Ten years on from the death of Amy Winehouse, the team that arranged her to play in Dingle during her rise to stardom have reflected on their meeting with the talented singer.
Winehouse was one of the most talented and brilliant singer/songwriters of her generation.
Unfortunately, her life was plagued by alcohol and drug abuse, and she passed away on July 23rd 2011.
A decade on from her tragic death, the producers of Other Voices have spoken about the time they met Winehouse.
The Camden star performed on the RTE show in 2006 when she was 23 and had just released her second album Back to Black.
Philip King, who founded the Other Voices show, recalls the time he first met the star and her band, minus the drummer.
He said: “There was just the bass player, Dale Davis, and the guitar player, Robin Bannerjee. The three of them arrived on a cold, wet, winter evening. Landed into Dingle, and she was wearing her drainpipe jeans and she had her beehive hairdo adding to her height.”
Aoife Woodlock was the person responsible for booking Winehouse for Other Voices. She said: “My first impressions of Amy were her humour, her hardcore-ness, she had the tattoos of a sailor, she was uncompromising, she had a filthy tongue but got away with it, she was just herself. She was tiny, but her smile and her hair were the biggest thing in the room.
“She had such power and control when she was singing, and those were the two things she didn’t appear to have when she was offstage.”
The singer played an intimate set to a small crowd in St James Church in Dingle for the show. It has gone down as one of the best performances of her career.
King explained: “It was just a remarkable performance of those songs, and I think the fact that there was no drummer there was interesting from a musical point of view, because it just pointed up her ability to sing completely free when there’s no kick-drummer tying everything down.
“I don’t think I ever saw anything like it. She was in body and soul a singer, and she was just glorious.”
John Kelly was the presenter of Other Voices at the time of Winehouse’s performance, and he explained that everybody who was there knew they were witnessing something special.
He said: “Just out of sight there on the side of that little tiny stage is the door into the vestry and I was standing in that doorway, so I was literally a couple of feet away just watching her perform, and it was spectacularly good.
“The performance was absolutely stunning and you were left in no doubt that you were in the presence of a real singer. Just one of those rare, special kinds of people.”
Woodlock also revealed that Kelly’s interview with Winehouse was one of the highlights of the night.
She said: “You couldn’t buy an interview like it. It was just an absolutely brilliant conversation to witness. They jazzed-off. It was unbelievable.
“The whole conversation was music, music, music. It looked like someone had just plugged her in. Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, the Ronettes, Dinah Washington, and at one point she kept saying to John ‘Stop, stop, stop’, putting her hand out, she was talking over him.”
Kelly agreed and recalled speaking with the troubled star. He said: “When Amy came along, we hit it off, as you do with anyone else you meet who has a shared interest in music, or would have mutual friends, perhaps, or know various musicians you know.
“I was delighted to be talking to someone who knows who Ella Fitzgerald is, and knows who Sarah Vaughan is, and knows who Ray Charles is, and knows who Thelonious Monk is.
“And I think she was probably pleasantly surprised to be asked about those things, as opposed to her growing reputation as a drinker, because she did already have that rep, and she had made a few appearances on television where she was under the weather, and she had become a tabloid figure.”
Winehouse’s performance in front of 80 people in Dingle is regarded as one of her finest and displayed her talent to the full.
King recognises that he was very fortunate to have been a part of the production.
He said: “As her career peaked, and then she began to go into decline, there were some really terrible, tragic performances. People who understood her brilliant talent, they wanted to find a place where she was singing beautifully, and on top of her game, so many eyes turned towards this performance.
“Her fall from grace was extraordinarily difficult, and I think the turmoil and the fire in her head, and the fact that she had entered a chemical world that she found very difficult to get out of, is the stuff of tabloid delight, but for people who cared for her and admired her, [and wanted to remember] her at the height of her powers, this was it.”
Woodlock also recalled how happy and content Winehouse appeared to be during her stay in Dingle, where there were no paparazzi following her every move.
Speaking about the late star’s visit, Woodland explained: “She said ‘I feel so free here!’ She just had an amazing day here. She was sober, she was well, she was in good form.”
Take a look at some of the incredible performance from that special night below.