The late, great Amy Winehouse once said about working with other artists, “I know it sounds a bit wanky but I can’t even work with someone unless they know more about music than me. I have to learn from them or it’s pointless.” It’s probably why the list of artists with whom she has worked with is incredibly impressive.
With such a bold statement from Winehouse, we dug through a host of her musical collaborations and brought six to the front of the pack as the best. Looking through it’s clear to see that Amy wasn’t joking.
The talent of Amy Winehouse seemingly knew no bounds after she burst onto the scene with her seminal album Frank in 2003. Providing an unusual pop icon for the glitzy noughties, Winehouse had the look of a vintage queen, the voice of a jazz genius and the heart of the finest blues singer, it meant her collaborations were always a little out of the ordinary.
Winehouse’s influence on music was immediate and the copy-cat singers sprung up overnight, once the singer’s iconography grew. However, one thing that endeared Winehouse to the British public, in particular, was her authenticity.
It is this authenticity which also makes her a dream to collaborate with. While her issues with substance abuse are well documented and could likely affect which Amy turned up, Winehouse was always committed to the artists who she chose to work with.
Amy Winehouse’s best collaborations:
‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ – Paul Weller and Jools Holland
As part of the legendary Jools Holland New Year’s Hootenanny, Paul Weller joined the former Squeeze-pianist alongside none other than Amy Winehouse. In 2006, there was nobody better to see it out the year in style.
The song the trio picked perfectly fits Winehouse and her growing esteem. Don’t get us wrong, Weller’s dulcet tones are warm and engaging and Holland is capable as ever on the keys but Winehouse steals the limelight with every beautiful note.
‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ – The Rolling Stones
Looking back at this moment it is easy to see how Amy Winehouse faced a serious crossroads. 2007 had seen the singer shoot to the top of the pop pile across the globe and had swept through the music world with ease. But with success comes temptation and the balancing act begins. The Rolling Stones know that all too well.
Mick Jagger was often quoted worrying about Winehouse’s welfare in her later life and we’d bet that fatherly feeling emanates from this moment when she joined the Stones to perform ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ as the band headlined the Isle of Wight Festival.
It’s a quality performance and sees Amy take the occasion in her stride and deliver a stunning performance. You can see how good it is by Mick Jagger’s admiring looks, watching Amy as a proud father might.
‘Valerie’ – Mark Ronson
Of course, the most lucrative collaboration came not on stage as a duet but as part of the team that delivered her seminal album Back To Black, and most notably, the single ‘Valerie’.
An instant bop when it was originally released by indie band The Zutons to pub dancefloor acclaim but the track took on new life under the tutelage of Mark Ronson and in the hands of Amy Winehouse.
The song made Winehouse into a bonafide pop star.
‘Love Is A Losing Game’ – Prince
This clip of the late, great Amy Winehouse joining the mercurial Purple One, Prince, for a very special cover is one of our favourites. The song would be Amy Winehouse’s iconic hit single ‘Love Is A Losing Game’ from her breakthrough record Back To Black and the scene is the dusky nights of London in September 2007.
After Prince said he’d “absolutely” love to collaborate with the singer, Winehouse was excited at the prospect, “I hope I can do [the gigs] though,” she told MTV News. “I’ll drop everything to do that. Stuff like that doesn’t make me go, ‘Oh, I must be the nuts.’ Stuff like that makes me want to do this tomorrow, and the night after, and the night after. Now I want to find out how solid that is. I’d do it with bells on. All day long.”
Matching up to Prince is a difficult task to accomplish but Winehouse grows into the performance and ends up delivering a sensational rendition of the track.
‘Body and Soul’ – Tony Bennett
The song that arguably would mean the most to the classic singer Winehouse was her duet with none other than the legendary Tony Bennett. Recorded in 2011, it sadly remains the final recording Winehouse would ever make, and she got to sing her favourite song with her favourite artist of all time.
Bennett issued a statement upon hearing of Winehouse’s sad passing: “Amy Winehouse was an artist of immense proportions and I am deeply saddened to learn of her tragic passing. She was an extraordinary musician with a rare intuition as a vocalist and I am truly devastated that her exceptional talent has come to such an early end.
“She was a lovely and intelligent person and when we recorded together she gave a soulful and extraordinary performance. I was honoured to have the opportunity to sing with her.”
‘Like Smoke’ – Nas
As well as jazz and blues, Amy Winehouse adored rap and hip-hop. Once creating her own rap group, expertly named Sweet ‘N’ Sour after her heroes Salt ‘N’ Pepa, the singer has always paid extra attention to hip-hop culture. In fact, she had already dedicated a song to Nas before she ever met the rapper from Queens.
The two artists began talking after their introduction through ‘Me and Mr Jones’ and were desperate to collaborate with one another. They provided two solid contributions too, with ‘Cherry Wine’ and ‘Like Smoke’ both up there as fine pieces of work.
The latter is better though because Nas is on far better form, delivering searing lines with his unique tone. Perhaps most importantly though, it allows Winehouse’s vocals to take whichever direction they feel.