friends," she tells EW. "It was a strain not to be able to see each other because we were both in other relationships." In May, they get hitched in Miami (left). "I know I'm talented, but I wasn't put here to sing," she tells Rolling Stone. "I was put here to be a wife and a mom and look after my family."
In a video on Spin.com, Winehouse is seen posing for photographer Terry Richardson while scratching on her exposed midriff with a shard of broken glass. "I wrote 'I love Blake' on my tummy," she says, "It's just chicken scratch." She also tells the German magazine Stern. "I believe that I live through pain. If you suffer for something it means to me that it is not unimportant." Another milestone that month: Winehouse lands on the cover of Rolling Stone.
A day after scoring three MTV Video Music Award nods, the singer is rushed to the University College London Hospital. Her rep says "exhaustion" is the cause, but Winehouse later admits it was a drug overdose. "I really thought I was on the way out," she tells Stern. "My husband Blake saved me." On Aug. 13, the newlyweds check into a "retreat" in Essex, England. However, they check out in a matter of days and go on a prolonged vacation in St. Lucia. Winehouse cancels the rest of her U.S. tour.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Splash News Online; Splash News Online; INF; amazon.com; Jon Furniss/WireImage, Kevin Mazur/WireImage; amazon.com; Splash News Online; Courtesy of Rolling Stone