FEW knew that when the soulful, heart-wrenching vocals of Back to Black hit top-ten charts around the world in 2006, they would turn Amy Winehouse into the first British woman to win five Grammys, and blossom into the UK’s second best-selling album of the 21st century.
But even less is known about the holiday in Alicante that birthed three of the 13-times Platinum album’s songs – and saw the purchase of her all-time ‘favourite’ guitar.
Now, on the eve of the anniversary of her death on July 23 eight years ago, the Olive Press made a visit to the inland town of Gata de Gorgos, where she found the instrument.
“My father remembers meeting Amy pretty well,” Adam Broseta, 33, tells the Olive Press amid the fragrant sawdust of the Guitarras Bros workshop in the workaday town.
“It was 2006 and he didn’t have a clue who she was at the time, but she was friendly.”
Far from being insular and blind to the international music scene, the 65-year-old family business is in fact famous around the world.
The list of legends who own handmade Guitarras Bros instrument includes Ed Sheeran, Will Smith and will.i.am.
The Gipsy Kings, Tom Hanks, Richard Gere and Jeremy Irons have also acquired instruments from the workshop.
In 2006, Amy was ‘just another singer’ in a long line of artists who have held a masterpiece of the Valencian guitar-making tradition.
But today the British singer-songwriter appears appropriately at the top of the list of ‘artists’ who have bought from them on the company’s simple website.
“To me, she’s the most important of everyone,” Adam explains in the workshop’s office space, surrounded by posters of many of the world’s musical greats.
“She is a talented, an undeniable legend, and the amazing part is we completely forgot she owned one of our guitars.”
In 2012, Adam received a phone call congratulating his business for its appearance in a Vanity Fair feature on Mitch Winehouse’s new biography: Amy, My Daughter.
Racing to a petrol station, Adam purchased the last copy of the monthly magazine, and there it was.
In the article appeared the words: “The guitar was small, Spanish, bought in Guitarras Bros, in the Alicante village of Gata de Gorgos.”
Its purchase happened during a brief holiday in 2006, after Amy had split with lover Blake Fielder-Civil, who had temporarily returned to one of his ex-girlfriends.
As Amy went ‘back to black’, into her infamous manic depression, she was persuaded to join her father for the holiday in Alicante, where his second wife Jane’s family owned a house in the campo.
“The only problem was that she’d forgotten to bring her guitar,” her father’s book continued.
But after spending ‘hours’ intent on finding one in the nearby workshop in Gata de Gorgos, an inspired Amy returned to the house and locked herself in her room for hours.
Emanating from those four walls Mitch heard the birth of ‘You Know that I’m No Good’, ‘Love is a Losing Game’ and ‘Wake Up Alone’, with Amy so spellbound she refused to even come down to eat.
These songs laid the foundation for the Mark Ronson-produced album that was sensationally released in October that year.
In email correspondence with Guitarras Bros, Mitch would much later confirm that of ‘more than 50 guitars’ in Amy’s possession, the one from the Costa Blanca had became her ‘favourite’.
After Back to Black’s stellar success, the troubled singer’s tortuous relationship with Blake, who she married and then divorced, was a period in which Amy Winehouse spiralled in and out of addictions to alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine.
The demonised singer, who wore her heart on her tattooed sleeves and belted out searing emotion beneath that infamous ‘beehive’, was tragically found dead on July 23, 2011.
She was found with five times the legal drink-drive limit of alcohol in her blood.
That holiday in Spain, however, marked a moment of clarity in the tabloid storm of Amy’s life.
In his official biography, Mitch recalls a period of sobriety in early 2011, writing: “I hadn’t seen her focus like that since those days in Spain when she’d locked herself away and written a lot of Back to Black.
“Creating music – her greatest passion – seemed to be doing her more good than anything else we’d tried.”
Perhaps it has something to do with the handmade masterpieces at Guitarras Bros: each one has its ‘own soul’ and is a work of art in itself, with centuries-old wood from as far as Madagascar seeing strummers fork out up to €12,000 a piece, with tailor-made rosettes and machine heads.
Or perhaps it has something to do with the agreeable weather, or the tortilla de patatas that Amy loved, according to the Vanity Fair article.
Either way, something magical happened between the walls of that house on the Costa Blanca – the loss of which the world is still coming to terms with these eight long years later.