All About Amy Winehouse's Parents, Mitch and Janis Winehouse

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Amy Winehouse’s parents, Mitch and Janis Winehouse, are still honoring her life

<p>Gareth Davies/Getty</p> Amy Winehouse, Mitch Winehouse and Janis Winehouse at the 53rd Ivor Novello Awards on May 22, 2008 in London, England.

Gareth Davies/Getty

Amy Winehouse, Mitch Winehouse and Janis Winehouse at the 53rd Ivor Novello Awards on May 22, 2008 in London, England.

Amy Winehouse made her mark on the world with her remarkable talent and giving spirit, and her parents, Mitch and Janis Winehouse, are continuing her legacy years after her death.

Mitch, a cab driver and singer, and Janis, a pharmacist, knew their daughter was special from a young age — and now remember their daughter for her triumphs and not her struggles.

“We always wanted the world to know the real Amy, where she came from and what made her tick,” Mitch told PEOPLE in 2023. “She was a loyal, generous friend. She’d help anybody ... Just a wonderful human being who saw the best in everybody.”

Amy's dad and mom were involved in the late singer’s life and supported her through ups and downs as she publicly dealt with alcohol and drug addictions, as well as an eating disorder. Their devotion to their daughter and her image has stayed intact since she died at the age of 27 on July 23, 2011, from "alcohol toxicity."

Related: Amy Winehouse's Death: The Details Behind Her Sudden Passing

After the singer's death, Mitch revealed that she had successfully stopped using drugs and hadn't had alcohol for a few weeks. She was the “happiest she has been for years," he said in a press release (via MTV).

Here’s everything to know about Amy Winehouse’s parents — Mitch and Janis Winehouse — and how they are keeping the singer's memory alive, including through the new 2024 film, Back to Black.

Mitch is English and Janis is American

<p>David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty</p> Janis Winehouse and Mitch Winehouse attend a private view of The Amy Winehouse Foundation: Hope at Century Club on September 13, 2016 in London, England.

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty

Janis Winehouse and Mitch Winehouse attend a private view of The Amy Winehouse Foundation: Hope at Century Club on September 13, 2016 in London, England.

Mitch and Janis married in 1976, and they started a family with the birth of their child, son Alex, in 1980, according to The Standard. The former couple welcomed their daughter Amy in 1983 and completed their household.

In a 2004 interview with music journalist Paul Du Noyer, Amy opened up about growing up in north London with her parents. She revealed that Mitch is a local from the area, hailing from the East End, near their once-shared home in Southgate.

Meanwhile, Janis is originally from Brooklyn, New York, and she still has family in the U.S., specifically in Miami and Atlanta, but they didn't make regular trips across the pond because of financial reasons.

“We didn’t have that kind of money. I’m sure the family would have paid for us, but we’re proud people," Amy explained.

Amy used to handmake cards for her parents

<p>Fred Duval/FilmMagic</p> Amy Winehouse and Mitch Winehouse outside Cityburlesque on October 7, 2010 in London, England.

Fred Duval/FilmMagic

Amy Winehouse and Mitch Winehouse outside Cityburlesque on October 7, 2010 in London, England.

In honor of what would have been Amy's 40th birthday in 2023, Mitch and Janis released a biography titled Amy Winehouse: In Her Words. The project included never-before-seen photos of the late singer over the years, accompanied by drawings, collages and works of writing.

"Amy documented her school years in a scrapbook that she constantly updated. Her stories describe what she got up to ... Amy devoured films, musicals, novels, poetry," they wrote. "She could recite lyrics and sing tunes after hearing a song maybe just once or twice."

Mitch and Janis recalled how Amy often spent time alone in her room as a child, and they didn't always know what she was doing. That is, until a holiday rolled around, and she would have surprises for them.

“Suddenly, on Mother’s Day, a handmade card for Janis would appear with a cheeky poem written inside,” they shared, per The Telegraph. “Her cards are some of the best mementos we have to look back on her childhood, and her drawings and funny messages made us laugh then and now.”

They split when Amy was a child

<p>Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty</p> Janis Winehouse and Mitch Winehouse attend the Amy Winehouse Foundation Gala on October 5, 2017 in London, England.

Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty

Janis Winehouse and Mitch Winehouse attend the Amy Winehouse Foundation Gala on October 5, 2017 in London, England.

Amy was drawn to songwriting as a way to express herself from a young age, especially after her parents separated when she was around 9.

In a 2012 interview with the newspaper, Mitch shared that he had an affair from about 1984 to 1993, at which time he decided to leave the family's home. Reflecting on the moment, he told the outlet that Amy didn't have much of a response to the news and didn't appear to be affected, though she "became a lot more independent."

Still, Mitch would eventually learn that his daughter had thoughts about their split. "Maybe she could not articulate it in words, but she certainly did it with music," he explained to The Standard.

While Amy spent the rest of her childhood living with her mom and her brother, she stayed close to her dad, who was a major influence on her career and musical tastes.

On her first album Frank, the song “What Is It About Men” explored her feelings about Mitch’s infidelity, though she later found understanding for her father.

