Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

The blame starts over Amy Winehouse's death

Row flares as distraught Mitch weeps at shrine

Mitch and Janis Winehouse view the flowers left by well-wishers outside the north London home of their daughter Amy

A dispute has broken out between Amy Winehouse's management and her record label as friends and family prepare for the 27-year-old singer's funeral today.

The row broke out hours after Winehouse's grief-stricken parents made an emotional visit to see the tributes left outside the home where she died.

Mitch and Janis Winehouse sobbed as they looked at the flowers, candles, cuddly toys and even cigarette boxes and alcoholic drinks left at the edge of police cordons surrounding the singer's house in Camden, north London.

Mr Winehouse, who flew back from New York after hearing the news of his daughter's death, told a crowd gathered outside that they were "devastated", adding: "You people in the street, I can't tell you what this means to us - it really is making this a lot easier for us."

He added: "Amy was about one thing and that was love, her whole life was devoted to her family and her friends and to you guys as well. We're devastated and I'm speechless but thanks for coming."

A spokesman for the family said Ms Winehouse's funeral will take place today and will be "a family and close friends affair".

He would not reveal details about the location or time of the funeral, which Jewish law states has to take place as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the singer's management angrily has rejected criticism from her label over the decision to send the troubled singer on a European tour days before she was found dead from a drug overdose.

Darcus Beese, co-president of Island Records, her label, is understood to have said it was "mad" to sign up Winehouse for the 12-date tour that was aborted after she gave a shambolic performance in Belgrade. He is believed to have recommended that Winehouse part company with Metropolis, the live-music promotion company that began looking after the singer in 2006.

Raye Cosbert, the singer's manager, is angry about the allegations and is now compiling a dossier of the personal support and counselling assistance Metropolis provided for the singer.

A friend said: "It's very hurtful. Raye is currently cataloguing all the help she did receive. Amy always made the decision to play any show, arrangements were always made in discussions with her doctors and really no one could have done more to support her."

Mr Cosbert became Winehouse's manager after the singer split from Spice Girl svengali Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment company.

Mr Cosbert was regarded within the music industry as a stabilising influence on the singer; he worked with her family to persuade her to get help. Metropolis provided Winehouse with security and a housemate-cum-minder, renting homes for her to live in and ensuring she attended rehab clinics. Mr Cosbert was travelling to New York with Amy's father, Mitch, who had launched a singing career with Metropolis, when her body was found.

Jazz Summers, a veteran manager of acts from Wham! to The Verve, who has worked with Mr Cosbert, said: "It's easy for record companies to point the finger, but managers today will always put their artists' welfare first. Raye will be hurt by people who criticise him because Amy hadn't really been on a worldwide tour for three years and he had tried to get her straight.

"I've dealt with artists who are addicts. You are dealing with the addiction, not the person. Often it's the artist who wants to go out and perform and they get abusive if you try to stop them. They can appear fine until they get to the dressing room but they can relapse very quickly."

Meanwhile, Winehouse's friends and family may have to wait a month to find out the cause of the singer-songwriter's death, after a post-mortem examination was unable to establish a formal cause.

Amy Winehouse battled drink and drug problems throughout her career and news of her death was quickly followed by suggestions that it could be related to one or the other. The troubled artist had cancelled all tour dates last month after a series of erratic appearances. She was booed at a shambolic gig in Serbia.

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