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EXCLUSIVE: Amy Winehouse’s personal photographer reveals what she was really like before worldwide fame and what she would think of the modern music industry

todayOctober 29, 2023 4

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She made an extraordinary impact on the music industry in the 2000s and the tragic end she met in 2011. 

But Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning at the young age of 27, was just a ‘normal girl from North London’ when she met photographer Charles Moriarty.

Now, the Irishman, 41, has revealed to Daily Mail Australia what the Rehab hitmaker was really like in those cresting years before fame swept her up. 

Introduced to one another by a mutual friend, Charles met Amy in 2003 when she was ‘on the cusp of fame’ and months away from releasing her debut album Frank. 

‘She just seemed like most young girls around the age of 19,’ Charles told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday. 

Amy Winehouse (pictured) was largely known for the extraordinary impact she made on the music industry in the 2000s and the tragic end she met in 2011

He continued: ‘You know, quite intelligent, witty, good fun, and certainly knew what she wanted musically and how she wanted to be represented.

‘Those were the conversations I had with her, how to represent her authentic self through these photographs.’

The photographs were ones he snapped in the months leading up to the release of her first studio album Frank. 

After she tried out several other photographers to create her debut album cover, Charles was recommended to Amy by their mutual friend Tyler James. 

Without realising the incredible success Amy would obtain, Charles managed to capture the ‘vivacious’ essence of her during those young and hopeful years.

But the British singer, who died of alcohol poisoning at the young age of 27, was just a 'normal girl from North London' when she met photographer Charles Moriarty

But the British singer, who died of alcohol poisoning at the young age of 27, was just a ‘normal girl from North London’ when she met photographer Charles Moriarty

Twenty years later, Charles is hosting an exhibition of those intimate and timeless photographs in Collingwood, Melbourne next Wednesday called Amy, Before Frank.

‘[I want to leave] a lasting memory of the girl rather than the person [everyone] knew towards the end in the tabloids,’ Charles said. 

‘It’s something that’s a very intimate experience and, in my opinion, a true image of Amy as she was when she was 19.’

He said he hopes people will look at the photos of Amy and see her as ‘someone who loved to laugh, was vivacious, a bit of a character, and could be a loud mouth’. 

‘At the end of the day, I think Amy was, in many ways, just a normal girl from North London who also had this extraordinary talent,’ he added.

‘I hope they’ll be able to see that in these images. The girl who was on the cusp of fame and cresting a wave.’

Now, the Irishman, 41, (pictured with Triple J's Lucy Smith) has revealed to Daily Mail Australia what the Rehab hitmaker was really like in those cresting years before fame swept her up

Now, the Irishman, 41, (pictured with Triple J’s Lucy Smith) has revealed to Daily Mail Australia what the Rehab hitmaker was really like in those cresting years before fame swept her up

Charles also revealed how incredible Amy was at connecting with people through her music and her words. 

‘I think that was one of the strongest things she could do with her words was connect with people,’ he said.

‘I think that’s why people loved her music so much. She spoke to so many people through that. 

‘Even without that, just herself, she was able to connect with you pretty nicely.’

When asked what he thought Amy would think of the current age of music and how it’s been influenced by apps like TikTok and Spotify, Charles laughed. 

Introduced to one another by a mutual friend, Charles met Amy in 2003 when she was 'on the cusp of fame' and months away from releasing her debut album Frank

Introduced to one another by a mutual friend, Charles met Amy in 2003 when she was ‘on the cusp of fame’ and months away from releasing her debut album Frank

‘I think she would have hated all of it. I really would have loved to see her [navigate it],’ he said.

‘I’m sure she would continue to genre bend her way through music and create incredible albums. 

‘She was such an incredible talent she really could have done anything with music. 

‘She’d have gone and done something completely different again and probably wowed everyone at the same time.’

Unfortunately, Charles and Amy lost touch after two years of friendship when he moved back home to Ireland. 

Amy asked Charles to help her create the cover for her debut album Frank, and this is the picture they ended up choosing from the collection he took that day

Amy asked Charles to help her create the cover for her debut album Frank, and this is the picture they ended up choosing from the collection he took that day

When he finally returned to London, Charles had been forced to watch from the sidelines as Amy’s battle with substance abuse and mental illness reached its peak. 

‘I tried to stay away from a lot of the stuff that happened in the press. I was certainly very proud of her watching her music explode across the world,’ he said. 

‘It was just hard to watch the darker end of things that happened in the press.

‘There was a part of me that always wanted to go knock [at her home] in Camden and just see if I could do anything or whatever, but I didn’t feel it was my place really.’

Charles originally released the images from Amy’s first photoshoot with him in 2016 almost five years after her death in a book called Before Frank. 

'She just seemed like most young girls around the age of 19. You know, quite intelligent, witty, good fun, and certainly knew what she wanted musically and how she wanted to be represented,' Charles said of Amy

‘She just seemed like most young girls around the age of 19. You know, quite intelligent, witty, good fun, and certainly knew what she wanted musically and how she wanted to be represented,’ Charles said of Amy

He said it took him a ‘long time’ to get back in contact with her parents Mitch and Janis and ‘get their trust about what I was doing with the images’. 

‘Releasing the images was really a direct response to how Amy was being perceived by press and also just people in general,’ Charles said.

‘There was a lot of bad press around here for quite a long time and I wanted to combat that by sharing images of the person I knew with the world.’ 

Amy’s life in the public eye took a turn for the worse when she became embroiled in heavy alcohol and substance abuse with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil.

The pair met in a pub in 2005 and later married in Miami in 2007 before divorcing in 2009 following a tempestuous on-off relationship. 

Six months into their marriage, Blake, 41, was jailed for an assault on a pub landlord which led to Amy’s famous Grammy Awards tribute: ‘My Blake, incarcerated.’

Charles said he hopes people will look at the photos he took of Amy and see her as 'someone who loved to laugh, was vivacious, a bit of a character, and could be a loud mouth'

Charles said he hopes people will look at the photos he took of Amy and see her as ‘someone who loved to laugh, was vivacious, a bit of a character, and could be a loud mouth’

Amy's life in the public eye took a turn for the worse when she became embroiled in heavy alcohol and substance abuse with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil (left)

Amy’s life in the public eye took a turn for the worse when she became embroiled in heavy alcohol and substance abuse with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil (left) 

The pair met in a pub in 2005 and later married in Miami in 2007 before divorcing in 2009 following a tempestuous on-off relationship which saw Blake be arrested and Amy go to rehab

The pair met in a pub in 2005 and later married in Miami in 2007 before divorcing in 2009 following a tempestuous on-off relationship which saw Blake be arrested and Amy go to rehab

He went to prison in the summer of 2008 after being convicted of perverting the course of justice and grievous bodily harm with intent over the attack.

During that time, Amy went to rehab, got a boyfriend and turned her back on hard drugs after Blake filed for divorce in 2009 from behind bars. 

Despite her attempts to get back into a relationship with the former music video assistant, the divorce ultimately went ahead uncontested. 

Amy quickly moved on with film director Reg Traviss who she was still dating when she died on July 23, 2011, of accidental alcohol poisoning.

Amy quickly moved on with film director Reg Traviss (right) who she was still dating when she died on July 23, 2011, of accidental alcohol poisoning

Amy quickly moved on with film director Reg Traviss (right) who she was still dating when she died on July 23, 2011, of accidental alcohol poisoning



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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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