Janis Winehouse: I feel Amy’s presence with me always

The mother of Amy Winehouse has said she feels the presence of her late daughter with her “always”.

The singer, best known for songs including Back To Black and Rehab, died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27 at her home in Camden, north London, on July 23 2011.

Ahead of the 10th anniversary of her death and a new one-off BBC documentary aiming to uncover “the real Amy”, her mother, Janis Winehouse-Collins, told ITV’s Lorraine: “Amy was very much herself and that’s how it worked… Whenever I said ‘Amy, don’t do that’ she thought I said ‘Carry on!’”

Grammys 2021
Amy Winehouse (Niall Carson/PA)

Asked if she is all right watching old performances of her daughter, she said: “Oh yes, more than. She’s here, always, always. She’s with me, I’ve got that sense.”

Recalling their last words to each other, the day before Amy died, Janis said: “I remember exactly. I said to her ‘Amy, I love you’ and she said, ‘I love you too, Mummy.’

“But that’s how we were and I could express my love to her, always. She was very protective of me.”

Amy’s stepfather, Richard Collins, said it is important to recognise that the singer worked hard to battle her addictions, saying: “She did try, it’s a misrepresentation.

“The family bent over backwards, but what people seem to forget is that she was a married woman, she was 27, she was living independently, she was wealthy.

“People tried to help her, from her management, to Mitch (her father), to Janis, the family.

“Amy did what Amy wanted to do and that was the bottom line of it. People think she was a very weak character, but she wasn’t. Far from it. She was very, very strong.”

Mr Collins also recalled the moment he told his wife that her daughter had died, saying: “It was the worst day of my life. I got the phone call to say that Amy had gone.

Amy Winehouse Music Walk of Fame – London
Mitch Winehouse (left) and wife Jane, and Janis Winehouse-Collins (right) and husband Richard at the unveiling of a stone honouring Amy Winehouse in the Music Walk of Fame in Camden, north London (Victoria Jones/PA)

“It was actually her cousin Martin that phoned. I said ‘Don’t be silly, we were with her yesterday.’ And he said ‘No, I’m being absolutely serious.’

“And then I had to tell Janis. I said ‘Janis, I don’t know what to say, she’s gone.’ She looked at me and she thought I was talking about my mum, because my mum died a month after Amy – my mum was seriously ill.”

Fighting back tears, he added: “She said ‘It’s just your mum’ and I said ‘No, no. Your baby, she’s really gone.’ And Jan just stood there.”

The couple said they have taken comfort from the work of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity that helps to support other young people struggling with addiction.

Mr Collins said: “That’s very, very important to the family. Mitch, his wife Jane – who’s our CEO – work so hard.

“Unfortunately, because of Janis’s condition (MS) we can’t be as involved in it as we’d like.

“I think we’ve reached out on our drug resilience programme to over 200,000 children around the country, with reformed addicts going into schools rather than the policeman or the local teacher.

“(They say) ‘This is what happened to me.’ The intervention, it’s wonderful.”