Amy Winehouse would’ve turned 39 on September 14. Before her death at age 27, she delivered a number of iconic songs and in return inspired a generation of artists that came after. With a distinctive voice and a crooner sensibility that was made edgier with wry lyricism, it’s easy to see which artists have taken a page out of Winehouse’s book. However, there are a few surprise artists that are a little harder to pinpoint but still credit the late singer for molding their career.
To honor the singer, we’re going through 10 artists that have been inspired by Winehouse’s music, her groundbreaking success in the U.S., and her iconic image. Let’s dive in.
Adele’s 21, picked up where Winehouse’s Back to Black left off. Utilizing the same jazzy inspirations as Winehouse, Adele’s sophomore album went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide. Adele has long credited the late singer for inspiring her early career. “Amy paved the way for artists like me and made people excited about British music again,” Adele wrote in a 2011 tribute. “I don’t think she ever realized just how brilliant she was and how important she is.”
2. Lady Gaga
Though no one would instantly compare Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse’s music, for the dance-pop icon, Winehouse offered inspiration in other areas—encouraging her to be herself. “I don’t believe what I do is very digestible,” Gaga explained in 2011 upon Winehouse’s death, “and somehow Amy was the flu for pop music. And everybody got a little bit of the flu…. and fell in love with Amy Winehouse. And now, when more flu comes along, it’s not so unbearable.”
3. Florence And The Machine
Florence And The Machine frontwoman, Florence Welch, has said she felt a renewed spirit after seeing one of Winehouse’s early sets at Glastonbury festival in the U.K. “Seeing her up there made me think, wow, there is a place for female singer-songwriters in this world.”
4. Sam Smith
“I miss Amy Winehouse so fucking much,” Smith once tweeted. “Her music still inspires just as much as it did the first day I heard it.” Being an English singer who took over America with his candid and deeply personal love songs, it is easy to see how Winehouse could be an inspiration for Sam Smith.
5. Ellie Goulding
Much like Lady Gaga, Ellie Goulding and Winehouse don’t have much in common, sonically. But what they do share is being female English artists trying to make it big in music. The fact that Goulding credits Winehouse for paving the way, is evidence of just how far her influence has reached.
“She’ll be an inspiration not just because of her music but because she was an icon and legend,” Goulding once said. “She helped pave the way for females like me in America.”
Winehouse’s skillful lyricism has inspired artists across genres—even those in the hip-hop world. Though Winehouse did employ a healthy amount of hip-hop in her music, you wouldn’t immediately guess that rappers would model their verses after the late singer. However, Future once revealed that while making his 2014 album Honest he listened to “a lot of Amy Winehouse.”
7. Emeli Sandé
Emeli Sandé once admitted that Back to Black made her want to up her game while she was making her 2012 album, Our Version of Events. The challenge certainly paid off for Sandé as the album went seven-times platinum. “It just inspired me to write better and really put my heart out there—not try to hide anything,” the soul singer explained.
8. Lana Del Rey
The cult alternative singer has long expressed that she admires Winehouse for the authenticity she infused in her music. “I believe in Amy Winehouse,” Lana Del Rey said in a 2013 interview. “I know she’s not with us anymore but I believe she was who she was, and in that way, she got it right.”
9. Paloma Faith
Paloma Faith almost fell in the ranks of Winehouse’s backing band, though she ultimately declined the offer. Nevertheless, Faith has always made nods to Winehouse in her music. Notably on her biggest hit “Only Love Can Hurt Like This.” Change the tempo a bit and the track could pass off as a Winehouse cut.
10. Mark Ronson
Famed producer Mark Ronson collaborated with Winehouse a number of times throughout his career– notably Back to Black and her cover of The Zutons’ “Valerie.” When she died in 2011, Ronson said he had lost his “musical soulmate.”
(Photo by Gary Miller/FilmMagic)