Amy Winehouse performs her stage show for the last time on June 18, 2011.
This Day In Pop is a reoccurring RX piece, where BreatheHeavy examines a monumental anniversary in pop music. Whether it be a blockbuster release, game-changing performance, live mishap, or something in between, we’re here to dig through the archives and highlight some of the biggest moments in pop music history.
Many remember July 23, 2011 to be the most prominent mark in Amy Winehouse’s downfall as it was the day of her untimely passing, but June 18 of that year seems to be just as memorable for it was the final time that she’d hit the stage with a full set. Winehouse’s incoherent performance at Belgrade’s Tuborg Festival brought along much disappointment and served as a very clear indication that her art was no longer a priority for the troubled star. For this installment of This Day In Pop, BreatheHeavy is examining the Winehouse’s unfortunate performance in Belgrade, Serbia that put a final stop to her career.
After showing up an hour late, the 27-year-old singer’s troubles caught up to her in a big way when she took the stage in front of more 20,000 attendees and slurred her way through her performance. Winehouse’s image and troubles had already clouded her musicianship, but seeing her demons take control once again was nothing but sad. With international acclaim, five Grammy awards and millions of fans, the singer was meant for a fresh start and this was set to be the beginning of a 12-date tour.
Winehouse had just finished a rehab assessment at the Priory Clinic in London and was allowed to continue treatment as an outpatient to perform concerts, including her set at Belgrade’s Tuborg Festival. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down that Saturday night when thousands saw her stumble around the stage, forget the name of the city, clash with her bandmates and, most importantly, let down her fans. Reports had spread that her bodyguards forced the star to perform and did not allow her to leave the stage when she attempted to do so, but the blame isn’t very important. The damage was done. Some attendees booed her to embarrassment. Some attendees just walked out of the set. Either way, the reaction was so severe that it prompted her to cancel her European summer tour.
Footage of the concert still lives on YouTube, but the description should have already hit you hard enough. This is not the kind of show you wanted to attend nor view on the blogosphere. If you do dare, you’ll witness the crumbling of a soul, who was meant to do so much more than succumb to her demons. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Moby recalled sharing the bill with the Winehouse and what it was like to be a bystander to a moment that he wished he could have had a say in.
“The moment I got out of the car, I knew something was wrong,” the DJ told the outlet at a stop in Rome. “From backstage, I could hear the audience booing louder than the music. Amy was just standing there, swaying back and forth and mumbling occasionally. The band were playing quietly and looking uncomfortable and the audience was looking on in disbelief. She was on stage for about 30 minutes, then she left and was lying down on a flight case backstage surrounded by some people. I was horrified.”
Winehouse died just about a month later in her London home. The coroner credited the death to “fatal levels” of alcoholism. Despite sharing her fear of dying early, Winehouse joined the media’s much-publicized 27 Club, a string of folks who have passed away at the age of 27 like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. While Winehouse’s final stage set is certainly one that’s hard to digest, it is an important reminder as to why we try to have empathy for our stars in 2019. At one point during the performance, the glossy-eyed singer pulled her bodyguard over to her as a woman in the crowd yelled, “Who are you?” “Back To Black” immediately kicked off in the background and, despite her apparent struggles, Wineouse continued on with the set, performing for that one woman and the remainder of the festival audience. It’s all they truly seemed to care about in the moment.