Winehouse family, friends attend singer’s funeral
LONDON – Wearing dark suits, black dresses and the occasional beehive hairdo, friends and family said goodbye to Amy Winehouse Tuesday with prayers, tears, laughter and song at an emotional funeral ceremony.
“Amy was the greatest daughter, family member and friend you could ever have,” said her father, Mitch Winehouse, in a section of the eulogy released by a family spokesman.
The singer’s father, mother and brother were joined by Winehouse’s close friends, band members and celebrities including producer Mark Ronson for the service at Edgwarebury Cemetery in north London. Media personality Kelly Osbourne was one of several women to wear their hair piled beehive-high in an echo of the singer’s trademark style.
Fans and photographers thronged the lane outside, but the funeral was for several hundred friends and family only.
Mitch Winehouse told mourners that his late daughter had recently found love and had beaten her drug dependency three years before her death, but he admitted she was still struggling to control her drinking after several weeks of abstinence.
“She said, ‘Dad I’ve had enough of drinking, I can’t stand the look on your and the family’s faces anymore.”‘ Mitch Winehouse said. He said Amy had been playing her drums and singing in the home the night before her death.
“But knowing she wasn’t depressed, knowing she passed away, knowing she passed away happy, it makes us all feel better,” he said, adding that he hopes to set up an Amy Winehouse Foundation that would help people beat substance abuse.
The cab driver and jazz singer, who helped foster his daughter’s love of music, ended his eulogy with the words “Goodnight, my angel, sleep tight. Mummy and Daddy love you ever so much.”
The Jewish service was led by a rabbi and included prayers in English and Hebrew.
It ended with a rendition of Carole King’s “So Far Away,” one of Winehouse’s favorite songs.
“Mitch was funny, he told some great stories from childhood about how headstrong she was, and clearly the family and friends recognized the stories and laughed along,” said family spokesman Chris Goodman.
“He stressed so many times she was happier now than she had ever been and he spoke about her boyfriend and paid tribute to a lot of people in her life.”
Family friend Alfie Ezekiel, 55, said the service had been a “joyful” celebration of the singer’s life. “Mitch gave a very good eulogy and he managed to get through it very well, considering,” he said.
Close family and friends – including Winehouse’s recent boyfriend, Reg Traviss – moved on to Golders Green Crematorium, where the singer was cremated.
Several mourners, including Ronson – who co-produced Winehouse’s breakthrough album “Back to Black” – looked emotional as they left the red brick structure, which has seen the cremations of thousands of ordinary Londoners and many celebrities, including psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, comedian Peter Sellers and drummer Keith Moon of The Who.
The family was then due to hold two days of shiva, a Jewish traditional period of mourning.
The soul diva, who had battled alcohol and drug addiction for years, was found dead Saturday at her London home. She was 27.
An autopsy held Monday failed to determine what caused her death. Police are awaiting the results of toxicology tests, which will take two to four weeks.
Winehouse released only two albums in her short career – winning five Grammy awards for “Back to Black” – and often made headlines because of drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, destructive relationships and abortive performances.
Since her death, her records have re-entered album charts around the world, and tributes have poured in from fans and fellow musicians.
George Michael called her “the most soulful vocalist this country has ever seen,” and soul singer Adele said she “paved the way for artists like me and made people excited about British music again.”