An Irish photographer who was friends with tragic music star Amy Winehouse before her career had taken off, has spoken about the “wholesome, fun girl” he knew.
Charles Moriarty left his home in Dublin when he was 18 and moved to London to pursue a career in photography. There he met the then 19-year-old singer and the two struck up a friendship.
Charles met Amy when he did the photography for the cover of her first album Frank, and he recalls how focused she was on her work even at a young age.
He told the Irish Mirror: “We first met when I shot the album cover to Frank. She called around to my apartment in London and from there we had a conversation about what she wanted and for how she wanted people to perceive her through that cover.
“We went out and we took a couple of photos. Shortly after that we met again in London and after that we met in New York and did more photos.
“After that we became friends, really the photography became something that had happened in the past, it wasn’t something that was ongoing throughout the friendship.”
Charles explained that when he knew Amy, she had no major issues with alcohol or drugs and that he was shocked to see her decline after he had lost touch with her.
He said: “Apart from smoking a bit of weed and having a laugh, there was no drug abuse when I knew Amy in terms of the hard stuff. That never was on the cards or in the picture she would even say ‘drugs are for mugs.’
“The change was quite shocking.”
Amy died in 2011 at the age of 27 from alcohol poisoning.
Charles added: “The Amy that I knew was someone very generous and caring, loving. She was very much there for the people she loved. She was so very loud and funny. She also understood herself quite well. She knew what she wanted and she was really focused on her music.
“Being in the studio with her when she was recording you knew she was really on top of her stuff and knew how she wanted to sound and wanted to be perceived.
“She very much stuck to that. She didn’t care much for other people trying to change her or fall into any bulls**t.
“She’d call you out if she saw you do it.”
Charles moved back to Ireland when he was 23 and lost touch with Amy. She went on to become a megastar in the music industry, selling five million records across the world.
However, her addiction to drugs and alcohol also took control.
Charles revealed the shock and hurt he felt when he realised how bad things had got.
“All of a sudden the next I heard of Amy she sky rocketed with Rehab. I hadn’t seen her in a few years, things changed very quickly then and it was a bit of a shock actually.”
Charles has written a book and is putting on an exhibition in Dublin to display some of the photos he took of Amy during happier times.
He said: “The number one thing for releasing all of this work was to try and change people’s perception and to balance out what already exists out there and to show it didn’t all begin with how it was in the end.
“There was a downward spiral and Amy was at one point just like everyone else, except for she was an amazing talented girl from north London who had one of the best voices of the last century.
“It was hard for me when the documentary Amy came out. There was a lot in there that I had steered away from and I hadn’t seen and I definitely made a decision in my head that I also wanted people to know the person that I knew.”
He added: “To showcase that would be putting this book together and showing these photos to the world. That’s what I’ve done.
“In some ways it’s the first real photography that I did and 15 years later and it’s amazing to bring it back as my first solo show in Ireland. I’m looking forward to that and showing Amy to the rest of the world.”
Amy runs from May 10-31 in the CHQ building in Custom House Quay, Dublin.
You can find out more about Charles Moriarty and his photography by visiting charlesmoriartyphotography.com
If you would like to buy a copy of Moriarty’s book about Winehouse ‘Before Frank’ then visit beforefrank.com/