Amy Winehouse, to me, is a name for obsession with heartaches! Her music, her tattoos, her personality, everything about her screams aloud the pain and anguish she was dealing with. With the dark beehive of a hairdo, her heavy feline eye make-up and her love for traditional vintage tattoos, she made heads turn everywhere she stepped foot. Her style was quite unique, just like her voice. Her tattoos show that she was vintage at heart, which is also very prominent in her style of music and her music videos. Fusing modern and retro RnB, the grey area expert made it to being the first British woman to have won six Grammy awards!
I have personally been an Amy Winehouse fan since I first heard ‘Stronger Than Me’ when I was 20 years old, and was in a strange relationship with someone who was 7 years older to me. Imagine what that song did to me then! That’s the beautiful pain of her music; she wrote music that helped so many people around the world feel like they were not the only ones who were so fucked up.
Amy was amongst the first few inked celebrities I started following seriously and her tattoos were my inspiration for a very long time. Now when I look back at that time, I realize that had it not been for her and her zero Fs given attitude, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. She paved the path for women like her and me to un-apologetically do what we want!
Amy had 14 known tattoos, all of them being old school in color and style. She just got what she wanted without caring much about what the trends or hot styles were at that time. Her tattoos were traditional in nature and tied down to her personal life in more ways than one. A naïve 20 year old me tried drawing her left arm tattoos on myself by looking in the mirror and it made for a funny story since what I thought was a sketch pen turned out to be a marker and fetched me a tight slap from my mother for wanting tattoos like Amy. Hahaha! Little did she know then that a grown up me was aiming at getting covered in various styles of ink.
Amy was a huge influence on me during my early years in tattoos and music. There was a time when I was imitating her look, trying to do my hair like her and wouldn’t leave the house without putting on that winged eye liner that I proudly called ‘The Winehouse Batwings’. That was great news for my family since up until then, I wouldn’t spend more than 15 mins in front of the mirror (15 mins collectively in the whole day I mean). I was spending more time watching WWF than I should’ve been as a teenage girl and that obviously worried my family.
Thanks to Amy, some enlightenment on makeup and cosmetics happened and people finally saw that I am not as weird as they thought I was. I also learnt to walk in stilettos which seemed like I had unlocked new levels of achievement! With time a complete makeover happened and the next thing I knew, I was getting calls for photo shoots and modeling assignments! I didn’t imagine a singer so many miles away from where I was could’ve had transformed my life and have had such a heavy impact on shaping me as a person!
Coming back to Amy’s tattoos, her most famous ‘Cynthia’ tattoo with 2 hearts on her right upper arm was in memory of her grandmother named ‘Cynthia’. She was a real head turner in her times and was where Amy got her raw, earthy vibe from. She also had 2 pin-up girl tattoos on either arms. One of these tattoos sat right next to her Cynthia tattoo and the other one on her left arm was of a topless woman with her hands on her head that in my opinion exemplifies her own carefree nature. Fun fact about this tattoo, when Amy was asked to perform at the Grammy Awards in 2008, producers asked her to cover up her revealing tattoos. You won’t believe what she did next. Instead of overdressing for the show, she drew a bra on her topless woman tattoo. Yep, that’s the spirit that made her a winner in my eyes. That is totally something I would’ve done if I were her! Haha!
Above the topless pin-up girl tattoo was a horseshoe tattoo with the words ‘Daddy’s Girl’. She made the ‘Daddy’s Girl’ tattoo cool before it became a mindless movement. Maybe Piggy Chops should’ve taken notes from Amy (and I don’t mean just for her tattoo!). On her left inner forearm she had a native American feather that symbolized courage and bravery. It was one of her first tattoos. She also had a lightning bolt tattoo on her right wrist. The lightning bolt symbolized her obsession with natural disaster, she was quite disaster-friendly as is and this tattoo seemed apt. A lot of her most commercially successful music was written after disastrous heartaches she had to deal with while she was married to a Mr. Blake Fielder-Civil. Her most moving love songs like ‘Back To Black’ were inspired by the pain Blake caused her. They say pain is necessary for art to thrive, I’m not sure I completely agree with this saying however in Amy’s case, she did make brilliant music that took her to the Grammys.
Talking about obsession with heartaches, Blake also managed to earn his own tattoo. She had a little pocket with his name written on the left side of her chest which presumably confers that her heart belonged to him. After her tragic divorce in 2009, she was apparently on the lookout for tattoo removal services to get Blake off her chest, literally! She even spoke to Henry about doing a cover up tattoo over it but sadly he didn’t get the opportunity to carry out this wish.
Amy was gorgeous, intelligent and an extremely talented artist with an attitude that made a striking impression. She died on 23rd July 2011, aged 27. Another jewel in heaven’s crown, another brilliant artist lost to club 27. I remember going to a movie hall all by myself at some point in 2015 to watch the documentary they made on her life. I owe her so much of what I have become, it seemed like the right thing to do. I walked out with a heavy heart, not understanding why the good ones are always taken away so soon. The one thing I realized after I watched the movie is that the opposite of ‘addiction’ is ‘connection’. The only way to truly help an addict is to genuinely connect with them so they feel cared for and are motivated to live a healthy life. 14th September 2017 is what would’ve been her 34th birthday. What better way to remember her than to listen to some of that soul stirring music she wrote to offer solace to the troubled mind? Here’s a curated playlist of some of her best work…