Alex Foden, the flatmate and former stylist of Amy Winehouse, has today spoken out about the singers generosity and kindness and also confirmed the demons that plagued her.
Foden, a recovering addict himself, has talked to The Mirror about the time her shared with Winehouse and how she helped save his life, by paying over £130k to put him through rehab. He told the newspaper:
“I had some brilliant, crazy, wonderful times with Amy – she made me the person I am today.
“She was a funny, generous, big-hearted girl and I have no regrets. She has been such a huge part of my life and I feel privileged to have been a part of hers. I don’t blame her for getting me into drugs – I knew what I was doing. Amy spent around £130,000 on rehab for me… she saved my life.
“My heart goes out to her family, especially her dad Mitch, who was like a father to me. This is a total tragedy.
“Amy always told me she thought she would die young and that she knew she’d become a part of the 27 Club.
“I think she almost needed to die as a legend. Although everyone around her knew it was going to happen, it was still a shock. I’ve been crying pretty much ever since I heard.”
Amy, who will be cremated today, was described by Foden as being “supremely kind, modest, loving young girl”, whilst he described her generosity to friends, and him in particular in way of rent and rehab, despite not being able to commit to it herself.
He also laments the £1,000-a-day drug and alcohol habit which contributed to her tragic death at her home in Camden, North London, on Saturday – and which so very nearly killed him, too.
He also reveals she had cut back on drugs, but had been drinking increasing amounts of Jack Daniel’s whisky instead.
The pair first bonded on the set of Amy’s haunting Back To Black video in 2006 – in which Amy is seen throwing earth over her own coffin.
Alex says: “That video was tragically prophetic. What’s really devastating is that I think Amy knew it all along.
“She had a virtual panic attack on set after seeing the grave with ‘Here lies the heart of Amy Winehouse’ on the headstone.
“She got so upset I got sent out to get her a few hot toddies so she could get through the whole ordeal.
“Eventually we got her name removed from the tombstone, but the reason Amy got so freaked out was because she knew this was where her life was heading. It scared her.
“That whole album was so huge, yet so dark, she was always scared she would never live up to it. She told me she’d given her record label three different albums and they’d said ‘no’ to each one for being too reggae-heavy, or too jazzy or whatever.
“It was hard for her to take. But Amy was so modest – she would never, ever sing one of her own songs if someone asked her to in a bar, she just got embarrassed. And she never discussed her own music, I think because the lyrics were so personal, so dark.”
Alex and Amy, who lived together in East London for a year, spiralled into heavy drug taking over an 18-month period. Recalling that time – in which his weight dropped to just 7st 7lb – Alex admits that, along with Amy’s then husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, they would spend up to £1,000 a day on their habit. He was with the couple when they got arrested for cannabis possession in Norway in October 2007.
He says: “Amy was very generous so she’d pay for all the drugs – mainly coke, heroin and cannabis. At her worst she could get through about £1,000-worth of gear in 24 hours. Her limits were incredible, but she usually knew how much she could take.
“Because heroin depletes the sugar levels in your blood, she used to mainly survive off sweets. At one point she was basically sponsored by Haribo.
“They would send us about £200 of Tangfastics and Starmix bags – we had a 4ft high cupboard crammed with the stuff.
“Unfortunately, Amy had a very obsessive personality.
“She did everything to extremes, especially when it came to food and drugs. She loved food. But she’d either have binges – eating loads before running to the toilet and getting rid of it all again – or she’d go for up to four or five days without eating, surviving on alcohol, drugs and sweets.
“Often, when she got sent clothes, they’d be too big for her. I’d have to ring the designers and tell them to adjust the dresses and measure them up against a seven-year-old child. She had a 21in waist – at times, smaller. It is little wonder her poor body eventually gave in.”
Alex was with Amy in December 2007 when she swallowed over £2,000 of heroin before smuggling it into the Caribbean island of Mustique, where she was staying with rocker Bryan Adams.
“It was absolutely crazy. Amy had worked on a photoshoot with Bryan and he’d invited us both to stay at his villa in Mustique for Christmas, to help her get clean and detox.
“He wanted to help. Thinking he wouldn’t be there, she leapt at the chance.”
“I watched her as she swallowed seven £300 wraps of heroin before boarding the plane.
“It was a crazy, stupid thing to do. If even one had opened inside her, she could have died. But at that stage her addiction was so bad, she didn’t care. Management didn’t let me go – they knew that together we’d just go and find drugs.
“Within days she was on the phone to me, moaning that there was no booze in the fridges, only beetroot and carrot juices, and the only food on offer was vegan.”
But there was another nurturing, home-body side to Amy which Alex also cherishes.
He says: “At the heart of it, Amy was simply a lovely, bubbly Jewish girl who wanted to be loved.
“She was incredibly clean and tidy at home, and could be a real matriarch, looking after everyone and cooking for all her friends and family.
“All she wanted to be was a mum. I think if she and Blake had had a child she would still be here today.
“Once, before she went on stage in Zurich, she told Blake she thought she was pregnant. She was so happy and excited. She sent a girl out to buy two pregnancy tests, but when she did them they came back negative.
“She was heartbroken and went on stage that night a shell of a woman.
“She got slated for that gig. People said she was pulling drugs out of her beehive and sniffing them while she was on stage, but she wasn’t.
“She was actually crying and wiping her nose.”
Alex doesn’t blame Blake for Amy’s heavy drug-taking. He is still sad that their marriage broke down – despite witnessing the fall-out of their tempestuous rows.
Their arguments, heightened by Amy’s heroin dependency, often saw the singer going on a rampage around the house, smashing up furniture.
Alex says: “Those two loved each other with a passion which is hard to describe for anyone who hasn’t been so overwhelmingly in love and dependent on another human being.
“They were still in contact when she died, which goes to show she still loved him, and he likewise.
“But their rows were violent and horrible, even when Blake was in prison first time around. She would come off the phone from him shouting and crying, throwing things around the place, smashing TV screens – we got through about two a month – picture frames, glass mirrors, anything.
Alex, who recently worked on the Steven Spielberg movie War Horse, will be there to pay his respects at Amy’s funeral today.
Although a truly remarkable talent as well as a cherished friend has gone, he has no doubt that her legend will live on.
He says: “Amy was the most incredible, warm, wonderful human being but, ultimately, a fallible one.
“She changed my life and I will always be indebted to her. If there is any good to come from her death, I hope it’s that hundreds of lives will be saved as people realise the serious effects of drugs – they aren’t glamorous and do kill. “I set up the Foundation for Amy. The whole point of it was to make her stand up and see it. I was hoping it would be a wake-up call for her.
“I know she was proud of the work I am doing, but it looks like it came too late.
“It is simply heart-breaking, but I am now doing this in her memory.”