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Amy Winehouse: Singer, Guitarist and Lost Soul

With the death of Amy Winehouse on July 23, 2011, we lose not only a talented singer and songwriter, but an accomplished guitarist as well.

While she is best known for her standout vocal performance, Winehouse could hold her own on guitar, preferring a Fender Strat.

"It's my favorite guitar,” she stated in 2004. “It's classic, it looks good and it sounds beautiful. It really lends itself to anything. It's such a warm sound, something you don't get with a cold instrument like the piano or keyboards."

After toying with her brother's guitar, Winehouse received her first guitar when she was 13 and began writing music a year later. As she shared in an interview with MusicOhm several years ago, “My brother taught himself, so I took inspiration for teaching myself from him and he showed me a couple of things."

Winehouse’s groundbreaking style, which included elements of jazz, R&B and hip-hop, was founded in her exposure to a variety of artists in her early years. Her family shared their love of folk artists like Carole King and James Taylor, jazz artists like Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington, and ol' blue eyes himself – Frank Sinatra.

Winehouse’s look was instantly recognizable and led to fashion industry attention. Her self-destructive behavior and drug abuse was well documented by the media, as Winehouse was haunted by failed relationships and run-ins with the law.

A five-time Grammy winner, Winehouse kicked off the British trend of retro soul and R&B that continues today. Her song “Rehab” seemed to be particularly autobiographical.

Her website now holds only a single image. A sad ending for a tormented but talented artist.

Here’s a video of Winehouse from 2003 on guitar as she performs “Stronger Than Me”:

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Laura B. Whitmore is a music industry marketing veteran, music journalist and editor, writing for Parade.com, Guitar World, and others. She has interviewed hundreds of musicians and hosts the She Rocks Podcast. As the founder of the Women’s International Music Network, she advocates for women in the music industry and produces the annual She Rocks Awards. She is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Positive Grid, making the world safe for guitar exploration everywhere! A guitarist and singer/songwriter, Laura is currently co-writing an album of pop songs that empower and energize girls.