Amy Winehouse’s 1 and Only Grammy Performance Almost Didn’t Happen at All
Before her death in 2011, Amy Winehouse released two noteworthy albums: Frank and Back to Black. The latter arrived in 2006 and launched the British soul singer into the stratosphere, earning her praise from the likes of Prince, Nas, Tony Bennett, and Rihanna.
Winehouse’s talents garnered her accolades from around the world, and she won multiple awards, including Grammys, the Mercury Prize, and BRIT Awards. Back to Black stands as her most popular piece of work, and the album went multi-platinum.
When Winehouse was riding the wave of her music’s success, she scored five Grammy nominations and was invited to perform at the 2008 ceremony. Her appearance was a highly anticipated event, but it almost didn’t happen.
Amy Winehouse performed at the 2008 Grammys
Back to Black captured audiences and the powers-that-be behind the Grammy Awards. In 2008, the Grammys celebrated 50 years, and the singer wound up taking home honors for Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Pop Vocal Album.
With all the buzz surrounding her music, Winehouse locked in to perform live via satellite.
The show’s producers explained that last minute issues with securing a U.S. work visa prevented her from being there in person. Though she gave a kickass show, behind the scenes, there was more to the story.
Winehouse’s label gave her an ultimatum on the Grammys
According to Winehouse’s father Mitch, Universal Records demanded she go to rehab or the Grammys and BRIT Awards were off the table.
A video published by The Sun showed Winehouse allegedly using drugs, causing a media frenzy. He wrote about it in his book, Amy, My Daughter, and stated label boss Lucian Grainge insisted she receive medical treatment.
Winehouse, her father, Grainge, two doctors, and her PR team met to go over the plan. Reluctantly, Winehouse agreed to be admitted to a rehab clinic.
Per Mitch Winehouse, this action occurred a weeks before her scheduled Grammy appearance. In the meantime, she was also under investigation for alleged criminal activity. Unless Winehouse checked in, Grainge would not let her work.
Mitch Winehouse said Amy Winehouse’s drug use caused visa decline
Mitch wrote that his daughter made progress while at the clinic and doctors were optimistic. He checked her out of the facility one day to complete testing for her U.S. visa. “The U.S. Embassy said they would let us know their decision within forty-eight hours,” he recalled.
Amy Winehouse returned to rehab hospital and per her father, someone smuggled drugs to her by hiding them inside a teddy bear. She took some of them, but the rest were removed from her reach.
Mitch claimed they were still optimistic Amy would be well enough to get her visa and perform at the Grammys in the U.S. But someone on Winehouse’s team had a backup plan.
“We still had no word from the U.S. Embassy about Amy’s visa and, as time was running out, Raye arranged for her to perform in London on a live link to the Grammys,” Mitch wrote.
“It was a smart move. Not long after, we learned that the embassy had decline Amy’s visa application on the grounds that traces of cocaine had been found in her blood.”
Winehouse was upset about the rejection and wanted to leave the facility. Mitch allowed it. But Grainge and the rest of the group met to reiterate to the singer that she must stay clean or they’d cancel the satellite show. According to Mitch, she was excited about performing but he had doubts she’d be able to stay away from drugs.
However, he remembered that he found no signs that she was on anything, and her live stream from the studio in Hammersmith went off without a hitch.
Amy Winehouse accepted her Grammys that night and she celebrated with her family afterward. It was her first and only time performing for the event.