"Writing it made me realize a lot about myself and why Dad cheated," she told The Guardian in 2003. "I've grown to realize he's not a big bastard, just a man with a d---."

Shortly after, Amy shared that she was on good terms with both of her parents and accepted her upbringing, speaking fondly of Mitch.

“He’s a great man, my Dad,” she told Du Noyer. “I love him. I love my Mum, but me and my Dad are two peas in a pod. We’re really impulsive people. It’s good that my Dad moved out when I was growing up, or we would have had some terrible clashes.”

Amy’s song “Rehab” was inspired by conversations with Mitch

<p>JMEnternational/Getty</p> Mitch Winehouse and Amy Winehouse backstage during The BRIT Awards on February 20, 2008.

JMEnternational/Getty

Mitch Winehouse and Amy Winehouse backstage during The BRIT Awards on February 20, 2008.

Like other teenagers, Amy didn't always see eye-to-eye with her parents, but even during disagreements, the aspiring artist didn't miss the opportunity to jot down potential inspiration.

According to In Her Words, Amy often wrote down phrases from conversations that would later be incorporated into her songs.

“Mitch recalls several heated father-and-daughter discussions when Amy was a teenager, when suddenly she’d interrupt him mid-flow," they wrote. "'Sorry, Dad. Hang on a minute. I’ve just got to write this down.' she would announce ... noting down whatever Mitch had said, then returning to the argument."

Amy continued to do this over the years, documenting different conversations she had with Mitch, including about checking herself into rehab. Early in the singer's career, her managers at the time were "concerned" with her drinking and wanted her to undergo treatment.

As Mitch and Janis recalled in the book, Amy said, “'I don’t want to go, Dad. I haven’t got 90 days!' "

“Several years later, that conversation got filtered through Amy’s creative lens, chopped up and rearranged to become a number one hit,” they added, referring to her 2006 song "Rehab" from the album Back to Black.

It went on to win three Grammys after landing at the top of the charts in the U.S. and U.K.

Amy encouraged Mitch to release his own album

<p>Peter Macdiarmid/Getty</p> Amy Winehouse and Mitch Winehouse at at The Riverside Studios for the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony on February 10, 2008 in London, England.

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

Amy Winehouse and Mitch Winehouse at at The Riverside Studios for the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony on February 10, 2008 in London, England.

Amy had a larger-than-life personality — just like her dad. The two had a close relationship throughout her life and bonded over music, as Mitch is also a singer.

Speaking with The Guardian in 2015, he shared that he began performing before Amy was born, but it didn’t take off. “I had a singing career 40 years ago. I was so successful, I became a London taxi driver,” he told the outlet.

In 2010, Mitch released his first album, Rush of Love, and it was a project Amy encouraged him to do. “She drove me mad for years: ‘Dad, you’re a great singer, let’s do it,’ ” he recounted.

As for his song choice, Mitch told the Associated Press that he leans toward jazz and swing and Frank Sinatra is one of his inspirations. Proceeds from the album and Mitch's 2013 book, Amy, My Daughter, have gone to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

Janis and Amy shared a sweet moment before her death

<p>Peter Macdiarmid/Getty</p> Amy Winehouse hugs her mother Janis Winehouse after accepting a Grammy Award at the Riverside Studios for the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony on February 10, 2008 in London, England.

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

Amy Winehouse hugs her mother Janis Winehouse after accepting a Grammy Award at the Riverside Studios for the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony on February 10, 2008 in London, England.

The day before Amy died, Janis visited the singer at her London home, where they looked through old pictures and enjoyed each other's company. It was the last time Janis saw her daughter, and she later shared the bittersweet moment.

"The whole time we were looking through the photos we were wrapped around each other. Amy had her arms around me and she kept kissing me on the cheek and saying ‘I love you, mummy,’ ” Janis told OK! Magazine (via Metro) in 2021. “It’s actually my favorite and most treasured memory of Amy because there was a closeness between us.”

"I couldn’t have known it would be the last time I’d see her alive but I’m always grateful we had that day and that the last thing she said to me was ‘I love you, mummy,’ " she added.

Mitch and Janis now run the Amy Winehouse Foundation

<p>Dominic Lipinski/PA Images/Getty</p> Mitch and Janis Winehouse at the press preview of the 'Amy Winehouse: For You I Was a Flame' exhibition.

Dominic Lipinski/PA Images/Getty

Mitch and Janis Winehouse at the press preview of the 'Amy Winehouse: For You I Was a Flame' exhibition.

Several weeks after Amy’s death, Mitch and Janis started the Amy Winehouse Foundation in September 2011 to help those struggling with substance abuse. After first launching it in the U.K., Amy's parents expanded in the U.S. the following year, per CBS News.

In 2016, the foundation opened Amy's Place, a recovery house that helps women working toward life after rehab. The East London facility offers counseling, exercise courses and relapse prevention groups. The foundation also funds projects that include education on addiction for kids in school and programs for disadvantaged children to be involved with the arts.

“We come in here every day and think about the kids we’re helping, and that keeps us going,” Mitch told The Guardian in 2015. “I’m always talking about Amy, and it can be difficult, but on the other hand it makes our recovery easier because I can’t imagine how horrible it would be without the foundation.”

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