Amy Winehouse: 20 Musicians Inspired By The Legendary Singer On What She Means To Them

More than a decade on from her untimely death, the iconic star's legacy lives on.
Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Getty

A version of this article was originally published in July 2021, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s death.

More than a decade on from Amy Winehouse’s death at the age of 27, the legendary performer is still revered as a one-off vocalist, a game-changing artist and a truly influential figure in the music scene.

To remember her legacy on what would have been her 40th birthday, here are 20 artists and musicians who have been inspired by Amy and what the Back To Black singer meant to them...

Speaking during a concert in 2016

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“I owe so much of my career to Amy. Her first album, Frank, really changed my life.

“I used to see her on TV or in magazine shoots with a pink electric guitar, and I used to think she was the coolest motherfucker on the face of the Earth. And because of her, I picked up a guitar and because of her, I wrote my own songs.

“The songs I got signed on were the songs that I wrote completely on my own. If it wasn’t for her, that wouldn’t have happened [...] I’m obviously completely happy with all the music that she left behind because it’s all genius. But every day, I wish I could hear a new song from her.”

To Rolling Stone in 2011

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“She was my only hope when I was up and coming. Nobody knew who I was and I had no fans, no record label and everybody, when they met me, said I wasn’t pretty enough or that my voice was too low or strange. They had nowhere to put me. And then I saw her in Rolling Stone and I saw her live. I just remember thinking ‘well, they found somewhere to put Amy…’.

“She’s really special. She just gave me a lot of hope and she deserved a lot better than what people gave her… I hope she knows now in heaven, where she is, how much we all loved her.”

To Q magazine in 2015

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“Without a question the album that changed my life would have to be Amy Winehouse’s debut album, Frank. I can still remember hearing it in my dad’s car when I was 11 on the way to school… it totally blew me away.

“It was so honest emotionally. It reminds me that I need to try and be that honest in my own song writing. I never got to meet her, but she’ll always be an icon.”

To Line Of Best Bit in 2019

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“Her music’s amazing, and she was amazing. Such a great loss to the British music industry, and to the world, really. She’s so missed ­– what a gift her music was to us.

“Often I’ll listen to music ’cause musically it’s something I love, but although she ticks every box for me, I just loved what Amy was saying lyrically and how she found such a free way to be herself through music.”

Paying tribute in 2011

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“Before [Amy], Glastonbury had been more emblematic of male artists and bands. Seeing her up there made me think, wow, there is a place for female singer-songwriters in this world.”

To Marie Claire in 2018

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“When I started to make music professionally, Amy inspired me. I really looked up to her even though I was only a couple of years younger.

“Amy put up with a lot of bullshit, but she was tough. She definitely had an attitude, but she wasn’t rude. She knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid of speaking her mind.

“She wrote some incredible songs that will live on forever and ever.”

To The Guardian in 2012

David M. Benett via Getty Images

“I don’t talk about Amy Winehouse as a ‘singer’. She’s a pioneer. I listened to her endlessly when I started writing.”

To Spin in 2019

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“She wasn’t trying to be anything she wasn’t. She changed a whole generation of music.

“When everyone lists off the people that have inspired them, now, Amy Winehouse is always on that list. And it’s true – everything about her [was inspiring]. She was incredible.”

To i-D in 2016

Ian West - PA Images via Getty Images

“She’s my G. I saw the [documentary, Amy] – it got me flipping angry... [Amy’s story] struck a chord with me in the sense that, as a creative, it looks like on the outside, that it’s very ‘go studio, make a hit, go and perform it around the world, champagne in the club, loads of girls’. But the graft and the emotional strain of being a musician is very hard. No one ever sees that part.

“So I understand what happened, in a sense, to Amy. It’s so fucking sad.”

To Billboard in 2017

Matt Cardy via Getty Images

″[Amy’s album Frank] was so honest and real. You can believe everything. “Stronger Than Me” ― oh my god. I used to listen to that and I used to just get mad when I heard that song.”

Paying tribute in 2011

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“She’s one of my favourite vocalists of all time... I love her so much.”

To Interview magazine in 2012

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“I was very influenced by her, and her voice and her singing of her pain, and playing guitar and just being a normal girl. She just wants to express herself. I loved her and I still listen to her music.”

To Fashion magazine in 2013

Kevin Kane via Getty Images

“I believe in Amy Winehouse. I know she’s not with us anymore but I believe she was who she was and in that way, she got it right.”

To BBC Radio 2 in 2021

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“She felt like this diamond in the rough, but the rough bits about her were the beautiful bits... that’s why she’s a star.

“She’s a star and an icon, and you will never be tired of that voice, and those songs will never feel tired, because it was all just fully her. She owned every piece of her.

“And I think that’s what maybe broke the mould... she was a pioneer for us female UK artists.”

To Billboard in 2015

Tim Mosenfelder via Getty Images

“She’s a massive inspiration... I didn’t know her and I’m so sad that I never got to meet her, and I’m so sad about how it ended because she was just an unbelievable talent. Unbelievable. She’s one of the greatest artists to ever come out of this country and to come out of London.”

To the Evening Standard in 2021

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“Amy Winehouse is the most iconic Londoner ever. I was a huge fan and my mum was, too.”

To NME in 2015

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“I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary on the plane and I had tears in my eyes because I could see what the media was doing to her, how they were treating her. People thought it was funny to poke her when she was at rock bottom, to keep pushing her down until she had no more of herself.”

To The Mirror in 2011

MARK RALSTON via Getty Images

“Amy definitely paved the way for people like me... She broke boundaries, she set the standard. She wrote music that went worldwide. Until that point British female artists hadn’t really done anything since Annie Lennox. That was a long time ago.

“I kind of feel like Amy brought it back and I don’t think she even realised that she did it – she was so kind of humble.”

Paying tribute in 2011

Dave M. Benett via Getty Images

“She was an extraordinary musician with a rare intuition as a vocalist. I am truly devastated that her exceptional talent has come to such an early end.”

To BBC Radio 5 Live in 2015

Dave Hogan via Getty Images

“I think certain kinds of lessons – whether they were studio lessons or life lessons, I learnt [from her]. She was extraordinarily smart and honest and all these things, and definitely had a lot of character things I looked up to. We were good friends.

“There were things I took away from our friendship and looked up to even though I was older... she’s always around in the studio.”


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