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July 23rd, 2014
Today marks the three-year anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s tragic death. She was only 27 years old, making her yet another member of the “27 Club” (popular musicians who died at that age) with the likes of Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.
I’ve worked at Much for almost 11 years now (yes, I’m old), and one question I’m always asked by people is, “What’s your favourite memory from working at Much?”
There have been so many that it’s difficult to narrow it down to even a few, but one that I will always remember is Amy Winehouse’s first and only appearance on MOD.
It was May 2007. Rehab had just been released in North America and the buzz around Amy was huge. She was easily the most talked-about new artist of that winter and spring. When we found out that Amy was going to be appearing on MOD for an interview and performance, everyone at Much was crazy excited. It was a HUGE deal.
Amy came in for her sound check early in the afternoon, accompanied by her then-boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil, whom she married one week later. As she sat there performing Rehab and You Know I’m No Good, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, you could really feel the power of her voice.
My co-workers and I were just looking at each other, jaws on the floor. She was SO good. I thought to myself, this girl is going to be a HUGE superstar, and I’ll be able to say that I watched her perform an acoustic set just a few feet away from me. I felt so lucky!
Then it came time for the live MOD show. The studio was packed with excited kids and there was also a big crowd outside of Much. I was actually working on MOD that day and about 10 minutes into the show we got word from the floor directors that they didn’t have Amy.
She was nowhere to be found in the building.
The record company reps didn’t know where she was either. She had literally disappeared. We all started to panic, because here we are in the middle of a live TV show, and that day’s main attraction was M.I.A.
From that point on we pretty much had to wing it. Matte Babel and Leah Miller were hosting and they had to keep saying that Amy was on her way, stay tuned, but the truth was no one knew if she would actually be back before the show’s end. There was talk that maybe she had gone with Blake to one of the many bars on Queen Street (educated guess), so the outside cameramen kept looking out for a girl with a gigantic beehive and tattoos. At least she would be easy to spot!
Time ticked on and on. Thirty minutes in, 45 minutes in, 50 minutes in – still no Amy. How do you fill an hour-long show without the big star you’ve promoted for weeks? Even seasoned pros like Matte and Leah can only stretch and make small talk for so long.
Lucky for us, Dallas Green just happened to be in the building that day, so being the great sport that he is he came on with Matte and Leah to try and fill the time. Three minutes left… two minutes left… then suddenly we got word that Amy and Blake are walking back towards the building! I remember looking up at the clock and seeing less than two minutes left in the show, when Amy just casually walked into the studio and sat down at her stool, ready to perform.
None of us could believe what was happening, it was as if she was totally unaware that she was on a LIVE show! She was so nonchalant about it all.
I turned to the MOD producer and asked, “what do we do now?” knowing that we were almost out of time. But before he could answer, Amy just started performing Rehab. Everyone was totally stunned, but we just went with the flow. There was no way we could stop or cut off Amy’s performance at that point. The show ran a little long, but the whole country got to see her perform.
May 11th, 2007 marked the only time Amy Winehouse would appear at the iconic Much studios at 299 Queen Street West. In retrospect, everyone who was there that day can say they witnessed a truly historic performance.
Check out the clip below. We dug deep into our archives to find former Much VJ’s Matte, Leah, Devon, Sarah, Hannah and Tim talking about this very moment for the 2007 special Messed Up and Memorable.
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