What if Amy Winehouse had been left alone?
Sunday 17 May 2015 06.00 BST
Every now and then in Camden in the early 2000s you’d see a mob of photographers moving like a single ball of flashing fire, and you’d know Amy Winehouse was in there somewhere. At the time she appeared to have been roughly drawn in hair and Rimmel, but strong in the way a cartoon is strong, like anvils could fall on her and she’d be fine, once the birds had stopped circling.
There’s a bit towards the beginning of the new Amy Winehouse documentary (it premiered yesterday in Cannes) when her father, Mitch, remembers the time her friends were urging him to send her to rehab. Though he elaborated on it later, he told them, famously, that he thought she was fine. Her old manager discusses that period with the regret of a man who has lain awake for many nights. He believes now that this was the moment they could have saved her. Because, of course, from there we know the story, with all its music and awe, all its moments of horror. It was the album she wrote next that sent her life bananas, and brought her too much fame, it turned out, for a tiny body to handle.