Record Grammy haul for absent Amy Winehouse

Wesley Johnson
Monday 11 February 2008 08:21 GMT

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The troubled British singing sensation Amy Winehouse won five Grammy awards last night, including record and song of the year for her autobiographical hit Rehab.

The jazz star, whose personal life is in turmoil, also picked up best new artist, best pop vocal album for Back To Black and best female pop vocal.

Visa problems prevented the 24-year-old from attending the ceremony in person, but she performed You Know I'm No Good and Rehab in front of a small audience in a London studio and took part via satellite.

The beehived-singer has seen her career soar to new heights with critical acclaim and chart success for her second album Back to Black and has also won both Brit and Mobo awards.

After a standing ovation at the Grammys, she said: "Thank you very much, it's an honour to be here. Thank you very, very much."

Winehouse looked stunned as she won record of the year and stared straight ahead for several seconds as the television feed cut to her.

Her performance was a rarity given the star's recent health problems. She ended up cancelling her UK tour after several shambolic performances, citing husband Blake Fielder-Civil - who is being held in custody - as the reason she could not go on.

But after winning the five awards, she hugged several people, including her mother Janis, as the crowd chanted: "Amy, Amy, Amy."

The singer put her arm around her mother and added: "To my mum and dad. To my Blake, my Blake incarcerated."

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Referring to this weekend's blaze which ravaged Camden Market and celebrity hangout The Hawley Arms pub - a favourite of the troubled singer - she went on: "And for London, this is for London, because Camden Town is burning down."

But Winehouse missed out on album of the year at the 50th annual US awards, which recognise the cream of the music industry, to Herbie Hancock who won for River: The Joni Letters.

Her appearance via satellite, rather than in person at the ceremony, followed a wrangle over her application for a US visa, which was denied but then granted.

On Friday she checked out of the Capio Nightingale clinic in north London, where she had been since January 24, to rehearse for her performance.

The Grammy nominations came after what has been a fantastic year professionally for Winehouse, but amid considerable uncertainty about her wellbeing.

Her bizarre behaviour has been a concern to fans for some time but her husband's recent arrest and the couple's enforced separation appears to have pushed her to a new low.

She has since struck up a friendship with ex-drug addict Pete Doherty and has been seen in floods of tears after visiting Fielder-Civil in jail.

He was arrested after allegedly trying to bribe a pub barman he is accused of attacking and is in Pentonville Prison on remand.

Winehouse, the daughter of a north London taxi driver, was the only performer represented in the album, record, song and best new artist categories at the Grammys.

Cracking the US market is notoriously difficult for British acts and the nominations are the latest demonstration of her potential to enjoy worldwide and long-lasting success.

Other winners of the night included Kanye West, who took four Grammys for best rap album of the year for Graduation, best rap solo performance for Stronger, best rap song for Good Life and best rap performance by a duo or group for his collaboration with Common on Southside.

West paid tribute to his mother Donda West, who died last year after complications from plastic surgery.

With the word "MAMA" cut into his hair, he performed a special version of his 2005 song Hey Mama and then chastised the show's producers for playing music while he was speaking to her spirit.

"It definitely feels good to be home, here at the Grammys," he said.

"We snuck in about four or five years ago and now we've basically made this our new place of residence."

When music played, in an apparent bid to end his acceptance speech, he said: "Come on, you going to play music over me?"

He went on: "Just to say something about my mother, I appreciate all the support and appreciate all the prayers - it would be in good taste to stop the music then."

As it stopped to cheers from the audience, he said: "I appreciate everything and I know you really proud of me, right now, and I know you wouldn't want me to stop and you want me to be the number one artist in the world.

"And Mama, all I'm going to do is keep making you proud. We run this."

Earlier, Hollywood actor Tom Hanks introduced a tribute to The Beatles, describing their music as a revolution which "changed the history of our planet".

"Tonight, we honour the power of The Beatles, the power they still create in our lives," he said.

Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles Love show performed as Beatles producer George Martin and Martin's son Giles watched from the audience with Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and George Harrison's widow Olivia Harrison.

Producers George Martin and his son Giles won the Grammy for best compilation soundtrack album for Love.

Starr, who went on stage with the Martins to collect the Grammy, said they did a "great job" and added: "Cirque du Soleil it turned into a beautiful dream".

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