Amy Winehouse's Dad Mitch Clears Up Misconceptions About Her Addictions, Talks New Book (Exclusive)

Sept. 14, 2023 would have been the "Rehab" singer's 40th birthday.

Amy Winehouse's legacy shouldn't be a complicated one, and her father, Mitch Winehouse, is setting out to make sure of it with his new book, Amy Winehouse: In Her Words.

Speaking to ET's Rachel Smith, Mitch shared how he wants his late daughter to be remembered. The GRAMMY-winning singer's 40th birthday would have been this year, Sept. 14. Amy, who sold more than 30 million records worldwide in her short but immensely successful career, was only 27 when she was found dead on July 23, 2011 in her home in London. The cause of death was alcohol poisoning.

There was an intense and immediate focus on her drug and alcohol addiction after her tragic death, but Mitch will always remember Amy for her strength in her willingness and ability to kick her drug addiction years before she died. He'll also remember her as a global superstar who deep down just wanted to show the world that she cared, and cared deeply.

"[Amy] is a lot more than the singer, the person who struggled with addiction, much more than that," Mitch tells ET. "Loving, kind, a wonderful family member and a wonderful friend. That's what we want people to know about Amy."

Mitch says there's no point in rewriting history. He's cognizant of the fact that, yes, his daughter battled with drug and alcohol addiction. But he also wants people to know that she fought her demons hard. 

"Not a lot of people know that she was clear of drugs for three years [before] her passing, so that's important," Mitch says.

Mitch said as much just days after Amy died.

"Amy was the greatest daughter, family member and friend you could ever have. I will talk a lot about her fantastic recovery," he said in a 2011 statement. "Recently, Amy found love with Reg [Traviss]. He helped her with her problems and Amy was looking forward to their future together. She was the happiest she has been for years."

Amy Winehouse and her father, Mitch, in 2008. - Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for NARAS

"She was not depressed," his statement continued. "She saw [her mother] Janis and Reg on Friday and was in good spirits. That night, she was in her room, playing drums and singing ... But knowing she wasn't depressed, knowing she passed away, knowing she passed away happy, it makes us all feel better."

The new book -- available now -- features never-before-seen journals, handwritten lyrics and family photographs. It's Mitch's hope that the journals convey Amy's kind heart. Just months after her death -- on what would have been her 28th birthday -- the Amy Winehouse Foundation launched on Sept. 14, 2011. The foundation, among other things, set up Amy's Place, where young women recovering from addiction can stay after rehab. The foundation also launched music programs all over the world, including in New York, via the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (headed by the son of the late Tony Bennett, Danny Bennett), where children are introduced to a musical instrument and are taught to play.

The foundation's mission, Mitch wants fans to know, serves as extension of his daughter and shows who she truly was.

"Amy’s legacy obviously is her singing, her music, her writing but of course we have her fantastic foundation. I want people to know that Amy started that," he says. "She was selling her clothes, giving money to homeless people. She took a homeless person in off the street."

In her journals, Amy -- who is the subject of an upcoming biopic, Back to Black -- shares she was never comfortable with the fame she achieved in such a short time. She writes how she needed to be seen but also wanted to be revered as a musician and lyricist, rather than a celebrity. 

"The paparazzi would chase us into the house and then she’d say, 'Dad, I feel sorry for them,'" Mitch says. "She'd make them all teas and sandwiches and then go out and play football with them in the summer, you know? So these are the things that I want people to know, that Amy wasn’t just a singer who was struggling with drug addiction. There were all these other wonderful attributes she had."

The grieving process is never easy, and it never really ends. But what made grieving especially hard for Mitch was that his daughter was truly adored all over the world, and that meant hearing her everywhere she went. For years, Mitch said he struggled to listen to any of Amy's songs. 

"Five years," he says when asked how long it took before he could hear one of his daughter's songs again. "Literally, the first year, everywhere we went, a song would come on, I'll have to run out of the restaurant. It was really, really difficult. I had counseling and therapy because of that."

Mitch hopes fans discover the real Amy with Amy Winehouse: In Her Words. He also hopes the book can raise thousands, if not millions, and for good reason: the Amy Winehouse Estate will donate 100 percent of the advance from Harper Collins Publishers and royalties it receives from the production and sale of the book to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

For more on Amy's life and legacy, check out ET's gallery.