Amy Winehouse brought the sound of 1960s girl groups to 21st-century radio. We remember Winehouse’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Amy Winehouse brought the sound of 1960s girl groups to 21st-century radio, updating a classic genre for a new generation. Her second album, “Back to Black,” was a worldwide smash hit, with hit singles including “Rehab,” “You Know I’m No Good,” and “Love Is a Losing Game.” The album won Winehouse five Grammy awards in 2008, including best new artist, song of the year, and record of the year. Her retro look became iconic – beehive hairdo, cat-eyed eyeliner, vintage-inspired outfits. She was poised for further stardom as she influenced other artists, but before she could record a follow-up album, she succumbed to addiction and died at 27, joining a tragic group of musicians who also died at that too-young age. We remember Winehouse’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: Emile Griffith, U.S. Virgin Islander professional boxer who was the world champion in the welterweight and middleweight divisions, dies at 75.
His remarkable boxing career was overshadowed by the death of opponent Bennie Paret from injuries in the ring in 1962. Griffith struggled with pugilistic dementia and required full-time care late in life, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He was the first boxer from the U.S. Virgin Islands to become a world champion. Read more
2012: Sally Ride, U.S. physicist and astronaut who was the first American woman in space in 1983, dies of pancreatic cancer at 61.
Ride, the first American woman in space – and also the youngest American in space – inspired generations of women who were blown away by the pleasant-seeming, normal-looking, and completely brilliant and driven young woman who burst onto the national radar in 1983. She broke one of the toughest glass ceilings there was – and America loved her for it. Especially American women. Read more
2011: Amy Winehouse, English singer-songwriter who won five Grammy awards, dies of alcohol poisoning at 27.
On her second release, Winehouse strayed from the jazz sound of “Frank” in favor of an eclectic homage to 1960s soul – particularly girl groups – and contemporary rhythm and blues. Lead single “Rehab” catapulted Winehouse to the top of the charts, was named the best song of 2007 by Time magazine, and won three Grammys in 2008, including song of the year. The follow-up singles didn’t disappoint. Read more
2009: E. Lynn Harris, U.S. author who wrote 10 consecutive books that reached The New York Times best-seller list, dies of heart disease at 54.
An improbable and inspirational success story, Harris worked for a decade as an IBM executive before taking up writing, selling the novel “Invisible Life” from his car as he visited salons and beauty parlors around Atlanta, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He had unprecedented success for an openly gay black author, and his strength as a romance writer led some to call him the “male Terry McMillan.” Read more
2007: Ron Miller, U.S. songwriter who wrote many songs for Motown artists, including “For Once in My Life,” which became a hit song for Stevie Wonder, dies at 74.
2002: Chaim Potok, U.S. rabbi and author known best for his book “The Chosen,” which sold over 3 million copies, dies of brain cancer at 73.
Potok, who counted James Joyce, Evelyn Waugh, and Ernest Hemingway among the authors who most inspired him, recalled that teachers at his Jewish parochial school were displeased with his taking time away from studying the Talmud by reading literature, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. “I knew that I would be a writer, that I would write from within the tradition. And that meant that I had to know the tradition from inside out. And that I needed to know the tradition without being blinded by it,” Potok told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2002. Read more
2002: Leo McKern, Australian actor whose movie appearances included “Help!” with the Beatles and “The Blue Lagoon,” dies at 82.
1996: Jean Muir, U.S. actress who had most of her success in Hollywood in the 1930s, dies at 85.
1993: James Jordan Sr., U.S. father of former NBA star Michael Jordan, is fatally shot at 56 as he napped in his car at a North Carolina rest stop.
1985: Kay Kyser, U.S. bandleader whose band was very popular on the radio and in movies in the 1930s and ’40s and who starred in the movie “Swing Fever,” dies at 80.
1982: Vic Morrow, U.S. actor who was in the movie “Blackboard Jungle” and starred on the “Combat!” TV series, dies of accidental decapitation while filming “Twilight Zone: The Movie” when a stunt helicopter crashes at 53.
1980: Keith Godchaux, U.S. musician who played keyboards with the Grateful Dead from 1972 until 1979, dies in a car accident at 32.
1973: Eddie Rickenbacker, U.S. fighter pilot and race car driver who competed in multiple Indianapolis 500s and was the most successful U.S. fighter pilot in World War I with 26 victories, dies at 82.
1971: Van Heflin, U.S. actor who won an Academy Award for his performance in the movie “Johnny Eager” and co-starred in “Shane” with Alan Ladd, dies at 60.
1966: Montgomery Clift, U.S. actor who was a leading man in such movies as “A Place in the Sun” and “From Here to Eternity,” dies of a heart attack at 45.
1948: D.W. Griffith, U.S. film director who was highly influential during the silent era, whose movies included “The Birth of a Nation” and “Intolerance,” dies of a cerebral bleed at 73.
1885: Ulysses S. Grant, U.S. general and politician who was the 18th president of the United States from 1869 until 1877, dies at 63.